4 Healthy Ways Students Can Manage Stress During Exams

No matter how much a student enjoys school or excels academically, exams can add unwanted stress to their life. This is especially true when teens are also working at a part-time job, participating in extracurricular activities or balancing other responsibilities. After all, they may be young and know how to have a good time, but they’re not exactly carefree.

Mental health is important at every age, and it can be helpful to have wellness strategies on hand to navigate challenging times. Here are four ways students can manage stress during exam time and throughout the year.

Prioritize Sleep Health

We all feel better after a good night’s sleep, but there’s more to sleep health than feeling rested in the morning. As Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, the Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women's Health at Harvard Medical School explains, “Scientists have identified an important brain cleaning function that occurs when your brain is at rest. When you're asleep, a waste clearance system in the body known as the glymphatic system runs what is essentially a rinse cycle in the brain.”

Essentially, you need high quality sleep to recharge and repair your brain. On average, a person needs seven to 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. If you suffer from a lack of sleep, you’re at increased risk of illness and will have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. So, while pulling an all-nighter to study might feel like a good use of time, you’d be better off ensuring that your body gets some deep, restorative rest so you can perform at your mental best the next day. Plus, daytime study sessions will be more effective if you’re well-rested and alert.

Struggling to get those Zs? A sound spa may help with falling into a deep sleep, and a smart watch can monitor your sleep hours and quality.

Eat Well to Feel Good

It’s easy to live on ramen or boxed macaroni in college (or even in high school) but our body craves essential vitamins and nutrients to help it thrive. Instead of falling into a coffee-only diet during exam time, students should make healthy eating a part of their daily routine.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats are all important to our physical and cognitive function. Enjoying some coffee is fine but try limiting it in the evening and be sure to drink plenty of water as well. Like good sleep habits, healthy eating habits will help students feel their best and perform at a high level. Still want that bowl of instant noodles or drive-thru burger? Go for it but consider adding some vegetables and hummus on the side.

Move Your Body

Exercise feels good because it releases endorphins, but it’s also been proven to help improve the effectiveness of pre-exam studying. It may even help them ace the test! This is because physical activity increases oxygen flow to the brain. This leads to better cognitive and long-term memory function, a stronger immune system and improved mental health. Plus, exercising during the day will help teens sleep better at night, which in turn delivers that awesome restorative sleep.

Here’s a great mat for floor exercises and a small but effective exercise bike that fits under a desk. Whether it’s running, swimming laps or doing yoga, physical exercise should be a key part of a students’ study routine.

Set Designated Break Times

While they’re focused on studying, eating well, exercising and taking care of your sleep health, it’s important to add a little fun into the mix. You don’t want them to burn out, so be sure they make time for rest or entertainment between study sessions. This might mean going to a movie, reading a book, meeting up with a friend for dinner or simply vegging out in front of the television. If it helps them unwind, it’s worth making time for it in their schedule. After all, everyone needs a bit of fun in their lives — even during exam time.

By Staples Canada

September 21, 2021