How to Manage Stress During Exam/Assignment Period

by | Jun 3, 2024 | Education, Postgraduate | 0 comments

As a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) student constantly juggling university and placement deadlines, I know first-hand how challenging and stressful this period can be. Here’s how I incorporate these stress management techniques into my routine:

Stay Hydrated

One of the simplest yet most overlooked aspects of managing stress is staying hydrated. Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Herbal teas and natural fruit juices are also good options, but try to avoid excessive caffeine and sugary drinks, as they can lead to energy crashes and increased anxiety.

Eat Nutritious Food

Your diet plays a crucial role in how you feel and perform. Eating well-balanced meals rich in vitamins and minerals can enhance brain function, improve mood, and increase energy levels. Focus on incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your diet. Avoid processed foods and excessive sugar, which can cause energy spikes and crashes. Snack on nuts, seeds, yogurt, or fresh fruit to keep your energy levels steady throughout the day.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is often the first thing sacrificed during busy periods, but it’s essential for cognitive function and overall health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Develop a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as reading a book or taking a warm bath, to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. Avoid screens and caffeine close to bedtime, as they can interfere with your sleep quality.

Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. Going to the gym, participating in a fitness class, or even taking a brisk walk can help clear your mind and release endorphins, which improve your mood. Aim to incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine. Whether it’s lifting weights, doing cardio, or practising yoga, find an activity that you enjoy and make it a regular part of your schedule. Exercise not only helps reduce stress but also improves your overall health and energy levels.

Break Down Tasks

Large projects and assignments can feel overwhelming, which increases stress levels. Breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps can make them less daunting and help you stay organised. Create a detailed to-do list for each day, prioritising tasks based on deadlines and importance. Check off each task as you complete it, giving yourself a sense of accomplishment and progress. This approach not only reduces stress but also makes your workload seem more manageable.

Make To-Do Lists

To-do lists are a powerful tool for staying organised and focused. Start by listing all the tasks you need to complete, then break them down into smaller, actionable steps. Assign deadlines to each task and prioritise them according to urgency and importance. Use tools like planners, apps, or simple sticky notes to keep track of your lists. Reviewing your list regularly and adjusting it as needed will help you stay on track and ensure you don’t forget important tasks.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to handle everything on your own. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to classmates, friends, or family members for support. Form study groups where you can share notes and discuss difficult topics. If you’re struggling with a particular subject, consider seeking help from a tutor or your professor. Sometimes, just talking about your stress with someone who understands, can make a significant difference.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine can help manage stress effectively. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or even a short walk can help clear your mind and reduce anxiety. Find what works best for you and make it a part of your daily routine, especially during high-stress periods.

Take Breaks and Reward Yourself

Lastly, don’t forget to take regular breaks to rest and recharge. Working non-stop can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Use the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. After four cycles, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. Use these breaks to stretch, take a walk, or do something you enjoy. Rewarding yourself for completing tasks can also keep you motivated and provide positive reinforcement.

Managing stress during exam and assignment periods is crucial for maintaining both your mental and physical health. With these strategies, you can reduce stress and enhance your performance during critical academic periods. As a PGCE student, these practices have been invaluable in helping me handle the demands of both university and placement deadlines, ensuring I stay healthy and productive.

Written by Kareemah, current Secondary PGCE student at The University of Manchester