I’m just going to state the obvious. I have an undeniable hatred for exams. Every year I am flabbergasted by the ability of a booklet of dead trees to have me shaking in my figurative boots. After years of exam after exam, one would think I’d learn to not stress out so much. One would be quite silly to assume such a thing. One has clearly never taken an exam before.
Every year I do the same thing. I arrive 20 minutes early, I sit among the terrified, and together we psych each other out for the communal goal of convincing ourselves that we’re ready. And when it’s time, we rise like a band of zombies to face the piece of terror—I mean paper—lying on our unfriendly desks. Just waiting.
This happens every year. So, in an active attempt to procrastinate, I’ve compiled a short list of ways to be less stressed than you were last year. And when you finish reading, dear reader, take my words to heart, and remember to take a break when you’re studying. Here are some great ways to calm down in the midst of madness.
Walk it off
I once hated nature. So in my first year, when my friend suggested it’d be a great idea to take a walk on this amazing path he’d just discovered, every bone in my body screamed, “No, absolutely not! I like the indoors and I plan on staying here till I drop dead!” He looked at me with the excited brown eyes of a child on Christmas morning and the word “Absolutely” poured out of my mouth like Pepsi out of a shaken Pepsi bottle. Off we went.
Even when we arrived at the path that leads to the dean’s house, I thought, “No. This looks creepy. Don’t go on the path. You saw that movie that one time. Don’t be that girl!” And I kept walking.
There is something about being in the quiet space in the woods that just wipes away stress. Amazing paths and forests surround our campus. Take a walk among the trees. (And if you’re brave enough, try leaving your cell phone at home. The distraction will only keep you tense.)
Read a book
As an English major, I might just be feeding my own stereotype, but I love books. Books allow you to delve into a different world, far away from next week’s fine art history exam. You might argue that TV shows do the same thing, but I’d like to point out that TV does all the imagining for you, whereas books give you a much bigger role in creating the fictional world.
Books are also great distractions because they help get school off your mind for a little while but don’t have to hold you in their deadly grip for far too long, like YouTube inevitably does. The number of pages never changes, unlike the YouTube break that was supposed to last for 20 minutes and somehow turned into five hours of Community outtakes and Rihanna covers.
Besides, it’s just easier to transition from a good book into a boring textbook.
Sometimes, the best breaks are the ones where you ridicule and complain about the work you’re doing, and dream of the day you’ll never have to remember your Turnitin password again. Rant to a friend. Rant to your mother. Rant to yourself, if you really want. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
In all seriousness, though, if you have the kind of relationship with a friend or family member where you can rant about how much everything sucks without them getting annoyed, you’re allowed make use of it when you really need it. (Preferably, this person is someone who has figured out the art of agreeing with you instead of telling you why you’re wrong.)
Hear me out. I realize that some people believe Facebook, Twitter, and Tumbler are terrible when studying. And that seems logical. Except that if there’s anything I’ve learned from my three-hour night classes, it’s that sometimes staring at a screen of nothing but useful information can be incredibly overwhelming. Sometimes, just for a few minutes, change the screen, read a few tweets, and take a minute and pretend to care about the girl with the overgeneralized status about how her life sucks. But save the kitten videos for later.
In my experience, it’s okay to give your eyes and mind a break. That being said, I have an essay to write. So, from one overstressed student to another: keep calm, study, take a break, and then get back to work, okay?