UMASS Blog

Mindfulness during exam periods

As I sit and type this I’ve finished my last exam. It’s been a five-year journey with its fair share of ups and downs but, somewhere along the road, I figured out how to tackle exams in a healthy way. Here are some things I learnt.

A few years ago, whenever it was exam time, I used to be stressed out to the max. Back then I didn’t handle my anxiety well and it would get to the point that I would sometimes feel nauseous. Thankfully today, I’ve learnt how to deal with it and as a result exams don’t seem as daunting anymore. What helped the most? Meditation. I took up meditation a year or two ago after being inspired by my best friend who happens to be quite a spiritual person. I saw how calm and composed she always remained when it came to her studies and I decided to try meditating. It wasn’t easy at first because the restlessness of my mind prevented me to keep “still”. I understood that the same restlessness was also a distraction during revision and didn’t allow me concentrate on the work. I learned to focus my mind with the help of recordings and meditation. As a result, I was able to concentrate much more while revising and untangle the thoughts in my mind. Meditation can be done through other means such as art. I bought a colouring book for adults that contains several intricate patterns to colour in to keep your brain on track and focus.

Personally, taking care of my mind with meditation is as important as taking care of my body in order to feel composed and calm. This often means keeping up with my skincare routine throughout exams. It may sound silly, but it makes me feel like I am keeping myself together and not letting myself go due to exams. I also learnt that listening to instrumental music while I revise blocks out noise from the outside world, allowing me to get into the flow of revision.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I also give myself something to look forward to, either at the start of the day or at the end of the day. Recently I’ve taken a liking to iced chai lattes at the start of the day to perk me up and help me feel less irritated and groggy in the morning. I believe that the little things brighten up my day in such stressful times, and they ultimately keep me motivated.

Learning to cope with exam stress has been a huge personal learning curve during my university life and the discipline is something I hope to carry forward in the next stage of my life. It is important to find the activities that will help you unwind in order to be effective during exam period.

Different activities will work for different people – these are some of the things that have helped me during my studies at university.