• Project Angel Island

Destress During Exam Season

Exam Season

It’s finally May, and it’s official. Let exam season begin! With most exams and finals taking place in May across all university, college, and high school campuses, students may feel overwhelmed and stressed out with the amount of studying and content that they have to relearn and remember just weeks before the big day. Often, students neglect their personal needs and health by skipping meals and eating irregularly, not getting enough sleep, or avoiding the shower for a week in order to have more time to study and cram, however eating properly throughout the day can help one become more productive while getting enough sleep plays a significant role in better memory consolidation and brain function. A vital part during exam season is grounding yourself as it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and overstress about the exams. Ultimately, there are many ways and tips to better take care of yourself and effectively study for your finals that can result in more efficient and productive study sessions.

Staying Organized

Writing down all of your to-do lists, due dates, and exam dates can help you get an insight into what your priorities should be for the upcoming week. Using a notebook planner or a calendar is also another great place to do your scheduling for each task or session. Also, making a study plan can also help you better manage your time throughout the day and balance the time you have for studying. I highly recommend using the Pomodoro Method which is a “time management technique that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster and with less mental fatigue” (Cummings 2021).

Regular Self-Care

Taking care of yourself especially during exam season can help alleviate stress and keep you grounded on your goals for the upcoming week. May is usually reserved for intense study sessions, however, following regular self-care rituals can be just as critical as studying. Although social media usually depicts self-care as bubble baths and doing yoga, self-care can just be taking a small break after a long study session, walking around the neighborhood for a quick breather, or doing an activity that calms you. Taking time out of your day to relax or destress shouldn’t be seen as “slacking” or being selfish because an Everyday Health article states that “self-care promotes positive health outcomes, such as fostering resilience, living longer, and becoming better equipped to manage stress.” I recommend using the apps Headspace and Calm before or after studying, or just in general for meditation. Following a regular meditation schedule can

“improve mood, outlook, self-discipline, and sleep patterns” as stated in a Healthline article. Self-care can include:

  • Painting

  • Gardening

  • Talking to your friends

  • Exercising

Eating Regularly and Healthier

Too often, students choose to eat later since they believe that eating will only disrupt the atmosphere of studying, however, that habit can eventually end up becoming an unhealthy and irregular cycle of eating. With exams and finals nearing around the corner, it can be difficult to keep up a healthy eating schedule, especially with eating meals that are nutritious. Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that “Eating throughout the day will help you feel full and avoid hunger and nervous munching when you are studying.” Here are some helpful tips to eat properly and on time:

  • Eat on a regular time - eat at regular times every day to recharge your body and your mind.

  • Pack healthy and easy snacks - nuts, fruits, carrots, or dark chocolate are great snacks that are healthy and have beneficial impacts on your health.

  • Stay hydrated - drinking water and hydrating yourself can help keep your brain and body alert and energized, along with keeping your appetite under control.

Getting Enough Rest

As this is the last piece of advice, it might be the most important out of all of them. Many students deprive themselves of sleep, and even brag about it to their peers, however running on 2 hours of sleep studying for a test or finishing an essay isn’t something “brag-worthy” and is certainly not healthy! Contrary to students’ belief, staying up all night to study or cram for a test isn’t as efficient and won’t help in maximizing the scores you receive on a test. A study in the journal Child Development showed that high school students who sacrificed sleep in order to study will backfire on them since the researchers “were surprised to find that diminishing sleep in order to study was actually associated with doing more poorly on a test, quiz, or homework." Also, UCLA scientist Andrew Fuligni says, “Reduced sleep ... accounts for the increase in academic problems that occurs after days of increased studying. Although these nights of extra studying may seem necessary, they can come at a cost." Getting better sleep can significantly make a difference in how you absorb new information and how well you remember it. When you get a good night’s rest, your body goes through Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which is a “crucial stage for learners because the brain solidifies all that was taken in the day before and clears out old, unnecessary memories to make room for new information” as stated by Dr. Matt Carter, a senior fellow at the University of Washington. Now, for the sake of your GPA and overall well-being, get enough sleep!


Chloe Salva



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