“A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances” – that’s how stress is actually defined.
Whereas for some, exam periods are just stressful times that will pass, some others struggle more to cope with them and can’t help panicking. Although some level of stress can help performance, acute stress can drive your brain cells crazy, making it harder for you to take in information.
Having a pile of exams to study for within a limited amount of time is for sure tough. However, instead of hoping for the Queen to pass away, so that exams get cancelled (how mean of you, students!), look through some of my ideas that could get you through these torturous days.
If you are a victim, you are advised to proceed as follows:
- Have a schedule and stick to it. Prefer to wake up early so that you’ve got the whole day ahead, instead of being stressed because you are stressed, because you woke up late.
- Turn on the tunes! Go on YouTube, find the “Loaded”, by Primal Scream, listen to the whole playlist and dance your pain away. Sometimes, letting loose is the answer to many questions.
- Express your inner Picasso. Art is a wonderful way of releasing stored up stress and tension, and studies have provided evidence of the efficacy of art therapy in reducing stress. Go get the crayons!
- Play with your pet(s). While you get annoyed by your cat sitting on your laps, desk and face, research has indicated that petting an animal can increase the levels of the stress-reducing hormone “oxytocin” and decrease the production of the stress hormone “cortisol”. If you don’t have a pet, go grab the neighbour’s one. These are hard times– they will understand, hopefully.
- Take a hot shower/bath. Psychological stress can negatively affect the body’s ability to regulate pain, causing anxiety-related muscle tension Hot water has been known to relax the muscles and reduce stress. Let it rain!
- Take a quick nap. Sleep helps us remember facts, places and faces, which explains why short (20-30 minutes) naps have been shown to improve alertness, mood and Begin to count the sheep…
- Stick pictures of your loved ones on your working desk. One of the biggest struggles of the whole story is finding the motivation needed to keep going. Motivation to study, memorise, revise. Having family, friends and people who believe in you or inspire you close to you during these challenging times is important to keep you going.
- We say yes to the consumption of healthy snacks. Physical or emotional distress increases the intake of fatty foods, high in sugar or salt, and people tend to crave such snacks although they directly increase our cortisol levels, leading to a greater release of stress-related symptoms and sensations.
Maria Andreou has recently graduated having completed a BSc in Psychology.