Exam season is rapidly approaching for students. With the exam period often contributing to an incredible amount of stress and negative emotions, it is easy to forget to take care of your mental health.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most important aspects of your mental health to stimulate is your connection to others. Clinical psychologist Desiree Dickonson promotes the idea of group study but also notes that it is worthwhile to just listen and engage with people as a whole. The group doesn’t need to be focussed the entire session; purely chatting with one another can increase your general state of wellbeing.
Building a routine for not only studying, but also within your day to day life, can help to relax the mind. Dickonson explains that routine helps us divide work time from self time, allowing for a higher level of relaxation and clarity when we take time for ourselves. Study routines, such as the Pomodoro Technique discovered by Francesco Cirillo, where you have a certain time frame of study and then a certain time frame for a break can also be implemented for a blend of productivity and enjoyment.
According to Adam Moore and colleagues of Liverpool John Moores University, the daily practicing of short periods of mindful meditation can improve concentration. It was found performing breathing exercises for 10 minutes was able to increase focus, whilst being a manageable skill that you can fit into study breaks or travel time. Dickonson further attributes meditation and mindfulness to gaining a feeling of control within uncertain times.
Physiological symptoms of stress are not ones to be forgotten, with Southern Cross listing a few as low energy levels, change in appetite and muscle tension/pain. They suggest exercising in order to release tension and stress build up within the body, further clearing your headspace of frivolous worries. Psychological Health Care, Perth, says a nutritional diet rich in vitamins, minerals and healthy fats will keep your body feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Psychosocial rehabilitation specialist Kendra Cherry states that test-anxiety can also come through in cognitive symptoms such as self-doubt or negative self-talk. Practicing positive self-talk and praising yourself for little achievements can provide a basis for self-belief and reassurance during an exam.
The NHS’s “Tips on surviving exams” also suggests forgetting about the exam once it is done. The work you put in during the exam cannot be changed once you leave the exam room, so it is best to simply forget about how you did and enjoy the time you have.
Exams commence on Thursday 5th November. Remember to check your exam timetable on Student Services Online to ensure you are aware of all your exam dates, times and locations (when made available).
The University of Auckland provides a counselling service for anyone who is struggling with these or further issues. Students in need of mental health support during this time are encouraged to contact the University Health and Counselling team on 0800 698 427.
If you need support, you can call or text 1737 for 24/7 support from trained counsellors. Other helplines include Youthline’s free call line at 0800-376-633, or free-texting 234.