Ways to Reduce Stress During Exam Season

Cassi Misciagna, Feature Editor

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During the end of April to the start of May, many of us Bobcats will be preparing for not only final exams, but also an onslaught of standardized tests. Throughout the season, parents and mentors alike will emphasize the importance of studying; however, to achieve success it is also important to manage one’s stress, which can affect both mental and physical well-being of the student.


Here are some effortless ways to manage stress for success during the exam season:   


Exercise. By participating in exercise people can cut down the amount of cortisol and norepinephrine, stress hormones in their body, and replace them with dopamine and serotonin that encourage confidence and self-esteem. In fact, due to these properties, exercise has even been used to treat various anxiety disorders. By participating in daily physical activity, individuals can also lower their blood-pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, along with building their strength and cutting down their chances of getting dementia. However, people don’t have to engage in strenuous exercise to reap the benefits; in fact, breathing exercises and yoga can still have these same stress-relieving benefits.


Meditation. Meditation is probably the first thing people think of for reducing stress; however, it can take many different forms including guided meditation, transcendental meditation, and tai chi. Like exercise, meditation has been found to lower the amount of cortisol and norepinephrine in the body, also being able to physically change a person’s brain chemistry. By thickening the pons, hippocampus, amygdala, posterior cingulate, and temporoparietal junction in the brain, meditation has been found to encourage thoughtfulness and self-awareness. As a result, it has been used to treat those with anxiety related disorders and depression. However, the change has also lead to an increase in patience, focus, and creativity. It has also been found to help treat both mental and physical medical issues such as sleep problems, heart disease, and asthma.  


Creative Expression. Music and art are typically associated with creativity, and while they do help people express themselves, each can act as an anti-stressor, both in participating in or creating the piece and simply appreciating its creation. Both music and art have been found to relieve people of their negative emotions and raise self-confidence and self-esteem due to their ability to cut down the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Furthermore, they alleviate the negative feelings of anxiety and depression, and can activate areas of the brain that aren’t normally active which help improvisation, focus, and coordination. Lastly, you don’t even have to be awake to obtain the benefit of music. Listening to calming music before and during sleep can help individuals have a more relaxing and rejuvenating rest.


Sleep. Getting more sleep before a test is a must when trying get a perfect grade, and is much more beneficial than cramming information all night to reduce stress. For the average teenage brain to function normally, teens need nine hours of sleep as opposed to the recommended seven to eight hours for the average adult. Without at least nine hours, teens might display the visible and common symptoms of sluggishness, lack of concentration, and moodiness; however, lack of sleep can have a much more drastic long-term effect. Repeatedly missing sleep can lead to insomnia by throwing off one’s sleep cycle and perpetuating the issue, while also increasing one’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels in addition to their stress. In addition, a loss of over eighteen hours of sleep has been found to permanently damage the brain through the form of minor mental impairment which has been found to be linked with receiving poor or insufficient grades.


Eating Healthy. Eating a balanced diet may not be the first thing we think of in association with stress; however, a nutritious diet is probably the quickest way to reduce stress, while also increasing brain and body functions. By eating foods rich in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and calcium, along with fruits and vegetables, people can prevent disease and increase their mood, sleep quality, and response time. Also, foods high in carbohydrates and fiber increase energy levels and help in the production of serotonin which also lends itself positive mood. However, excess high-fat foods, caffeine, sugar, and salt in a diet can undo the positive effects of each, once more increasing stress. Furthermore, according to the American Psychological Association, cramming and staying up all night has been found to increase one’s likelihood to eat an unhealthy diet full of high-fat content.
We here at The Bellarion wish all of you luck on all your exams, and hopefully with these simple tricks, diminishing your stress and anxiety for the coming weeks will be an easy feat. However, diminishing stress and stressors in your everyday life doesn’t have to be strictly due to an exam and can be important in promoting health and mental well-being year round.

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Ways to Reduce Stress During Exam Season