4 ways to relieve stress for exams
BY: Rebecca Lubin
During midterm exams, students stress levels go through the roof. Between balancing school, social life, eating, sleeping, and work, finding time to study can get hectic causing anxiety, panic, and stress. Here are 4 ways to overcome stress during the midterms or any other exam.
Relaxation techniques are a great way to help with stress management, it's a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Some benefits of relaxation include boosting confidence to handle problems, reducing anger and frustration, slowing heart rate, and reducing the activity of stress hormones (Mayo clinic).
Emotional stress that stays for weeks or months can weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and even heart disease. Relaxation techniques involve refocusing your attention on something calming and increasing awareness of your body (ULifeline).
According to the mayo clinic staff, students should try autogenic relaxation. Autogenic means something that comes from within you. In this relaxation technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. You repeat words or suggestions in your mind that may help you relax and reduce muscle tension, for example, imagine a peaceful setting. Focus on controlled relaxed breathing, slowing your heart rate, and/or feeling different physical sensations such as relaxing each arm or leg one by one.
2. Read a book
There’s a saying that goes, “reading is like dreaming with your eyes open.” Simply by opening up a book, you allow yourself to be invited into a literary world that distracts you from your daily stressors. Reading can relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles.
A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. “The best strategy is to set hopes low, I set a goal to read for 15 minutes a day. I find a place I enjoy reading, a nook and often I find myself reading longer than 15 minutes but I'm more lucky to sit down and read,” says Eric Carroll an English teacher at Brien McMahon High School.
Before you start reading remember that the book doesn’t have to be on any bestseller list. Reading only helps reduce your stress level so if you pick something you enjoy that won’t upset you, take notes afterward on how you’re feeling. Find a book, magazine, or newspaper that catches your interest, find a nice, quiet place where you won’t get interrupted, and set aside 15-20 minutes and enjoy!
Having a good laugh can reduce stress whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on tv or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon. Laughter is a great form of stress relief and that’s no joke (Mayo clinic).
Some short-term effects of laughing are that it: activates and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Laughter soothes tension and can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Some long-term effects from laughing are: improving your mood. Many people experience depression but due to chronic illnesses, laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and help you feel happier.
So go ahead and give it a try, turn that frown upside down, and have a laugh! Once you’ve done that think about how you’re feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed? That's the natural wonder of laughing at work.
4. Listen to calming music
Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow quiet classical music. This type of music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones (Psychcentral).
Musical preference varies widely between individuals, so only you can decide what you like and what is suitable for each mood. Even if you don’t usually listen to classical music it may be worth giving it a try when selecting the most calming music.
Scientific studies have attempted to measure the potential benefits of music and found that listening to music on headphones reduces stress and anxiety in hospital patients before and after surgery. Music can relieve depression and increase self-esteem ratings in elderly people. Music therapy significantly reduces emotional distress and boosts the quality of life among adult cancer patients. Music can reduce burnout and improve mood among nursing students. Singing or shouting along can also be a great way to release tension. Calming music before bedtime promotes peace and relaxation and helps to induce sleep.
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