Stressed about exams? Here are nine ways to avoid a breakdown at Lancaster Uni

Breathe in, breathe deep, breathe through, breathe out

It’s finally the summer term, which can only mean one thing — deadline and exam season is upon us.

Exam season can be the most stressful part of the academic year for many students, and when it comes around, it can be hard to stop that anxiety from becoming all-encompassing. Here are nine ways to avoid a breakdown during exam season at Lancaster Uni and how to take care of your mental health during the most challenging time of the year.

Declutter your workspace

Clutter and an unclean workspace burden your brain and inhibit your thinking, which can be stressful. So, first things first: it’s time to declutter! 

Create an inspirational environment to make your studying as productive as possible. Stick to-do lists or a calendar on your wall to plan an effective study routine. Throw out the remnants of the Freshers Dig In boxes! You could use your favourite music, succulents, or scented candles to transform the space and produce a tranquil setting. 

Work smarter, not harder

Revising and working hard for an exam doesn’t necessarily mean 12-hour days studying on the C-Floor of the library with no lunch breaks. Create a timetable with short bursts of work and small achievable tasks to work on each session. Productivity does not necessarily correlate with how much time you spend studying.

Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise

Prioritising your tasks is a vital part of productive studying. Which of your deadlines is urgent? What needs doing first? Make a to-do consisting of small, achievable tasks and tick them off as you complete them. Each tick gives you a sense of achievement and makes you feel optimistic and confident about your work.

Eat right, exercise, sleep well and repeat

Pulling an all-nighter, having a poor diet by living on Sultans takeaways and Spar meal deals, and staying indoors can increase symptoms of anxiety and stress. Sleeping for at least 7-8 hours and taking a short walk can refresh your mind, boost your memory and help with productivity. Lancaster is full of beautiful spots, so why not take a walk along the canal or up to Williamson Park?

Limit your social media exposure

Social media can often increase and amplify the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Learning to detach yourself from distractions such as Instagram and Snapchat will help with your procrastination, and avoiding social media platforms for a while will prevent you from having to see posts or messages from friends talking about how much revision they’ve done.

Carry on with your extracurriculars

It’s difficult to stop your exam revision and dissertation work from taking control of your life, especially during third term. Give yourself breaks and time to enjoy the hobbies and activities you love outside of your academic studies. Whether that’s a trip to Baking Soc on the weekend, or you continue going to the Sports Centre, you need to have time for the things you enjoy too.

Don’t overdo it

Although staying on top of your studies and revision is essential, there is nothing wrong (and often more productive) with stopping when you reach a convenient point. Mental health is so important, particularly during exam season, and you can only produce high-quality work with a good state of mind. Give yourself breaks and allow yourself to unwind after a long day — go for a walk around campus on the Woodland Trail or try out Yoga Society’s evening classes.

Be realistic

It’s essential that you set realistic and achievable goals that are suitable for you. Whether you have weeks or hours before a test, accepting your situation and working within the realms helps you work as productively as possible. If you feel overwhelmed, take a break and come back to it. Once you are in a stressed and panicked state of mind, it is almost impossible to achieve anything productive.

While some may find it helpful to have group study sessions, try not to compare others’ revisions or progress to your own — this will likely add to your stress and may make you feel you aren’t progressing as well as others around you.

Remember to breathe

If you panic before, during, or after your exam, that is okay and completely normal! Take a few long, deep breaths to help you relax. We promise no one in the library will think you’re crazy. Meditation and breathing exercises are the most effective ways to take a break and approach your anxiety and stress from an alternative perspective. Try using meditation apps such as Calm or Headspace to help you stay relaxed and composed.

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