Everyone experiences exam stress differently

For some students, exam stress sharpens their concentration, helping them get stuck into those books, while others feel overwhelmed and find it hard to study.

When does exam stress become too much

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), one of the reasons why students feel so stressed is because they think they’ll be judged solely on academic achievements.

If someone believes self-worth depends on academic achievement, there will be considerable anxiety surrounding any academic assessment.

Add the pressure from family and friends and it’s easy to see how preparing for exams can become overwhelming.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Don’t be so hard on yourself

“Exams are never fun and seldom easy”, says SADAG operations director, Cassey Chambers. “Matric is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. Remind yourself that this is the nature of the exam-beast and don’t be too hard on yourself. “

Students (and parents) feeling overly anxious about exams can call the SADAG helpline on 0800 12 13 14 where trained counsellors are available from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

“We are here to help learners and their parents with the stress. I’ve always believed that failure need not be the end of the world; it can be an incredible opportunity for learning and growth,” says Chambers.

Related: Feed your brain fat

How to ease exam stress

  • Take regular breaks while studying – Study for an hour and then take a 15-minute break before starting your next study session.
  • Go to bed early – Try to get eight hours of sleep a night. Being well rested not only helps you cope with stress, research has found that it also helps you remember what you learnt while studying.
  • Eat well – Like any part of the body, your brain is fuelled by the food you eat. Avoid the temptation to skip meals or fill up on junk food and try and eat balanced, wholesome meals that are packed with nutrients.
  • Breathe – Should you have a panic attack before or during an exam, try this: close your eyes, place your hands and feet in a comfortable position and take a few deep breaths. Once you feel calmer, open your eyes and try again.

Related: Sleep better, fear less

For more tips, join SADAG’s live chats on The South African Depression and Anxiety Group Facebook page on Friday, 10 November at 1pm with psychologist Jeremy Bayer and at 7pm with psychologist Hameeda Suleman.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.