What is stress?
Stress is the
reaction people have to excessive demands or pressures, such as
passing exams. You may find it difficult to cope with tasks,
responsibilities or other types of pressures or you might get
anxious trying to meet such demands.
How do I recognize that I am under stress?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I suffering from?
- loss of appetite
- aches and pains for no apparent reason
- increased anxiety and irritability
- increased heart rate
- blurred vision
- difficulty in going to sleep or difficulty in waking up in the
- Do I?
- feel tired all the time
- feel sick
- show social withdrawal
- exhibit loss of interest in activities
- find it difficult either to relax or to concentrate
- feel physical sensations, such as chest pains, muscle cramps,
pins and needles, dizziness or fainting and stomach problems
If your answer is yes to most of the questions you may be
suffering from Stress. Panic can sometimes produce physical
sensations which may worry and alarm you. Sometimes, too much
stress can trigger other problems, including panic attacks,
depression, drug abuse, eating distress or self-harming behaviour.
It's important to talk to someone about these, and to get
appropriate help, if necessary.
Why do I get stressed during exams?
Feeling stressed is a natural response to pressure. The body
releases chemicals into the bloodstream that make you feel nervous
and edgy. Muscles tense, ready for action and the heart beats
faster to carry blood to the muscles and the brain. You breathe
faster, sweat more and your mouth becomes dry. Hormones, such as
adrenalin, cause these physical reactions. This automatic response
is known as the 'flight or fight' reflex. This hormone encourages
you to do your best during competitions. However, too much of this
hormone can affect your health adversely.
How do I minimise exam stress?
- Be Prepared: The most important technique is
to be well prepared. Start preparing well in advance. Regular self
study, solving sample paper given at the end if your study
materials, answering Intext Questions, mock examinations etc., are
great ways to be well organised and prepared.
- Be healthy: Maintaining good health also helps
in effectively dealing with stress. Do cut down on fatty meats,
dairy products; sweets and salt. Eat more fruits, vegetables,
poultry and fish as they have a calming effect on a stressed
person. Eat healthy and regularly; remember that your brain will
benefit from the nutrients.
- Be relaxed: Meditation and/or yoga are a good
way of relaxing the mind. They will help to keep you feeling calm
and balanced, improve your concentration levels and help you to
sleep better. Meditation is ideal when you wake up in the morning
or as the last thing before going to bed. Focused meditation for 15
- 20 minutes is adequate.
- Be fit: Regular exercise can help you to
relieve stress. Activities such as moderate walking can relax your
body, boost your energy, clear your mind and reduce any feelings of
- Be informed: Don't drink too much of
stimulating drinks like coffee and tea. The caffeine in these
drinks will make your thinking less clear.
How can I prepare for my exams?
- Manage your time effectively
- Make a things-to-do list. Also keep a note pad where you keep
adding to the list as and when it occurs to your mind to keep you
from the anxiety of forgetting it.
- Prioritize it.
- Make a time-table for a daily routine in accordance to your
- Give your body minimum required rest to keep you effectively
involved in the following day's activities.
- Say 'NO' to priority stealers like talking to friends,
computer-gaming, aimless surfing on TV/computers, negative thoughts
(e.g. past failure, fear, unpleasant experiences), daydreaming,
- Have an early dinner
- It helps if you wake up fresh and early. If you feel hungry
late in the night, take light snacks like banana, a glass of milk,
etc. Avoid greasy, spicy or stimulating food just before going to
bed, for a sound sleep.
- Take short breaks
Do take short breaks right where you are when your head gets
saturated with overloading of study material and has trouble
focusing on the learning.
- Get some fresh air.
- Take a walk for a couple of minutes around the area where you
are studying and stretch your limbs before you settle again to
- Deep breathing can calm you in case of anxiety.
- Neck/Shoulder rolls have great easing effect. Roll your head in
circle several times or shoulders in a circular motion.
- A quick shower can refresh you up for active study.
Manage your emotions effectively
Don't let your mood and personal problems prevent you from
completing your work. Ask yourself whether it is worth worrying
now. You can choose to stay calm and ignore it. If it cannot be
ignored or is an emergency, take help of your parents and
Don't delay the work to be done
unnecessarily. Do it now!!
Delaying leads to panic situations
How do I maintain my concentration?
If you have a problem with concentration, write a timetable.
Don't try to study for longer than 45 to 60 minutes at a stretch.
