4 Ways to Manage Exam Stress

4 Ways to Manage Exam Stress

Exam time is stressful, but Psychiatric Nursing students have a particular advantage. Not only are they experts on the effects stress can have on mental health and on the body, but they are full of advice and techniques for managing stress.

Here are four ways that a group of first-year Psychiatric Nursing students keep their stress levels down.

You can discuss stress and all else related to Psychiatric Nursing with the students. They are hosting information booths, April 4 and 5 from 10am – 1pm in the entrance of the 106 street building.

1. Exercise

“I’m a huge advocate of working out.” says Leah, one of the first year students.  “Creating that structure for yourself is huge during exam time, and really any time in your life. It will teach you other techniques like breathing and nutrition.”

But students are busy, and don’t always have the money to pay for workout classes or gym memberships outside of campus. The psychiatric nursing students have a list of quick and effective exercises that anyone can try at home, including:

  • Pushups
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Crunches
  • Wall sits
  • Mountain Climbers
  • V-Sits

For Stacie, another first-year student, variety the best way to stick to a workout routine. “It’s important to mix it up and keep it interesting,” she explains. “Do something that you love, whether it’s taking your dog for a walk, or getting out in the sun. Whatever you can fit into your day that interests you.”

MacEwan University students also receive a gym membership to the Sports and Wellness facility. Swing by for a quick workout between classes, get your blood pumping and work through your stress.

2. Eat well

It’s tempting to neglect a good diet in favour of quick, unhealthy food — especially during exams. But a good diet is essential to keeping stress down.

“Important to maintain adequate nutrition, and to drink lots of water” says Stacie, “otherwise how can we function on a daily basis?”

But how can you eat well on a budget? Try cooking at home instead of eating out. “It’s much cheaper to buy your own food, fruits and vegetables, and eat it at home,” explains Stacie.

Her advice? Shop around the outer ring of your grocery store, which helps you avoid the processed food often found in the aisles.

3. Misery loves company

It is easy to believe that you are the only person in your class who can’t handle the stress and anxiety of exams. Spending time with your peers can help you deal with your stress, and helps you realize that you are far from alone.

“A good support group is important,” Samantha emphasizes, “I get really bad anxiety during exams. You have to have a good foundation and support group to get through.”

For Michelle, the chance to laugh, with her peers or even alone, is an excellent way to debrief during stressful times.

“If you go home after an exam, and watch a funny movie, or hang out in a group and laugh about things, it will make you feel better.

4. Avoid risky behavior

Many people resort to risky behaviors, like binge drinking or study drugs, over healthy outlets for stress. These behaviors can lead to health issues, and often fail to resolve stressful situations.

“These behaviors can arise because of stress,” explains Michael, a first-year student.  “We’re all university students: binge drinking is a big problem. More than half the population distresses by drinking. It’s a bad habit. Binge drinking can cause missed classes. Relationship problems. It’s something we shouldn’t do.”

Recreational and study drugs are can have long-term adverse effects. “There’s a lot of people who think recreational drug use is fine. But there is a connection between recreational drug use and mental illness,” says Stacie. “A lot of people think they’re blowing off steam, but have no idea what effect it can have.”