Students, it’s been a tough year. First, the schools were shut when the pandemic struck. Then you had to get used to home-based learning and miss your friends at school during the circuit breaker. And with your family working from home, it’s tough to hit the books with all the noise and distractions.
And to top off all the stress of preparing for your exams, you also have to deal with safe management measures for taking your papers.
But kudos, you’ve made it this far and, in case you haven’t noticed, I hope you realise you have a warrior in you. If you are taking a break from your revision to read this, I hope these self-care pointers can help you (and anyone actually, not just students) through this tough time. So keep going!
Stay focused with small steps
Studying for the exams is like running a marathon. You have to pace ytterourself.
Set small and achievable tasks you wish to accomplish each day and focus on finishing them. This is particularly useful if you find yourself procrastinating and lagging behind on your revision.
Know your studying habits. Some people can study for hours on end while others do short intense bursts. Regardless of style, you don’t want to burn out by stressing on how much you’ve covered and run out of stamina before reaching the finishing line.
You may be in the home stretch right now, but the race is still run one step at a time.
Rather than worrying about the mountain of revision you tell yourself you must finish, focus on what you can control by coming up with a daily objective and set your mind to completing it.
Get enough rest
Telling yourself to have sufficient rest is a bit of a no-brainer but remember that rest can come in different forms.
Getting enough sleep and proper food is just as important as exercising your body and engaging in recreational activities to relax the mind. All of these work together to allow you to function at your best.
Be mindful not to neglect these different forms of downtime as they will boost your mood and energy. If you haven’t tried it, why not incorporate it into your daily routine and see the effects for yourself?
Remember that self-love is the greatest medicine!
Friends are for companionship, not comparison
Each of us are unique with our own strengths and weaknesses. Don’t compete with each other, instead, compete with yourself: Are you better today than you were yesterday?
Reach out to someone you can talk to to encourage each other on this exam journey. Too often, we suffer in silence, thinking that everyone else has it altogether while we are falling apart. Sometimes speaking out about the pressure you’re under functions not only as a safety valve to let off steam, but also a safety net to let a friend know that “hey, it’s okay not to be okay”.
Be a good friend to someone who is struggling. Compliment them on what they have done well so far. Remind them of their successes and give perspective to their failures. Your encouragement can help cheer them on for the next battle.
Tough times don’t last but bonds forged in fires do. These memories will help sustain friendships that will last long after the exam papers end.
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Be thankful for the things you do well
Gratitude is a beautiful thing. When you are reminded of what you have to be grateful for, your perspective of life will take a positive turn.
Here’s a simple exercise: Instead of telling yourself that “I have to”, replace it with the phrase “I get to”. So instead of saying “I have to finish studying (that topic) by today”, say “I get to finish studying (that topic). This way, you recognise that whatever happens, you’ve already succeeded in pushing yourself this far.
The brain works this way: The more we celebrate the small victories in life, the more hopeful we become while embracing the challenges that come our way. We don’t fear failure as much when we affirm ourselves of what we are capable of accomplishing.
Stay mindful of your goal
Remember this key truth: Exams do not define you.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that we should not try our best in our exams. After all, we live in a society that still emphasises education and qualifications.
Rather, we should recognise why we are trying so hard to do our best in whatever we do. It is important to take a step back and be clear of why you are doing what you’re doing – why you are striving so hard to attain your goals.
When you do that, you will find a second wind to your revision or whatever stressful period you are going through. Keeping their eyes on the prize is how top runners finish their races: One step at a time.
It may seem painful while you’re going through it. You may think you can never get there. But you will. And when you do, you can look back and see just how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown for it.
Tying your exam mugging journey (which may not be the most enjoyable one) to a greater purpose can help to motivate you and hopefully take some pressure off when you view exams as a stepping stone to your goals.
To all out there who are studying hard this exam season, please practise self-care, have fun and all the best!