Managing stress during exams
Did you know stress is as contagious as a cold? Research by Griffith’s Professor Paula Brough, from the School of Applied Psychology, investigated the effects of stress and found it doesn’t just impact you, it impacts the people around you as our emotions, whether positive or negative, can be passed on from one person to another. You may have experienced this during the trimester when you had assignments due or exams coming up – as you start to stress, others do too. The research conducted by Professor Brough studied the impact and implications of our negative emotions. For example, when you’re stressed about assignment or exams those negative emotions can be transferred through to others and can hinder productively and result in procrastination.
With study week well underway and exams around the corner, it is important to understand the implications of stress and how to manage it. We caught up with Professor Brough to get some tips on recognising and managing stress – so you can avoid passing it on to, or catching it from, those around you.
Changing your perspective
We all have different ways of dealing with stress, which is highly influenced by our perception. Our perspective plays an immense role in our emotions and there are two different ways we can approach a situation, viewing it as a threat or a challenge.
These are situations in which we feel the most vulnerable, scared and anxious, such as exams. Most of us hate the idea of taking exams and have a plethora of negative emotions resulting in stress and anxiety. These negative emotions can lead to us procrastinating and reduced levels of productivity.
Here’s an alternative perspective – challenge your abilities. Look at exams as a way to challenge yourself and an opportunity to show what you’ve learned. Take the study load and break it down into chunks and remember to reward yourself. Our shift in perspective from exams being a threat to a challenge can help us be more productive and efficient.
Recognising the signs of stress
It may not always be obvious when we are stressed, so how do we know? Here are some things to look out for.
- Changes in behaviors: we become more anxious, tense, and snappy towards friends and family.
- Changes in sleeping patterns: we can either sleep more or less than we usually do when we’re stressed.
- Stress eating: This is something to be cautious of! When we are stressed we tend to eat more junk and fast food and this can make you feel even worse during times of stress. If you’re after easy recipes check out our previous blog on easy recipes for students.
Managing stress during exams
- Don’t avoid studying. Get organised and start studying ASAP. The more you put it off the more stress it will cause.
- Space it out. Make a study plan and stick to it. Break up the study load into smaller more manageable chunks.
- Reward yourself with breaks.
- Get out and about for some air to reset and start studying again feeling fresh.
- Look for support and study groups. Get together with other classmates and study together. Explaining key issues in your own words will help you memorise the content.
- Don’t turn to short-term relief such as alcohol. Rather go to the gym or for a run to release that tension and reset your mind.
- Here are a few more tips for eating and staying healthy during exams.
More information on exams and student support services
Student services run stress management courses during university and also provide counseling.
Griffith’s exams page also offers study tips and information what you can bring into the exams, and other useful information
Are you thinking of studying psychology at Griffith? Check out our degrees and admission information.