Stress and Studying

It seems that just a few days ago, I was lounging around, relaxing and catching up on my favorite tv shows. But here I am, yet again…cramming for the wave of exams.  Understandably, the stress levels have been extremely high for most of us during the second half of the month and I would not blame anyone for having mini breakdowns in the bathroom in between classes or for memorizing biology at 3 A.M in the morning. However, it’s very important to not let the anxiety and stress get to you. Once it does, it can cripple you. There are times when my friends and I let anxiety overtake us and leave us in vicious cycles. For example, I fall behind with school work, and I  get so anxious about all the work that’s piling up… that I procrastinate even more out of fear and end up doing worse than I was in the first place. I know many  other students out there go through similar issues and deal with anxiety, stress or even depression, so I compiled a list of some positive methods to cope with stress and anxiety during your exams. These methods only take a few minutes, so you don’t even have to worry about wasting time on studying for your exams.

  • Try a breathing technique. The best way to calm down is to slow down your breathing and to narrow your focus. Many people have different breathing techniques such as thinking only positive thoughts or trying to breathe in a certain pattern. My favorite breathing method is the 4-7- 8 method. All you have to do is breathe in for four seconds through your nose, hold your breath for seven seconds and blow the air out from your mouth for eight seconds. You should keep repeating this cycle until you calm down. This technique is great for panicky situations and trying to fall asleep when you’re stressed.
  • Take a long hot bath/shower. Hot baths and showers can relieve tension and soothe body tenseness. They also increase oxytocin levels, thus reducing anxiety.
  • Write things down. A lot of the times I’m stressed because there’s so much going on or too much to study that I can’t comprehend. Writing down lists only takes a few seconds, and will make you feel much better when you can visualize exactly what you have to do.
  • Hang out with friends. If you’ve been studying (or cramming) for more than 24 hours straight, you’re bound to end up stressed. Taking a break with friends or anyone, is needed to not crash and burn.
  • Ask for help. My biggest problem when I’m studying is that I never ask classmates for help and I don’t go to office hours. This is a bad habit obviously, since I’ll end up studying one topic for four hours when someone could have explained it to me in 15 minutes. Even if you’re stressed about non academic situations, it’s always beneficial to get someone else’s perspective on an issue. So go to a trusted friend, parent etc.
  • Do nothing. This may sound counterintuitive, but instead of constantly bustling around or thinking too many things, set a timer for about two to three minutes, lay down and do nothing. Don’t think about school or your personal troubles, just close your eyes and do/ think about nothing.