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28 April 2021

Exam season: tips on managing stress and anxiety

With exam season in mind, Shout Volunteer, Seren, shares some tips that help keep her calm in moments of stress.

No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, you won’t be alone in experiencing stress. Stress impacts everyone differently, but there’s no denying that it can be hugely debilitating.

If you’re worried about exams, there are some things you can do to help you feel calm during this time.

How does stress impact people differently?

A class of 30 students could sit the same exam, but it could impact them all differently. Some won’t worry, others may feel anxious about not doing well, and some will feel debilitated by the pressure of the exam. Even though the original stressor is exactly the same, the impact will vary from person to person. This can come down to a wide range of reasons, such as physiology, genes, self-esteem, confidence, or expectations from others.

Unfortunately for me, I’m someone who has a very low stress threshold! Ever since I was little, I’ve been putting enormous pressure on myself which can make me feel stressed. Whether it’s to perform in exams or to please everyone around me, I’ve always struggled with stress. I tend to crumble and break down easily.

However, I’ve had a lot of support over the years, from loved ones, to mental health volunteers and healthcare professionals such as nurses, doctors and counsellors. Through talking to them, I’ve been able to find my own ways of coping with and managing stress.

As a Shout Volunteer, it’s important for my own mental wellbeing to be in a good place in order for me to support others. Below are some of the tips and techniques I use to help manage feelings of stress.


When we aren’t aware of and accepting of what we are feeling, it is harder to connect with those around us and receive support.

Setting boundaries in stressful environments

If I can, the first thing I’ll do when I’m stressed is to try and take a break for a few moments. That could mean popping out into the back garden, making a coffee, or talking to my fiancé. Just taking time to do something else can help me to take a step back and clear my head, as it breaks me away from the stressful stimulant and allows me to reset so I can approach the task with a more focused mind.

Talking about stress

When I’m stressed, talking about the thing I’m stressed about is often the last thing I want to do, but it’s important to name what you’re feeling. When we aren’t aware of and accepting of what we are feeling, it is harder to connect with those around us and receive support. The best thing that’s helped me is to speak to someone who is completely external to the stressful situation. So, if it’s studying that’s stressing you out, try to talk with a friend, family member or partner first. Then, when you’ve gained some calm and clarity, you can address it in the best way possible to those who can help you in a practical sense.

Doing something else

Sometimes, you just need to distract yourself to release tension. Mindfulness can be a fantastic tool for grounding, and it can take different forms. I like either going outside or making a coffee. The act of opening a door and walking through it into an entirely different environment is a catharsis. The smells, sights, sounds, brightness and temperature all change, which means I can focus on something new, even for a few moments. If that’s not on the cards for whatever reason, I’ll make a coffee, as it’s a small and simple process that gives me something nice to enjoy at the end of it.

Reach out for support

Reaching out for support can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that everyone deals with stress on a daily basis, and if you’re experiencing those feelings you deserve support if you need it. We’ve partnered with Student Minds, to provide free, non-judgemental, 24/7 support for all students in the UK. All you have to do is text STUDENT to 85258.

For more support, check out Student Space.