You can improve your timing by starting with short period of study,
then adding an extra few minutes to each session. Stop work after a
reasonable number of hours (five, six etc.) and then go and do
something totally different in the evenings to restore your
equilibrium, including taking exercise and eating proper food in
good company where you have the opportunity to laugh.
Why should I do revision before
Revision is not about memorising facts but trying to understand
your subject well enough to demonstrate familiarity with its big
themes regardless of a specific question. If you only mug up three
to five answers, you will be stumped if not enough of them come in
your exams. You also probably know a lot more than you imagine. It
would be a good idea to do a couple of sample papers by yourself
under real conditions and then direct your revision to your weaker
How should I revise?
- Make a time-table in accordance to your examination
- Try to arrange peaceful, quiet, and a comfortable place to
revise, where you can work without being disturbed. If you study in
a room where you also eat or sleep, try to keep the work area
separate, so it's not always bothering you when you're not
- Experiment with several alternative revision techniques so that
revision is more fun and your motivation to study is high. These
might include making notes from text books, writing quick summaries
of topics (in the form of mind maps perhaps), reciting facts out
aloud, learning dates, formulae or vocabulary by heart.
- Switching between methods helps you hold your interest and
absorb information better. Mix dull subjects with more interesting
ones, for the same reason. If it is difficult to get started, begin
with something easy.
- Actively think about, sift and question what you are writing
and reading, and test yourself afterwards. Writing endless notes,
mindlessly, is probably a waste of time. If you come to something
you don't understand, try reading about it somewhere else.
- Practice timed exam questions and papers. This can give you
some idea of what the real exam will be like, and of how to divide
your time between questions. Although exam papers are never the
same, they are similar enough to be useful.
- As soon as you notice your mind is losing concentration, take a
short break. You will then come back to your revision
How can I Handle examination stress just before
- Be prepared: The earlier you start revision,
the less stress you will suffer later on.
- Don't study 24/7: Revising round the clock
will make you exhausted. Relax by incorporating some activities you
enjoy into your timetable. Taking time out for a bit of exercise or
sport is a particularly good stress-buster.
- Share your stress: Restraining your emotions
can increase anxiety, but talking to friends and family about how
you are feeling will quickly ease the strain.
- Get some sleep: There is nothing worse than
trying to do an exam on no sleep.
How can I cope with stress on the day of my
- Get organised:Get up on time and make sure you
have everything prepared for the exam. Check if your pencil box
have the following:
- I-Card in original
- Hall Ticket - original/downloaded from the NIOS Website
- Eat a healthy breakfast: Taking slow-burning
energy foods like porridge (daliya) or roti - sabzi/ curd in the
morning. This will keep you feeling relaxed and alert throughout
- Take a deep breath: Simple breathing exercises
can stop panic. Take a minute to inhale slowly through the nose and
then exhale gently through your mouth. Repeat three times and
you'll feel instantly calmer.
- Read the questions: When you open your exam
paper read the questions carefully before you frantically start
writing down everything you know about the subject.
What will I do if my mind goes blank just before
If your mind goes blank, don't panic! Panicking will just make
it harder to recall information. Instead, focus on slow, deep
breathing for about one minute. If you still can't remember the
information then move on to another question and return to this
How can I calm myself down?
Firstly, stop thinking of the exams as the day of your
execution. See them instead as part of a chain of events that
includes the reasonably happy life you are enjoying now and the
very happy life you will have after they are finished.
Secondly, practice a 60-second relaxation exercise to use on the
day of your exam. Close your eyes drop your shoulders and listen to
the sound of your own breathing. Do nothing for one full minute but
count your breaths in and out, screening off the noise around you
and breathing slowly into your belly. Say to yourself '1001, 1002,
1003' (to count the in-breaths) and '1004, 1005, 1006' (for the
out). Then pause for '1007' before you start to in-breathe again.
Regularising your breathing stops you from dumping Co2 from your
system, which otherwise triggers panic in the brain.
How can my family and friends help me in minimising exam
You need to know that you have the support of your family and
friends. It is important that they should be sensitive to the extra
strain you may be under, and allow you the space and time to study.
Regular meals, appropriate opportunities for relaxation, and
emotional support are all going to help. So is offering plenty of
positive feedback, which can demonstrate your confidence in their
abilities. Friends and family should keep distractions to a minimum
and do as much as possible to ease any additional pressures. They
should encourage you to seek appropriate help.
But, how would they know that you want to be helped? Talk to
your family and friends on this issue, clearly outlining as to what
kind of support you are looking for.