Exam season can be a challenging time. That’s true whether you’re the person taking the exams or someone watching a loved one go through it all!

If you’re experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety due to exams, it’s important to know how to calmly navigate these feelings. While symptoms may feel uncontrollable at times, there are techniques that can help.

Let’s get started by understanding exactly what we’re dealing with.

What are stress and anxiety?

Stress is how we react when we feel under pressure. It often occurs when we’re in
a situation we don’t feel like we can control – like, for example, an exam!

Our body reacts as if we are under threat. The nervous system shuts down, putting us into fight or flight. This may manifest as fatigue, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, or even gut issues. Often, it can lead to anxiety.

Performance anxiety is particularly relevant to exam season. This is a feeling of unease, dread or fear relating to a future task and our ability to perform. As you might imagine, it’s is a very common reaction to exam-induced
stress.

Techniques for coping with exam stress

Observe: Acknowledge that you feel stressed or anxious. Don’t try to distract yourself from it; allow it to be there. Then notice all the other things you are also feeling: the air in your nostrils; the room’s temperature; are you hungry, thirsty or tired?

Accept: Understanding the ‘why’ can be a huge help. You feel like this because you want to do well. It shows you care! Tell your brain that your feeling of stress or anxiety is a feeling of adrenaline or passion.

Let go: Take three deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. With every exhale, repeat in your mind, ‘I am safe.’ Shake off your hands, and have a glass of water. Everything is going to be fine.

Interested in more ways to manage your feelings? Try these simple stress-reducing yoga poses.