Why do students suffer from stress and anxiety during their exams? It is the most common situation in students because they take too much tension of exams, and managing stress is not easy. After COVID-19 stress rate has been increased in students because, in these days of quarantine, they faced too many difficulties in their studies the schools, universities were off, students were taking online classes, giving online tests, but this caused various mental health issues. However, Stress in students is not just because of COVID-19 and quarantine. There are other reasons for exam stress in students; according to the survey report of Daly and putwain[i], about 16.4 percent of post-secondary students experiencing test anxiety. This report stated that female students experienced more test anxiety than boys. According to another report, about 22.5 percent of female students experienced test anxiety, and only 10.3 percent of male students were highly tested anxious. Another study [ii] found that teaching stress management techniques is an excellent strategy for assisting students under stress and strain.
Moreover, exam stress can cause different health issues such as high cortisol levels, high blood pressure, sleep insomnia, mental health problems, etc. Therefore, it is crucial to cope with this exam stress and anxiety. But the question is how to get rid of exam stress? There are different ways of managing stress, but it is good to adopt scientifically backed strategies.
Symptoms of exams stress
There are various symptoms of exam stress such as,
Here are some physical symptoms such as
- Stomach pain
- High heart rate
- Difficulty in breathing
- Heavy eyes
There are different causes of exams stress. Few are mentioned below
- Poor preparation
- Lengthy course
- Shortage of time
- Poor communication of teacher
- Tension of grade
- Desire of Scholarship
- Family pressure
- Fear of failing the exam
Scientifically backed strategies for coping exam stress
Here are few scientifically proved strategies; these strategies help to reduce stress and anxiety
- Get quality sleep
Reading for several hours a day can be tiring. Study affects the sleep cycle, and it can cause stress and many other mental health problems. Stress and sleep are related to each other. In anxiety and stress conditions, students can’t fall asleep. Similarly, according to reports, students should take 8 hours of quality sleep.
- Read good books
According to research, reading can lower stress by 68 percent. In addition, reading can calm down the person by reducing heart rate and decreasing muscle tension. A Study stated that reading a book good book for 10 minutes is perfect for reducing stress.
- Reduce sugar intake
According to research, cortisol is released when a person is tensed. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Cortisol affects sugar level, so sugar level is directly proportional to stress. So to feel stress-free, you should reduce your sugar level.
Multi-tasking is not suitable for health. It causes high blood pressure and increases heart. This can stress out a person. Multitasking seems reasonable, but actually, it is just a waste of time.
A student should avoid multitasking in the following ways.
- Before doing anything, get rid of all the things which distract you
- make a list of all the things you have to do in a day.do them one by one
- Set a deadline for every task
Think about happy memories
A study of 2007 proved that serotonin helps the brain to work on its fuel. A person can produce serotonin by Thinking about the moments or person who makes you smile or thinking about beautiful childhood memories. Additionally, sunlight exposure also increases the level of serotonin. So if a person remains in sunlight for 5 to 15 minutes, it can keep the person happy. But it would be best to use sunscreen to avoid direct light.
- Write down fear
According to a study, writing down fears on a page just before the exam can help students in reducing stress levels.
- Eat dark chocolate
Dark chocolate can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Modern researches say that having dark chocolate daily lowers stress hormones release and helps manage stress and anxiety. So it fulfils the cravings of chocolate lovers as well as decreases depressive episodes. But chocolate must be dark in this case, i.e., it should contain 70% or more cocoa. Moreover, it is rich in calories, so never consume it more than 40 or 60grams per day.
Take vitamin c
Stress may be caused by hypertension or increased cortisol levels. Vitamin C helps in maintaining both of these, thus relieves stress as well. However, the human body does not produce vitamin C, so you need to fulfil its requirement by proper food intake. So students should take vitamin c daily for managing stress and anxiety.
Following fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C
- Deep breathing Exercises
Deep breathing directly acts on cortisol levels and relieves stress, and improves overall mental health. Here are the following breathing exercises.
- Belly breathing
Sit in a very comfortable position and place one hand on the belly. Breathe deeply through the nose and feel that your hand is being pushed outwards as lungs start filling with air. Now exhale the air and start feeling that your hands are moving inwards as your lungs deflate.
- Morning Breathing
After getting up in the morning, stand straight, bend slightly on your knees, and let the arms hang limply towards the floor. Breathe in comfortably and slowly while returning to your original standing posture. Straighten your head at the end. Now exhale slowly and return to your bent position at the end of your breath. Repeat this 5-6 times
- Adapt Aromatherapy
- Aromatherapy is best in evoking emotions and memories and impacts your nervous system. But, according to the report, it helps in relieving exam stress. There are different oils available that help to relieve stress and help in improving your sleep pattern.
- Ylang Ylang
- Clary sage
Different types of tea help lower stress and anxiety, such as Black tea, which helps relieve stress. In addition, Peppermint tea is a natural muscle relaxant so helps in relieving stress and anxiety, and Chamomile tea reduces irritability and insomnia. Additionally, Balm tea relieves depression by reducing blood cortisol levels.
Exam stress is a common thing in students, but it is important to reduce stress because it can cause severe effects on student’s physical and mental health. Stress can lead to different health issues such as anxiety, depression, aggression, mood swings. It also causes suicidal thoughts in students. So it is important to deal with exam stress and anxiety. Different things help reduce stress, such as dark chocolate, black tea, exercise, reading good books, vitamin c, etc.
[i] Dave Putwain, Anthony Daly. (2014). Test anxiety prevalence and gender differences in a sample of English secondary school students. Educational Studies Volume 40, 2014 – Issue 5.
[ii] Y Abed, and F, M Nabati, P Alborzkouh, M Zainali, & Shahgholy Ghahfarokhi. (2015). A review of the effectiveness of stress management skills training on college students’ academic vitality and psychological well-being. Journal of medicine and life 8(Spec Iss 4): 39–44. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5319270/