What is Exam Stress?
What is Exam Stress?
“I was on a short fuse with everyone and everything, and it was just getting worse. I just couldn’t work out what was happening, I just wanted to shut myself away. But when I was on my own I felt as though everyone else was having a better time without me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and start thinking about my study routine - when will I study for math, what about my English exam? All of this just kept going round and round in my head. Looking back, no wonder I was snapping at everyone.”
Does this sound familiar to you? It was how I felt going through school exams, and then later at my nursing exams and then my uni exams. It’s all a long time ago now, but the memories are there. The thing I experienced, and some of you might be going through right now, is exam stress.
Stress is something we all have to deal with. It means different things to different people; I was always amazed at my friend who never got worked up about exams, but then she would get worked up about things that didn’t bother me. What you are feeling depends on how you cope with a situation.
When we feel stressed we generally notice changes in our breathing, breathe faster, our muscles tense, ready for action and our heart beats faster allowing blood to be carried to where it is most needed. As we breathe faster, our mouth may become dry and we sweat more. All of this is because of certain hormones in our body which get produced when we get stressed.
When faced with exams, especially important ones, some people experience stress and can have symptoms such as panic attacks, disturbed or poor sleep, difficulty relaxing or concentrating, be really worried that we are going to fail and life will be over, constantly worried about not getting to university or that dream job because we are so rubbish we won’t pass these exams! You can see how stress can then play a big part in turning our lives upside down if we don’t get a handle on it.
Useful Contacts and Websites
www.studentminds.org.uk Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity.
www.youngminds.org.uk A website for young people about mental health.
MIND. A leading mental health organisation in England and Wales www.mind.org.uk
No Panic. A helpline for people experiencing anxiety: 0808 808 0545 http://www.nopanic.org.uk/