January exams. It’s the topic of all conversation and nothing feels worse than revising – except not revising. Coming back to university after spending the holidays with your family can be tough enough, and that’s without the added stress of deadlines and the guilt of not having done quite enough work over the break.
Exam anxiety is experienced by students all over the world, but it can be extremely difficult when you don’t have your family close by for comfort. Instead, we have housemates and coursemates and (maybe) a romantic relationship to help us through the stressful period – although it’s very easy for these relationships to be tested throughout the exam season.
At university, the people we are surrounded by and spend all of our time with are also students, so we are all in the same boat. With many of you panicked and stressed this can raise tensions in your relationships. It’s normal to “offload” on your friends but sometimes offloading stress to someone else who also feels anxious is not the answer. Arguments are bound to happen over things that normally wouldn’t, so I would suggest taking a laid-back approach to those friends who are being a bit snappy – rows are not going to benefit anyone! Remember that they are probably feeling the same way you are!
It can become easy during the exam period to lock yourself away in your room to avoid the guilty feeling we can get from doing anything other than work. Sometimes this can cause more damage than good. Try and arrange to spend at least an hour of the day with flatmates or other friends, even if it’s doing something small, such as all eating your evening meal together. Revising with a study group at the library also works for some students. Having no human contact during exam time can make anxiety levels even higher.
Find ways to release negative energy other than through arguments. I like to use exercise or meditation. This may not seem like great time management during exams, but a ten-minute run could really leave you feeling fresh and with a clear mind to crack on with some revision.
While it’s important to let those close to you know if you’re really struggling and feeling low, know that there is also help available at the university for those struggling during the exam season, including Wellbeing@campuslife. All details can be found on the university website, and the Advice and Support centre is always there, should you need it.
Try and remember that while exam season is tough, it doesn’t last forever and there are always a range of different options and a mass of support available to you – don’t let exam stress come between you and the people you care about. Good luck everyone!
by Jodie Melberg