If you have a big test coming up or, worse, exam week, you might be feeling stressed out. Unfortunately, that stress could lead to poorer exam scores as well as a lowered immune system and general upset.
Here are some tips for destressing in the days and hours before a big test.
How to Destress Leading up to the Test
In the weeks and days leading up to the big exam, follow these steps to keep a handle on your stress levels:
- Make a schedule. Don’t fly by the seat of your pants with regards to fitting study time into your days. Sit down and write out a schedule that leaves you plenty of time for test preparation, and then stick to it.
- Break it down. Include in your schedule exactly what you should be covering during each study session. That way, you’ll be sure to get to everything and avoid the stressful event of remembering something you forgot to study at the last minute.
- Don’t sacrifice sleep. You won’t be able to perform well if you are sleep deprived. Don’t make the mistake of burning the candle at both ends in the time leading up to your test. Get plenty of good sleep so your brain can function optimally.
- Eat and drink right. Don’t rely on junk food and caffeine during your exam prep time. Eat good quality food, take time to eat mindfully, and be sure to stay well-hydrated. If your body is running on suboptimal fuel, your stress levels are bound to go up.
- Make time for exercise. Be sure to exercise every day. Even a 20-minute walk outside will help you clear your mind, release pent-up energy, and feel relaxed.
- Use aromatherapy. Lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and jasmine are all calming scents. You can use their essential oils in a diffuser to help you relax.
- Practice deep breathing several times a day. Take time out from your study schedule to spend 5 minutes a day doing deep breathing exercises to relax your mind and body.
- Pack for the test the day before. Don’t leave anything to chance the day of the exam. Be sure you have everything you’ll need for the test packed and ready to go well ahead of the time you’ll need to leave.
- Use visualization and positive affirmations. Spend time each day visualizing yourself taking the exam and doing well. Use positive affirmations to create an expectation for success.
How to Destress on the Day of the Test
On the day of the test, it’s just as important to stay relaxed as it is in the days leading up to the exam. Here are some ways to stay calm and fly through your test:
- Take a bath or relaxed shower. Give yourself time before the test to take a nice shower or bath. The warm water will relax your muscles and help you feel calm.
- Eat good food. Eat mindfully before your test. Don’t eat while studying or on the go. Sit down, focus on your meal, and allow yourself time to enjoy it. Choose foods that are energizing, filling, and nutritious like eggs, fish, nuts, and yogurt.
- Give yourself extra time to get there. Don’t leave late because nothing is quite as stressful as having to rush to get to a test on time. Leave yourself plenty of time to get there and perform the following 2 steps.
- Take 15 minutes to go through your notes. Briefly skim over all of your study notes and refresh your mind on anything that’s still fuzzy.
- Do your deep breathing immediately prior to the test. Take 5 minutes to do deep breathing exercises before you go in to the test. Use your visualization and positive affirmations one last time.
You can find tips for how to relax and focus during your test here: “How to Stay Calm During a Test.”