It's the beginning of the end

It’s the first of the last tomorrow; my first final exam of my final set of exams of university.  As most of you know, I have struggled with anxiety, in particular during exams, so this isn’t a time I ever look forward to.  I am only excited this time around because the end is only 9 short exam writing hours away.  Although I pride myself on being virtually anxious-less these days, I still get those butterflies when the time finally comes.

I got my little anxious flutter in my stomach this afternoon, when I opened up some review questions.  My first instinct? Second guess my knowledge and ability.  I immediately had to shut that out, remind myself to relax and trust myself.  All these years of anxiety because I was afraid to fail, when in reality, I just needed to be confident in what I did know rather than worry about what I didn’t.

Exam season is a stressful time for all students, whether we experience extreme nervousness or anxiety or not.  It is a time period where we typically lack proper sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise, and instead spend our hours sedentary, filling our brains up with as much knowledge as possible.  By the end of it all, we aren’t only mentally drained, but physically and emotionally too.  To help you out, give you some encouragement, or maybe insight into something new, I have put together a list of things I do to help calm my nerves and get me in the best state of mind prior to my exams.

  1. Exercise.  I remind my participants every class– even if they don’t see me over the exam period – to get moving! Whether it is a walk, a group fitness class, or 45 minutes of lifting heavy things in the gym, our bodies need that physical break from the books.  It only helps you come back feeling more refreshed than ever to conquer the books.  I personally love waking up early during exams, getting my workout in, and then going straight to studying.  I find I am more energetic and ready to focus and bang out a few hours of studying.
  2. Socialize.  We often forget that we also need social contact.  Locking ourselves in our room or the library for the day won’t make us feel better.  We all need a break and contact with others to take our minds off of studying.  I have planned in time for dinner with friends over the next few weeks so I ensure I get that time.  Living alone makes studying easy, but socializing is the first thing I forget to do.
  3. Take advantage of the weather.  With the sunny days and warmer temperatures how can you not be in a good mood?  I took my notes outside this morning, studying for 2 hours outside.  I got some fresh air, a change of scenery, and was extremely productive. It’s a good way to enjoy the nice days even when you have to work. Organizing group study sessions on a patio or outside the library is also a great way to combine this with tip #2 above.
  4. Sleep.  I have NEVER pulled an all-nighter and don’t plan on it in my last week and a half of school.  Mentally and physically, our bodies need rest.  I always ensure I get the amount of sleep I need to feel ready to tackle my next day.  Naps are also totally fine.  I usually schedule them around study times to break up the day.  

Best of luck to all of those writing exams!  Think of me on April 28th at 11am when I am crying tears of joy for being done.  Someone this weekend commented that it is bitter sweet to be done.  I said nope, just sweet.  University has been an amazing 5 years but I am ready to move on to bigger and better things!

Be fierce.  Be strong.  Be vibrant.


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