Managing Stress

By, Caitlin Smith

Crossing your fingers that it will be sparse, you anxiously check the assessment calendar. To your dismay, tests in every subject are scheduled all in the same week! As the tests are approaching, you review your homework assignments, class activities, and notes. You make a study guide, redo challenging problems, and successfully complete a review packet. Despite all this hard work, on the day of the test, your stomach drops just thinking about taking the assessment. You start plugging numbers into your calculator to determine the percentage you need to get to have a satisfactory grade for the semester. If you don’t do well on this test, you have no chance of going to a good college, you tell yourself.

If this sequence of events has happened to you, you are not alone. As Winsor students, we all face a building amount of pressure to reach high academic standards while managing other aspects of our lives, such as extracurriculars and family.

How can we turn this pre-test adrenaline and anticipation into a positive outcome? In other words, how can we de-stress before a test?

Before the test date even arrives, it is especially important to set goals for study sessions and make a system that works for you. Making a schedule with built-in breaks, for example, will ensure that you don’t forget to review any material or cram in everything at the last minute. Also, focus on your weaknesses when studying so that you don’t waste time practicing what comes easy to you.

Drink water throughout your study sessions (and throughout the day); research shows that drinking water boosts your brain’s reaction time. Decaffeinated tea might also help calm your nerves.

Get active! Exercising will relax your muscles and occupy your mind, especially if you work out with a friend. Though it may seem counterintuitive to step away from your study space, it is important to take breaks and reward yourself for your efforts.

Relax with aromatherapy, a hot bath, or deep breathing exercises. These self-care practices will divert your attention from an upcoming assessment. Also, don’t overthink the amount of sleep you should be getting the night before a test. Disconnect from electronics two hours before going to bed, and listen to calming music, or read a book until you’re drowsy but only go to bed when you feel tired. When adrenaline kicks in the next morning, your body will be wide awake.

Today’s the day! Remember to eat a balanced breakfast and go through your morning routine as usual. If you’re especially jittery, perform a series of deep breathing exercises to focus and relax. Though it may feel like you’ve already forgotten everything, you will be able to recall what you studied when asked a specific question on the test. Look over your notes and steer clear of others’ contagious stress. Comparing yourself to the girl who is speedily reciting theorems next to you is not an effective way to stay relaxed. You’ve studied well, and you’ve got this!