Author – Laura Muth
For the majority of the population, exams provoke a natural level of stress and anxiety. For some however, the exam period can be especially overwhelming if you are also suffering from an eating disorder, or another mental health problem. Fuelled by the anxiety and pressure to perform well, your mental health may end up deteriorating, alongside an increase in eating disorder behaviours as a way to cope. During these periods, balancing your recovery and your revision may seem impossible. However, there are some strategies you can put in place to ease your stress:
Plan a revision timetable
Make sure it is both realistic and flexible. Factor in time slots for breaks and meals.
Practise mindfulness meditation
You may wish to do this before your exam, or as a revision break, but taking the time out to focus on the present moment will ensure you are feeling relaxed and calm.
Get enough sleep
Many students compromise their sleeping hours for revision however, this is actually detrimental to exam performance. Having a good night sleep rejuvenates your mind and can also reduce stress levels. If you struggle with your sleeping pattern, avoid stimulants such as caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
A positive mind can be your most valuable asset in the lead up to an exam. By thinking positively, you will be more confident in your abilities. Try reciting affirmations to yourself, such as ‘I succeed in stressful situations’ or ‘I will pass my exams’ in order to develop a positive mindset.
Don’t forget to take breaks
Studies have suggested that we can only properly concentrate for 45 minutes at one stretch. Therefore, regular breaks will help you stay refreshed. These breaks are also a good opportunity to do something recovery-focused, such as journaling or practicing self-care.
Seek extra support
If you are suffering from a mental health problem and are struggling, it is crucial that you talk to someone, whether it be your therapist, a teacher or a parent. In some cases, you may be entitles to extra time or other useful support during an exam however, this won’t happen unless you reach out.
Critique the critic
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t rememeber every little detail. Eating disorder sufferers are often prone to listening to their frequent inner critic and therefore, it is important to challenge the negative self-talk and treat yourself with kindness and compassion . Remember that your exam performance is not related to your self-worth.
Finally remember that exam results are not the be-all and end-all. There are many employers that look for so much more than just your grades.