Furry's guide to surviving exams, avoiding stress and staying mentally healthy Watch

furryface12
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This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and because of the time of year we've dedicated today to exam stress. Parts of this guide have been taken from last year's thread, while others are new and more general advice.

Exams can be hugely stressful, especially when it feels like the rest of your life is resting on them. Everyone responds to this in different ways, and some of these are naturally healthier than others. Whilst a certain amount of worry is normal- and can even help- it's important to try not to let this get out of hand and start affecting your overall health. This guide is about trying to stay mentally healthy in exams, and things that might help to do before and during them.

Help! I don't know where to start!

It sounds stupid but, at the beginning! If you've not done anything yet then work through a past paper and see what areas you're struggling with most. Pick say three per subject and try and work these out, then do another paper and repeat as much as you have time for. A couple of days before the exam stop and read through some revision notes or similar for what you haven't covered, just to jog your memory so you don't forget what you already knew.

If it's the starting itself that's making you anxious, try and work out what it is that's stopping you. If it’s motivation, come up with a reward for doing things, so half an hour of geography gets a chocolate bar or an hour of physics means a TV show. If it's concentration, have a walk around or try with or without music on. If you have too much distraction, try a change of scene and put everything somewhere else. If it's fear of failure, take the smallest, easiest part and do that- then you've started, and you can do it! Once you've managed this, hopefully it'll be easier to continue.


There's too much to do and I can't stop...

This feeling is horrible, but if you're exhausted in an exam you won't do as well, so whatever it takes you need to try not to get to that point. Make a timetable with when you're going to eat, sleep and take breaks. Make them as regular as possible and try and stick to it. If you can then exercise and be social a bit too, you'd be amazed at the difference running round outside for a moment or ten minutes talking to a friend can make sometimes! If you're talking to them then you're not the only one not revising too. Don't work right up until you sleep- even if it's only a few minutes, you need time for your brain to wind down and have some time for yourself.

To destress everyone has their favourite thing: hot baths, walks, playing with pets, films, games, TV shows, books, colouring and online jigsaws are some common ones that a lot of people like. Basically anything that you enjoy doing and can take your mind off things for a little bit. You could always try something new and see how far you get by the end of exams!


On the day of the exam

Everyone has their own routine here but do make sure you know where you're going and leave plenty of time to get there, if possible check an official timetable too in case you have things down wrong! Make sure you've had plenty of sleep and something to eat, and if possible try not to cram and tire yourself out. If people make you stressed go for a walk round without them, they'll only make it worse.

Once you're in there take your time, work through things methodically and try and stay calm. If you start to panic take a minute to sit and breathe, forget where you are and have a drink- if it means you're calmer and more focused when you restart it'll be much easier. Make sure you know what the paper looks like, how many questions you need to answer, what time it finishes and what you should have with you in advance as that's all added stress you don't need. After the exam, try and move on and don't let it affect you in any that come afterwards. Tempting as they are the TSR-style dissections don't actually help very much!


General advice

  • Don't panic! Exams aren't the be all and end all, and there is always another way to get where you want to go.
  • Anything you can do is better than none... and people have rarely done as much as they say they have. They may seem super confident, but no-one else is, and there will always be someone else in your situation.
  • Your health is most important. Always. Without that, you can't do anything.
  • Set small, manageable goals and tick them off on a list so you can always see that you've achieved something.
  • Take regular breaks and remember to eat, drink, sleep and if possible exercise. These things don't seem that important at the time but they really are, I can't emphasise this enough.
  • Working with friends is great only if you actually do something!
  • If you need help, ask. Teachers, friends, family, TSR, doctors, whoever. A problem shared is a problem halved, and whatever it may be you will not be the only one.


I think things might be getting out of hand?

If you're thinking it you're unfortunately probably right. Don't panic though! There's loads of people out there that can help you, they need to know you need it first though. There is the Samaritans, Nightline and Childline, who all have email and/or instant messaging services if you don't want to talk out loud. You can go and see your GP and there's also things like student support services at your school or uni. If all else fails, the TSR Mental health forum isn't the worst place to come either! Exams aren't worth making yourself ill over- trust me I've been there. If the stress is affecting your life, relationships, sleep or general wellbeing then it's time to seek help. You can do it!


