Managing Stress During Exam Season

December 7, 2018
stressed student

Stress levels can peak for students as a semester comes to an end. Whether preparing for final exam week, comprehensive practice exams or wrapping up course assignments, it is perfectly natural to experience increased stress. Stress affects each student differently, so it is important to understand how you can effectively manage the stress you may be experiencing, and how to best support your peers as they work through their stress.

For some students, exams seem almost too easy. But for others, the stress brought on by exams can cause fatigue, sweaty palms, anxiety, and many other undesirable symptoms. It is normal to feel overwhelmed, but there are steps you can take to manage stress productively.

To help manage stress during exam season, here are 6 tips and strategies to consider.

Give Yourself a Break

Between finishing assignments and preparing for exams, it’s natural to feel like you have no time to waste. Not only is taking a break healthy, it’s actually quite helpful. By spending some time away from your studies, you’ll be able to get your mind refocused. You will feel more refreshed and relaxed when it comes time to hit the books again. Something as little as 20 minutes to a few hours is the perfect way to recharge your mind. Take a walk, watch funny videos, call a friend, or run out for coffee – just take a break.

Man running

Get Some Exercise

Even light exercise is a great stress reducer! Whether it’s going for a walk, a run, swimming, or lifting some weights, exercise can do wonders for you. Not only does it help keep you healthy, it has been known to boost your mood and actually help with mental clarity and productivity.

Speak to Someone

If the pressure of assignments and exams is getting to you, don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Maybe it’s a parent or family member, a friend, colleague, or an instructor – don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling. If you feel overwhelmed or concerned about your stress level and how it is affecting you, feel free to reach out to one of your instructors. Chances are, they will be able to help address your concerns and offer advice to help you better manage the stress and pressure you might be feeling.

Image of notebook and pencils

Write Down All Your Tasks

Sometimes the mere thought of everything that is impending can be enough to overwhelm you. Take things a day at a time. Writing down an organized timeline can help create an actionable list that is much more manageable. Write down your tasks, timeline, and deadlines. As you complete each task, scratch it out. As you see your accomplishments, you may feel more in control and less overwhelmed.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

If stress and anxiety has you feeling down, avoid the trap of comparing yourself to others. We each handle things differently. Although your peer may appear cool, calm, and collected, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how they’re feeling on the inside. Keep your focus on making your goals manageable, day by day. Chances are, you’re doing just fine and any immediate feelings of distress will resolve as you work through your deadlines successfully.

destress with yoga from exam


Last but not least, relax. Just relax. Take three deep breaths, close your eyes, and count to ten. The next time you feel like you’re starting to get overwhelmed, just stop and try to relax for a moment. If you’ve been going to all your classes, completing your readings, and finishing assignments on time, chances are you’ll do just fine. Remember, you can always talk to your instructors about what’s going on. They’ll likely be able to offer options or support to help put your mind at ease. You’ve got this!