how to look after your student mental health during exam season - man sat by traffic
how to look after your student mental health during exam season - man sat by traffic

How To Look After Your Student Mental Health During Exam Season

Prioritising student mental health during exam season.

It’s that time of year again. Stress and anxiety rear their ugly heads and get in the way of your (several) deadlines, exams, and just your life in general.

Whilst a little exam stress can be good for you, too much can lead to other mental health concerns.

If you’re feeling too much of the heat right now, read on to find out how to look after your mental health during exam season. It’ll help you avoid the dreaded academic burnout!

How to look after your student mental health

1. Stressed? Talk it out

When you’re feeling stressed from studying and assignments, it’s important to be vocal about it. Putting words to feelings helps give more perspective, and your friends, tutors, and family might be able to offer the support you need. Or at least a shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough.

If you’re studying at university with different types of neurodiversity, you could find your uni’s support group or set one up yourself to find like-minded students going through the same stress as you.

If you want to talk to people who don’t know you, reach out to one of the below:

2. Make to-do lists

It’s important to list out exactly what you need to do. Without a list, you may spend too much time on one task and neglect the other (or forget about it completely).

It needs to include items alongside your studies, like ensuring you get meals sorted out, taking the bins out, and keeping your space clean. If you’re struggling to keep a list, why not use one of our recommended study planner apps? You can use them to organise everyday tasks too.

Get discounts on stationery with Student Beans.

3. Find a calming playlist

Music makes everything better. We recommend something calm like classical music or lofi beats.

In fact, Florida National University says playing music while studying activates both sides of the brain which can enhance learning and improve your learning. Plus, it keeps things interesting too, and gives your space a relaxed vibe.

4. Set small goals

Breaking down your list into bite-sized chunks makes things way more achievable. Here’s an example of how you can do this:

Revise for maths exam

  1. Monday: 3 modules
  2. Test on 3 modules
  3. Tuesday: review yesterday’s modules
  4. Revise the next 3 modules

Make this more specific to your schedule and break it down even further if you need to.

5. Take regular breaks

Taking regular breaks from work and study keeps you focused, and prevents fatigue and burnout. It’s not effective to study for hours straight and your brain needs rest to keep your creativity and motivation up.

Set regular reminders to have breaks and do nothing. Not having regular breaks could be the reason you’re procrastinating.

6. Think of the reward

Think of the freedom you’ll have after your exams and assignments! It could be a night out in the town with friends, a takeaway, a trip home or anything else you’re looking forward to after exam season ends.

It’s important to think of the outcome to stay motivated, especially if you’re feeling a serious dip right now. Envisioning the end result is enough to stir up some feel-good vibes while you plough away at your studies.

7. Eat healthily

Eating healthy on a budget is absolutely possible as a student, and it’s important too. It can be tempting to live on pizzas, instant noodles, and pasta every day while studying, but these can make you feel more tired due to their low nutritional value.

8. Be as active as you can

Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But did you know it could release a ton of feel-good endorphins? We all know we could do with those during exam season!

Even something as simple as a 5-minute workout video could be all you need. If that’s not your style, then pop some music on and have a dance in your room, it’ll definitely get the heart pumping.

9. Get some sleep

Get real, how often are you getting your forty winks a night? Revision all-nighters are sometimes necessary, but these can have a serious impact on your mental health if you do them too often.

If you feel your focus is better at night, at least get a couple of naps throughout the day to give your mind the rest it needs.

10. Contact your university counsellor

Most universities will have a university counsellor to help with exam stress and other issues students may have. If things are really rough, it’s worth getting in touch with them. They’ll help empower you and give practical ways on managing stress during this busy period.

It’s free too, so you have nothing to lose.

If you’re still feeling stressed, be sure to take a look at our article on the best revision techniques – you might find something that clicks (like creating a mind-map) and that in itself can take the edge off.

When to seek professional help for your student mental health

Feelings of stress, anxiety, and low mood are normal every now and again, especially as a university student facing exam stress and deadlines.

However, too much stress is a bad thing and it’s important to keep an eye on your symptoms, habits, and behaviours to catch yourself slipping further.

Seek professional help if you experience any of the following symptoms for 2 weeks or more:

  • Changes in appetite or unexplained weight gain/loss
  • Problems sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Difficulty getting out of bed due to mood
  • Feelings of irritability, restlessness, or frustration
  • Inability to complete usual tasks/activities
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed things