This month the Healthy Campus blogs are focussed on helping stay mentally healthy during the exam season. Our experts from the University Counselling Service have provided a series of articles to help you through what can be a stressful time.
From a seasoned procrastinator who wins the battle sometimes.
Worrying that you may perform poorly or fail your exams is totally normal. For many students, this fear acts as an incentive and a motivator to study hard. However, too much worry will put your brain into a survival mode. In this case, and as far as your brain is concerned, studying – even the mere sight of a book increases fear – and your brain will want you to run away, hence procrastination.
Find the positives.
The key to dealing with procrastination is retaining a positive frame of mind. How should you do this? How about thinking over the potential rewards and achievement of studying. Will your marks leverage you closer to that dream degree? Will the study show your family you are an individual of integrity willing to put the extra effort in? How will you feel knowing that you have taken some level of control in what is an unpredictable situation? All of these examples are a way of opening your thoughts to the possibilities of doing well and highlighting the perceived benefits of making the effort and making this a primary focus in your life, right now.
Detonating the delay response.
Pretending that your time on unrelated activities – such as going out – feels more enjoyable is a nonsense. The procrastinator in you will be letting you know that you should be making more of an effort to study. Try and not get swept up on loosely related activities that ultimately will not help either – such as decorating your study plan, buying revision materials or revising with large groups of friends.
Dealing with expectations.
I am sure that you can recall an exam from the past where your devoted your time and best efforts to concentrate. Looking back, how did it feel? This brings the focus back to what is essential to breaking a pattern of procrastination – YOU. This is your opportunity to achieve and show yourself what you can do. It’s ultimately not about your parents expectations or your peers. It’s your degree.
Deal with one exam at a time.
The overwhelming sense of obligation to study can feel like a huge hurdle and difficult to meet head-on. This is where a revision planner can really help to dilute the sense of pressure. Focus on the dates of the exams and their corresponding subject matter. Be honest with yourself too. Which subjects are you feeling uncertain about? Which make you feel anxious? Check with friends and see how they’ve addressing them. Ask your tutor for support in weak areas. It’s also acceptable to say you have a favoured subject area. Retain this enthusiasm and help it to pull your less favoured areas into line.
Procrastinators can sometimes think there is a sense of pointlessness in taking control when it feels like the outcomes are beyond their control. What’s the point I’ve messed up already? I’m thinking of changing my degree anyway? Such questions are irrelevant to the process of exam study. A committed approach for this short period of time will make you feel more positive about the outcome and give you more options about what follows, whatever that may be. So make the best of the situation.
Even though there are (many) times when study and revision feels laborious, uncertain and potentially a waste of time it really isn’t, is it?
You can do this by practising simple breathing or relaxation exercises. This will help you to feel more composed, rational and comfortable. It’s a much better starting point to commence your revision.
Watch out for all the excuses you have in delaying your revision.
Here’s 4 final pointers that readdress concerns into incentives.
- Remind yourself of the consequences – you are going to feel bad if you don’t do some work.
- Reward yourself for the commitment – you are going to feel more positive about the exams (and less guilty) if you make a concentrated effort to study for this period.
- Reflect on the temporary nature of the exams – this is a concentrated effort for a short period of time. The time will pass and you can continue with a normal life once they are out the way. Take heart in this and mull it over when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- React; don’t delay, don’t put it off and don’t find other things to divide your time. Make a start early. If you haven’t already, start now.
The University Counselling Service can be access via their website.
Remember exams are stressful and it’s perfectly normal to feel this stress. There are numerous events across campus to help you cope with the burden.
Tomorrow we’ll be looking at reducing your stress levels during revision.