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Dealing with Examination Uncertainty, Pandemic and Career Stress

The ever-evolving situation due to the pandemic has led to a lot of uncertainty. Around this time of the year, the students were usually buckling up for the examination season. There is a constant struggle to cope and adapt to virtual classrooms and online classes. The infrequent and abrupt changes in the examination timetable have added to the pressure and stress for the already struggling students. 

Stress can impact grades as well as one’s physical and mental health. Stress has proven to impact sleep patterns, cause fatigue, appetite loss and mental confusion accompanied by anxious thoughts and bodily reactions (sweaty palms, nausea, increased palpitation). Uncertainty through this pandemic is inevitable. However, students can follow certain self-care tips and activities to help them deal with stress in a rather productive manner.  

Talk to your trusted friends and family. Let them know you require support.

As we struggle with a situation unique to anyone’s experience, turning to one’s trusted friend and family can help them know that you might require support. These people can act as your safety net/ safe space which can help you stay motivated and assured that there is constant support and motivation. 

As we all struggle with this pandemic, you can try and have a buddy in the form of a family member or a friend. But, ask the person if they are willing and have the capacity to be your buddy. By doing so you can both be accountable and have frequent checks on each other.  

Seek support from tutors or any other educator

Being realistic and seeking help from one’s tutors or college professors can help you feel assured and relaxed. You can plan and virtually meet them or discuss issues over emails or whichever medium of communication is viable. They would be aware that students might be struggling, and they can redirect you to services and help your institution might offer.

Teachers can moderate groups on whatsapp or any permitted media platform to offer help, not just academics but also arrange fun activities (pictionary, online board games) for students at intervals to keep everyone connected.

Set a schedule and follow it, ritualistically. 

Irrespective of what announcements follow or changes in timetables occur, following a schedule with a dedicated time for your study goals and break for a fun activity should be ritualistically followed. This will help you to keep calm and stay focused, irrespective of abrupt changes that may occur.

Take a break when a break is due to avoid digital fatigue.

Research indicates that purposeful study breaks (5–60 minutes) help to refresh your brain and body. It increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus. There are a number of activities one could indulge in, but always be mindful of not going overboard. There are limited activities one can opt for due to lockdown restrictions, but finding creative ways away to counter digital fatigue (fatigue due to constant screen time).

Get yourself an adult colouring book (mandala or any other patterns) , or a puzzle or card activity with your family, read a book or comic, cook yourself a meal or simply take a relaxing bath. 

 Use technology to beat technology

As we are under lockdowns and restrictions, and virtually bound, you can use various applications and settings in your devices to keep you on track. Many applications and most mobile devices come with snooze buttons to keep your screen time within set limits.

Laughter is the best medicine

Laughter even improves breathing, stimulates the lungs and other organs through the airflow leading to the release of the feel-good hormones. Neuropsychologists promote the beneficial impacts of laughter. A good laugh has been said to be the best relaxation technique. 

Watching or even anticipating a funny clip or video activates the stress response and then deactivates it, creating a kind of “roller coaster” that leads to a feeling of relaxation. Therefore, go ahead and watch that funny viral video and tickle your funny bones to activate your happy hormones and return rejuvenated. 

 Start or join a support/study group

Research has shown that those who have close friendships during their teen years have better grades and academic support. So using friendship and peer support to promote each other's goal can be an enriching experience.

Trying to discuss issues or being accountable for each other’s schedule can help to build morale and support. It can promote a sense of motivation and social connection, even in times of isolation.


 Remind yourself of your achievements 

Finally, there is an important need to keep reminding oneself of all the little and big achievements. We are all impacted by the pandemic and it isn’t your individual failure or loss, view this time to build perseverance by striving to be positive and keep working towards your goals. 

When you wake up in the morning, make a to-do list. Put a checkmark after every activity or at the end of the day. Applaud yourself for getting through the day. On days where you really feel like nothing is work, take a piece of paper and write your achievements, no matter how small (fed a stray cat) or big (won an accolade). These reminders will help you keep motivated.

The pandemic has led to a lot of upheavals, but there are little efforts and basic activities we can do to keep our calm. Doing different activities every day and keeping them fun can go a long way to keep you away from burn out due to the examination preparation. Always remember we are all going through this, you're not alone. Keep the trust, do your bit and keep it positive!