It’s that time of year again, and this exam season only seems to be made more stressful by the fluctuating weather and the covid restrictions that seem to be easing at an excruciating snail’s pace. Being shut indoors with a pile of revision on your desk and exams looming can be a real strain on our mental health- an overworked mind and deflated mood can quickly lead to exam blues, and even total burnout. But exam season doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Check out the tips below, and help keep yourself happy and energised in the weeks to come.
Catch it early
Exam blues and burnout can be easily avoided if you catch it early and sort it quickly. Early symptoms include lack of motivation, reduced energy levels, bad sleeping patterns and a general lack of self-care. Those you are living with might spot it before you do, and likewise it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your friends to make sure they aren’t slipping under. Spotting your own low mood can be more difficult than it sounds. A good idea is to keep a thought diary or mood tracker. You can incorporate this into a bullet journal, or even try a mood tracker app. By tracking your mood you can clearly see when it starts to dip, which will help you know when to take action before it’s too late.
Take regular breaks
It may feel like you just don’t have enough time. Time to read notes, time to make notes, time to consolidate, time to do past papers. Sometimes during exam season it feels like we don’t even have time to sleep. However, it’s really important that you make some time for yourself to take breaks. If you don’t rest, then you will inevitably have a burnout, and no matter how much work you’ve got done, your grades will suffer for it. Taking a regular break for every few hours of work is really important. Use that time to make yourself a cup of tea, get a break from your screen, and even close your eyes for a few minutes. If you’re worried that taking a break will mean you won’t get back to work, set yourself a timer to make sure you get back to the desk when you planned to.
Eat, sleep, exercise
During exam season, it is really important to make sure you take good care of yourself. Eating the right things, getting a good night of sleep and taking regular exercise will help boost your mood and fortify you against burnout. Try and eat your five-a-day to keep your vitamins up, and make sure to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t stay up all night staring at your screen- set a sensible bedtime. Going for regular walks, or even runs, is a great way to get fresh air and clear your mind. If you aren’t much of an exercise fan, have a go at meditation or a yoga class for beginners to help wind down. Check out my blog post on using yoga to supplement your studies to get started.
You can only do what you can do
This is something that I have to remind myself every exam season. There is a finite amount of time, and it isn’t worth wrecking your mental health just to gain those extra few marks. It’s not the end of the world if you miss out a few topics, or if you run out of time to study for one particular module. At the end of the day, burnout and low mental health is a much bigger fix than a bad grade. Look after yourself, stay calm and do your best.
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by Rebecca Preedy