A Psychologist's guide to do an exam mindfully.
Updated: Jul 28
Exams, It is a singular noun that causes the most plural affliction. When we think of “exams,” it would always trigger some sort of stress, anxiety, uncertainty and, for some, it can actually be a powerful stimulus that can unleash underlying mental health problems.
Contents of exams, changes of ways and means to formulate rubrics to grade examinations and determine grades, these are factors that increase the anxiety and stresses felt by students, worldwide. In a study conducted back in 2014, 201 teens have committed suicide while waiting for their exam results, as per the BBC website. Though some students do find ways to cope with stress, some simply cannot get out of the sulk and misery. Parents are encouraged to speak and communicate with their children at consistency so as to allow their children to be able to comfortably express any distress felt, especially when the student is housed external to his or parents’ home, like those away for college are in boarding schools.
In sum, school and exams may bring or trigger different mental illnesses if left unaddressed or suppressed, Depression, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Thoughts of implicating self-harm, suicidal thoughts are just signs of an already existing mental health condition and must not be taken lightly especially when expressed verbally because it is a sign of reaching out, wanting help. However, there are tips that we can easily instill upon ourselves to draw tranquility and self-peace, simple ways that we can also share with those who we know are going through the stress and anxiety.
Collect and Organize Thoughts - may it be through a journal, notes, memo pads or any other methods that can remind us of what we must do and in what order, this can help. To be more specific, here are some ways and means to help us collect and organize our thoughts:
Listing - scribbling down any question that may be the cause of anxiety will remind us to prioritize this when we try to seek for answers.
Mind Mapping - sketching or illustration can help the mind focus on a study plan.
Bullet Journaling - creating agendas or an itinerary can help organize thoughts and to allow one to come up with a plan of immediate action based on priorities.
Calendar Event Reminders - set up a series of calendar-based alerts to serve as a reminder when what item or what subject is due for studying.
T-Charts - separate subjects that you already understand and subjects that you still need to give more focus on attention on. This will ease the mind and organize the clutter that is creating anxiety for you.
Study Milestone Treats - Rewarding oneself whenever you achieve a level of understanding or when you tackle a mind-boggling subject or problem is highly recommended. This triggers the mind to go into an appreciation mode, a joyous feeling that exalts the spirit and eventually one’s mental health.
Combat Fears with Positivity - The best way to combat negativity and to promote positivity is to spend more time with those you love and care about and vice versa. There is nothing more refreshing than to be surrounded by people who genuinely care about you. Ranting sessions with friends and family can help too, let out the steam. Seeing people who you have a positive relationship with, no matter how short, can relieve anxiety and stress and gives a person a new page to work on after every hour spent with family and friends.
Tip-Top Physical Health - Eating healthy food can optimize the resistance of the body and mind to counter any unpleasantries, including mental weariness or anxiety. Never compromise your immune system by succumbing to quick meals and junk food. Exercising is one of the best ways to relieve the body of stress. Exercise does not need to be strenuous. A short walk for 15 to 30 minutes can do wonders for the mind, the body and the spirit.
Talk to a Counselor - All schools provide some sort of support for students. These counsellors are there to help and they do have the training to do so. Make use of talking to your school’s counsellor when something bothers you and thus compromising your mental health. Never bottle in any feeling of anxiety, If you do not wish to speak to a counselor, a good friend who truly loves you will do if speaking to your immediate family is impossible.
At the end, and if all else fails, professional help can also be considered if the burden is just too great to bear. A professional who provides services in either psychiatry or psychology can help you ease the anxiety you feel in school, especially when you are faced with the pressures of having to face an examination. Get the help you need, when you need it.