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22nd September 2022

Agony Aunt Angela: Examining your stress

Exam stress can be all-consuming at times, but how do you stay productive without becoming a shell of yourself?
Agony Aunt Angela: Examining your stress
Photo: @The Mancunion

Every time exam season rolls around, I always get incredibly stressed. The thing is, my stress doesn’t manifest in the exams themselves, but in other things. It can either be over relationships (like intense loneliness), food, or just overthinking things generally. I’ll obsess over everything and anything but the exams themselves.

The main problem with all of this is that I don’t have any ‘tools’ to tackle this. I’d usually talk to my family, but being 200 miles away from them, it can be lonely even when I am talking to them. 

How do I find ways to cope with my anxiety around exam season, or even find ways to open up to people?”

Exam season takes its toll on people in various ways, and reaching out can be hard when you feel swamped. It’s really not easy, and there’s no quick overnight fix. But there are ways of slowly chipping away at the anxiety whilst still getting deadlines done.

Firstly, take care of the basics. Cater day-to-day routine to things you enjoy and that keep you busy. Have smoothies and fruit with each meal, and try to cook up something nice for dinner. Microwave meals are meh on a good day. Tuna pasta bake, aioli chicken, huge burritos, and stew gives you the energy to face the next day and the filling comfort of home-cooked food. It can be nice to spend an hour concentrating on your cooking skills rather than revising over a stale pot noodle. 

Once the clock hits nine, that’s your time to spend as you wish in the evening. Take a longggggg hot shower, catch up on some tv, FaceTime your family – whatever helps you feel at ease before bed, do it. But, try and avoid staring at a screen. If you’re prepping for deadlines, the likelihood is you spend most of the day scrolling and typing. By doing that before bed, you’re still in work mode mentally. 

After you cover the basics, look into mitigating circumstances. Even if you don’t need it right now, it’s a lot better to have it as a safety net than something you’re desperately waiting on. I’ve had too many occasions where I’ve submitted for M.C. the night before my deadline and obviously not got it in time. Plan ahead and be honest with yourself. Even if there’s only a small chance you might need it, it can only be worth it.

Finally, look into counselling. This can be general counselling from the university, group sessions, one-on-one therapy – there are loads of options. Sometimes it may not click straight away, and that’s fine. Sometimes we don’t always click with the counsellor or even the method, it might just mean something needs to be switched up. 

Overall, allow yourself to feel stressed. Don’t pent up emotions for the sake of trying to be productive. Let yourself cry or feel like shit. But, make sure you’re not doing it alone. Everyone needs someone to fall back on. Partners are usually the go-to, but if they’re no longer there, what do you do? Keep talking to people and slowly let the weight fall off your shoulders.  


Aunt Angela x

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