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Exam Stress: How to Recognize and Deal With It

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Stress is a state of the nervous system at times when something unusual happens to a person. It can be positive (eustress) and negative (distress).

Nothing needs to be done about eustress because it usually has positive effects on a person’s mental state. Distress is associated with negative emotions and harms health.

How do I know if I am stressed?

You can identify distress by the body’s reaction.

  • rapid heartbeat
  • frequent headaches
  • uncontrollable hunger or an unreasonable lack of appetite
  • trouble sleeping

Panic attacks are a particularly dangerous manifestation of distress. These are attacks of intense, unreasonable fear, expressed outwardly in hand tremors, difficulty in breathing, and other symptoms.

The first step in dealing with distress is to recognize the enemy. Analyze your physical condition. If you are healthy and your body behaves strangely, this is most likely how anxiety about upcoming exams manifests itself.

Why am I stressed?

Distress occurs when a student realizes that a difficult situation is approaching. For example:

  1. The first exam of her life. The teenager does not know what awaits her, how to behave, whether she has enough knowledge.
  2. The second and subsequent exams. The first time the student felt uncomfortable and does not want it to happen again.

Step number two is to recognize the nature of stress.

If you’ve never taken an exam before, you should know the following thing – doing anything for the first time is often scary, even for those who outwardly are a rock. If you don’t want a repeat of an unpleasant experience, remember that every experience is unique. It is unlikely that this time you will feel the same as the previous one.

I’ve figured out the nature of my stress. What should I do next?

Find your motivating force. It’s like walking through an icy maze: the lower the temperature, the less you navigate and the easier it is to get lost. Your task is to constantly light a fire in the place where you are going, to have a reference point, and not to freeze on the way.

Then formulate the specific tasks you must accomplish. The simple act of planning can help reduce panic attacks that absorb concentration and rational thinking.

By breaking down the global task of passing the exam into smaller subtasks, you can silence your inner critic. Self-criticism, like medicine, requires precise dosages. Reinforce your motivation with a realistic assessment of your accomplishments. The answer “Nothing” programs you to that very failure. You need to tame your frightened critic and objectively weigh your achievements.

Step three is to look for motivation and fight your self-critic.

How to behave before the exam?

Well in advance of an exam or any other test, you should begin to change your life routine so you can function to the best of your abilities when the day comes.


You have a goal, and you already know how to formulate specific small tasks. Now make it a habit to write about your day for a few minutes every night.

Rest also needs to be planned, so you should not neglect it. You can set a phone alarm to remind yourself when to break away from your books and when to get back to work.

The less time left until exam day, the more anxious you become. You don’t seem to have time for anything. Exercise helps you to focus. By resetting your brain this way, it will be easier for you to get back to your studies and methodically solve the tasks in front of you.

Sleep Mode

Insomnia or, conversely, a constant desire to sleep is often a physical manifestation of distress.

During sleep, the body produces the hormone melatonin, which helps transfer information from short-term to long-term memory. When melatonin production is disrupted, memory is also impaired. People under-receive this important hormone if they don’t sleep enough or sleep is of poor quality.

It is only necessary to revise your sleep schedule, and productivity will go up.

Here are some simple tips to help you adjust your sleep and wakefulness patterns.

  1. Go to bed and get up at the same time. Most studies confirm that the optimal duration of sleep for a young person is 8 hours. During this interval, all the necessary sleep cycles have time to run their course.
  2. If you missed the regime on any day, arrange a short nap the next day in the afternoon to recover strength. 15-20 minutes will recharge you and help to finish all the planned activities.
  3. Do not read or watch classes in bed. If you do, your brain will not be able to figure out whether you’re at work or rest when you’re horizontal.
  4. Give up gadgets at least half an hour before bedtime. Blue light from screens slows down the production of melatonin.

Eating regime

During times of distress, it is vital to keep a well-balanced diet.

In the diet of a teen or young adult preparing for exams, be sure to include fruits, vegetables, and protein, preferably meat. A piece of dark chocolate or a few grams of dried fruit will boost your energy.

For normal functioning of your brain, you need to drink 4-5 glasses of water a day. Brain cells need oxygen, and there is plenty of it in water.

Eat regularly, even in the absence of appetite. No food means no energy to concentrate and remember information.

Physical activity

Additional physical activity is necessary.

  • if you do not do sports regularly
  • if you do not move around much and spend most of the day at home

In these cases, it is good to go out for at least fifteen-minute walks. Every day, even if there is frost, snow, rain, and wind outside.

Expressions of emotion

Don’t clam up – express your emotions! You need to get your feelings out. Inform your loved ones that they don’t have to comfort you. They just need to listen and hug you.



About the Author: William Grabe, founder of the essaysadvisor.com blog and consultant at thebestessays.net.

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

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