How do you cope with exam stress? Do you have any tips for when it's getting too much? Comment below and let people know! And last but not least...Good luck!
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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This is a really good, comprehensive guide that should help many people! I hope lots of students get to see this and take the time to read it, even if it's just to remind themselves that they're not alone

When I was in my final year of my undergrad, I made a point of circuiting my college and walking round the whole thing once every day. We have a lake and big lawns and stuff so it was nice and soothing, and just good to get the blood pumping and give the brain a bit of a rest
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Deyesy
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If I think things are getting too much; I'll make sure just to take the evening/morning/afternoon off relaxing and chilling and just try and forget about the revision I have to do so I come back to it several hours later with a much clearer and motivated mindset
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Tbh....

I dont know if i can cope with stress. I just grit my teeth and bear it.

It's difficult to relax in a hot bath and the like when you have exams and revision constantly on your mind.

Sometimes it hits me really hard and i feel like my head is going to explode.
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black1blade
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Yeah better to spend an hour revising then an hour chilling out than 2 hours of mediocre revision where you end up stressing out and procrastinating loads. Also don't lose sleep revising, that wont help you remember anything at all. Also remember exams aren't just memory tests, you need to actually practice doing questions so I recommend you make that as enjoyable an experience as possible, listen to music while doing it and having a cat to stroke on your lap helps I find XD.
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furryface12
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(Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
This is a really good, comprehensive guide that should help many people! I hope lots of students get to see this and take the time to read it, even if it's just to remind themselves that they're not alone

When I was in my final year of my undergrad, I made a point of circuiting my college and walking round the whole thing once every day. We have a lake and big lawns and stuff so it was nice and soothing, and just good to get the blood pumping and give the brain a bit of a rest
Hope so! That's a really good idea- just getting outside and moving even if people don't have such nice surroundings! You funny Oxford people

(Original post by Deyesy)
If I think things are getting too much; I'll make sure just to take the evening/morning/afternoon off relaxing and chilling and just try and forget about the revision I have to do so I come back to it several hours later with a much clearer and motivated mindset
I think people don't realise how important breaks are tbh. They can be if anything more useful than revision when properly used, but everyone's​taught like it should be constant with them as an afterthought

(Original post by Anonymous)
Tbh....

I dont know if i can cope with stress. I just grit my teeth and bear it.

It's difficult to relax in a hot bath and the like when you have exams and revision constantly on your mind.

Sometimes it hits me really hard and i feel like my head is going to explode.
Have you ever looked into mindfulness or anything like that? It might be worth a thought. I think that's why I used to like playing my instruments in breaks or going for a walk and things like that. Walking is a good de-stessor anyway but music is all consuming, and that's needed sometimes.

(Original post by black1blade)
Yeah better to spend an hour revising then an hour chilling out than 2 hours of mediocre revision where you end up stressing out and procrastinating loads. Also don't lose sleep revising, that wont help you remember anything at all. Also remember exams aren't just memory tests, you need to actually practice doing questions so I recommend you make that as enjoyable an experience as possible, listen to music while doing it and having a cat to stroke on your lap helps I find XD.
Exactly this! To all of it, including the questions and things. Although not so sure about your liking of cats, dogs are way better :ninja:


Moved this over to study help, hopefully more people will see it here!
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Protostar
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This is excellent, and couldn't have come at a better time!

I personally deal with stress terribly, which is particularly bad seeing as I get stressed really easily! If I'm feeling particularly bogged down with revision stress then I usually do one of the following things:
Going to the gym: Exercise has been mentioned already as something that can help, and it's the thing that works the most for me by miles. The more stressed I am, the more often I go, and the more I push myself when I'm there

Planning my time: Maybe I'm weird but planning things is really stress-relieving for me. If I know what I need to do when, it usually eases my mind a bit.

Saving it all until later: Not the best, but it gives temporary relief (quite bad that this is my most common method though...)

If I get stuck or nervous in an exam then I try to slow down and stay calm, maybe coming back to that question later. This tends to help a lot as usually I'll spot what I was missing when I'm a bit more relaxed

These will only be my second set of external exams so I'm still learning I suppose. I've taken a lot in from last year though, as I allowed myself to get to breaking point with my stress levels... :crazy:
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furryface12
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(Original post by NiamhM1801)
This is excellent, and couldn't have come at a better time!

