Mental Health During Exam Season: What Can You Do To Improve It?

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It’s exam season again. All you want to do is go home, relax and think about all the food you’re going to eat, but you can’t, all thanks to those pesky exams. During exam time, most of our focus is spent on studying and getting a good grade, meaning that our mental health often declines. We spend long ours in the library or our rooms, studying until it feels like our brain is going to explode. Some people decide to leave all the studying until the night before an exam, resulting in hours of cramming, and stressing yourself out with a pile of information you realise you don’t know. Even if you’ve been preparing since November, there’s still that thought: ‘what if they ask something I’m not 100% sure of?’

“Take breaks regularly, at the end of the day it’s only an exam.”

There are certain things that you can do to ensure you know your stuff and that you’re not stressed on exam day. UCDSU Welfare Officer, Eoghan MacDomhnaill, advises: “Take breaks regularly, at the end of the day it’s only an exam. It’s not going to be the end of the world and also remember you have a certain percentage more than likely going into it, and the best thing to do is to work out how much you actually need.”

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Taking breaks is essential to allow your brain to ‘reboot’ before bombarding it with more information. A 15-20 minute break is recommended for every hour of study that you do. Going outside and getting some fresh air will help you regain energy. Doing some exercise will cause your brain to release happy hormones, like serotonin, and these help you de-stress and build resilience in the face of a challenge.

A 15-20 minute break is recommended for every hour of study that you do.

Make sure that you also get enough sleep the night before the exam, so you’re not falling asleep on your paper. If you are feeling particularly stressed right before the exam is about to start, the SU has stands in exam halls which are “always manned by at least one sabbatical officer.” “We help students out if they have any queries, or if they’re stressed we’ll bring them over to the nurse if they need to or to the quiet room or the study room if needs be.” So, if you feel the need to talk to someone, don’t be shy, go and talk to the sabbatical officers, they’ll be more than happy to help.

 The UCD website also offers some exam tips:
1. Check your exam timetable and note the date, time and location of your exam.
2. Don’t forget your UCD Student Card (UCARD).
3. If you’re worried talk to someone, e.g. your student adviser, programme officer, module coordinator or someone from the SU.
4. Arrive 15 minutes before your exam to give you time to locate your assigned seat.
5. Read your paper carefully.

Most importantly, a grade is only for a year, your mental health is forever.

Mental health is very important, especially during exams as people can put a lot of pressure on themselves to excel. If mental health is not taken care of properly, it can lead to anxiety, depression, self-harm, and, in some cases, suicide. There has been a 40% increase in demand for counselling over the last 10 years in Irish universities and colleges. Many provide counselling to students to ensure that they receive the help they need. As mental health is losing its status as a taboo topic, more and more people are speaking up about their experiences, which encourages others to seek help and get diagnosed.

If you are feeling down and want to talk to a professional, UCD offers counselling to its students. Remember, you are not alone. Students can talk to the SU Welfare Officer, Student Advisers, or approach the UCD counselling service.

Most importantly, a grade is only for a year, your mental health is forever.

 

 

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