Stress Swaps: Ways to reduce exam stress

Staying on top of your studies can be hard enough at the best of times, but when you’re also balancing assignment deadlines and exam prep with work, social life and your wellbeing, it can all add up to a pretty stressful situation.

When you’re feeling stressed and distracted, and you’re struggling to study, try making a few key changes to help you stay on track.

Set up a reward system

One of the hardest things about focusing on your studies is sidestepping the many distractions and temptations that are on offer. Who wouldn’t find it easier to escape into an eight-hour TV series when you’ve hit a wall with your studies, rather than push through it? But instead of denying yourself all distractions, try a work-and-reward system. For each hour of study, you could reward yourself with something: an episode of your fave show, an hour of gaming, or a FaceTime with a friend.

Stress Swap 1

Sharing is caring

Sometimes a natural reaction to stress is to switch off, shut down and tap out —you might turn off your notifications and pretend that whatever is going on simply doesn’t exist. Pulling away from your pals and going AWOL might sound like a good idea, but in times of stress, whether it’s school-related or otherwise, talking to people is typically the best way forward. Give your friends a chance to lend a hand by letting them know what’s up with you. If they’re aware that you’re having a tough time and aren’t travelling so well, they’ll check in with you more often.

Stress Swap 2

Love the list

Every school student knows that their brain is busiest JUST as they switch out the lights and try to fall asleep. All of a sudden, their mind is overcome by worries, concerns and thoughts, and sleep seems like a distant possibility. This is particularly true if they’re feeling anxious or nervous about an upcoming exam or assignment. Take back control by writing a checklist before going to bed of things you need to do, and things you’re worried about. Putting them down on paper is a smart way to make big problems seem a little more manageable.

Stress Swap 3

Tidy your space

There is no better way to buy time than by creating jobs that require your immediate attention - ‘my assignment will have to wait because I MUST organise my bookshelves in alphabetical order!’ While a tidy workspace will help you to focus and concentrate – both of which are important for study/school – don’t get sucked into the trap of spending all day arranging and rearranging your desk. Try to pick an area to work that has some natural light, and set up a space that is calming and free of clutter.

Stress Swap 4

Download a text version of this comic.

What can I do now?

  • Learn how to manage stress with our 7 tips to deal with stress and anxiety.

  • Get some tips on how to manage your time.