I personally deal with stress terribly, which is particularly bad seeing as I get stressed really easily! If I'm feeling particularly bogged down with revision stress then I usually do one of the following things:
Going to the gym: Exercise has been mentioned already as something that can help, and it's the thing that works the most for me by miles. The more stressed I am, the more often I go, and the more I push myself when I'm there

Planning my time: Maybe I'm weird but planning things is really stress-relieving for me. If I know what I need to do when, it usually eases my mind a bit.

Saving it all until later: Not the best, but it gives temporary relief (quite bad that this is my most common method though...)

If I get stuck or nervous in an exam then I try to slow down and stay calm, maybe coming back to that question later. This tends to help a lot as usually I'll spot what I was missing when I'm a bit more relaxed

These will only be my second set of external exams so I'm still learning I suppose. I've taken a lot in from last year though, as I allowed myself to get to breaking point with my stress levels... :crazy:
Good! Planning your time definitely isn't weird, a lot of people find it useful- me included to an extent. Timetables just stressed me out but I used other variants and probably will again when I'm back into study. Glad you've learnt from last year a bit, that's all part of it the rest is good too, bar saving it all for later but think we're all probably guilty of that! :lol:
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Baniazz
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Thank you!
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considering
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Is it useful to take a sleeping pill the day before my exam as it takes me so long to sleep with the thought of "my exam is tommorow" no matter how hard i try and shake it off, it happened to me in the mock and I barely got any sleep but this is the real thing. Should i?
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furryface12
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(Original post by considering)
Is it useful to take a sleeping pill the day before my exam as it takes me so long to sleep with the thought of "my exam is tommorow" no matter how hard i try and shake it off, it happened to me in the mock and I barely got any sleep but this is the real thing. Should i?
It's up to you but I wouldn't if I'm honest. Sleeping pills can often make you feel drowsy and fairly rubbish the day after, particularly if your body isn't used to them. I can definitely see the temptation though. Have you looked into mindfulness at all? That could help, and things like making sure you stop revision early the night before and turn off screens etc, then little bits of selfcare like having a warm bath/hot chocolate/reading a book/whatever you find relaxing too. Good luck, you can do it! :hugs:
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(Original post by furryface12)
It's up to you but I wouldn't if I'm honest. Sleeping pills can often make you feel drowsy and fairly rubbish the day after, particularly if your body isn't used to them. I can definitely see the temptation though. Have you looked into mindfulness at all? That could help, and things like making sure you stop revision early the night before and turn off screens etc, then little bits of selfcare like having a warm bath/hot chocolate/reading a book/whatever you find relaxing too. Good luck, you can do it! :hugs:
Mindfulness? Never heard of it. And yeah your last point hopefully i'll do that because i always tend to stay up late night on my computer studying, I should leave a few hours to relax.Thank you
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furryface12
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(Original post by considering)
Mindfulness? Never heard of it. And yeah your last point hopefully i'll do that because i always tend to stay up late night on my computer studying, I should leave a few hours to relax.Thank you
Basically it helps you stay in the moment, like a form of meditation. Different people find different bits useful (if any)- I tend to just stick to colouring/online jigsaws and stuff but worth a google. And good that you'll do that- hope it helps!
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(Original post by furryface12)
Basically it helps you stay in the moment, like a form of meditation. Different people find different bits useful (if any)- I tend to just stick to colouring/online jigsaws and stuff but worth a google. And good that you'll do that- hope it helps!
Will google it right now! Thanks!!!
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stressedsam!
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I get stressed quite easily but the thing is i'll just be stressing and stressing and not revising because i'm too stressed but I hardly revise tbh and I want to try harder this year seeing as it is my last year in school!
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angiebanton
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For me, taking breaks in between your study sessions can refresh your mind. During these breaks, you can just spend a few minutes looking outside your window or listening to music that can boost your concentratin in studying.
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beanbean500
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Welp I usually end up panicking but it's quite useful to have a stress ball or squishy object with you (I kept mine in my blazer pocket). It can also be useful if you get hand cramps so you can exercise your hand a bit
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anasthaxx31
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this was an amazing advice thankyouuuuuuu for making my day xoxoxo
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