Wellbeing during exams

In this post, Parizad looks at wellbeing during exams, and how to look after yourself when under pressure. This applies no matter what stage of education you are at, and will apply when you come to university too, but there is plenty of support and techniques to stay healthy during this time!


The season of exams is finally upon us.  That time we all dread and like to convince ourselves is still far away, even as it approaches around the corner.  But denial is not a healthy way to deal with it. Sadly, this is the time that a student’s mental health is in its most fragile state.  Stress levels are up, that throbbing in your temples just seems to linger forever and the next thing you know, you’re passing out due to lack of sleep.  It’s the closest human kind comes to transforming into real-life zombies.

But there is something you must always remember:

Your studies are not the end of the world. Nothing is more important than your mental health.

I’m not saying this as a student.  This is the exact advice my personal tutor gave me when I told him I always have a hard time coping with pressure, as an answer to why some of my grades from January exams may not have been up to the mark.  This is my first advice regarding wellbeing to you too.  If you’re also having difficulties, let your college or the university know.  They will always reassure you that you come first.  They’ll give helpful advice that can benefit in the long run.  In fact, talking to anyone is a good idea!  Friends, flatmates, family – once it’s off your chest, things don’t seem like such a burden any more.

I would like to outline some of the help that is available here on campus, just so you know what options you have.  First of all, there is the ‘Nightline’.  You can call this number anytime from 8pm-8am and discuss any issues you have in complete confidentiality.  Secondly, there’s the excellent Counselling Service.  You can book an appointment to chat with someone, as well as taking up any of their workshops that help you cope with mental health, in addition to the self-help information they provide.  During exam periods, the university even runs ‘Exam Extra’, an initiative to boost the confidence and performance of students by providing them with useful tips and skills.

This is what has always worked best for me.  Pressure is a perennial presence when you’re a student, you really do have to just learn to live with it.  Deadlines and grades won’t vanish until the day you graduate, so be patient with yourself as you learn to deal with these.

I’m sure an equivalent of the aforementioned services must be available at your school.  But if not, this is how I dealt with A-Level exam pressure.  Never coop yourself up in one space for long periods. When I feel stressed, I get up and stretch.  If that doesn’t help, I go out for fresh air.  Just stare at nature.  Go for a run.  Cry if you want to, let it out.  If nothing is going in that noggin, stop whatever you’re doing and lie down for a while, close your eyes and listen to soothing music.  Or any music that makes you feel good, for that matter.  If blasting the Top 40 party anthems and dancing by yourself in your room will lift your spirits, go for it!

Always make sure you’re hydrated and nourished.  Eat well; treat yourself to a pint of ice-cream at the end of the night before getting that much needed sleep that you must NEVER skip!  All-nighters will render you haggard, and if that means getting a slightly lower grade then so be it.  Once again, nothing is ever more important than your wellbeing.