Talking Mental Heath: Preparation

‘Tis the season of midterms and finals and in past years, perhaps you have procrastinated, pulled all-nighters and, in a frazzled state, consumed a lot of caffeine and panicked.

What can you do instead of panicking and how can you be prepared for your exams this time round?  How can you work at breaking that study cycle? This article will provide you with a couple of tips and tricks which can help you.

Practice better sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene involves adopting a regular sleep routine (going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, even on weekends), limiting the amount of caffeine and other energy drinks consumed in a day (especially before going to bed), and also limiting electronic screen time before bed.

While maintaining proper sleep hygiene is sometimes difficult for a student to do, it is an important aspect of managing anxiety.

With a proper amount of sleep each night, the stressors of the day can be more easily managed and anxiety can be better controlled. Additionally, with the proper amount of sleep, both concentration and retention levels can be improved.

This can, in turn, lead to a decrease in anxiety levels about getting through the material in time and retaining it for the exam.

Manage your breathing
Deep breathing helps to slow your heart rate down from a racing rate to a normal speed. When we are anxious about something, we tend to hold our breath. This increases our heart rate and our sense of panic escalates about a situation.

You can try deep breathing by doing the following: breathe slowly in through your nose, breathing into your abdomen and lungs.

Hold this breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through pursed lips until all of the air has expired from your lungs.

Do this exercise repeatedly until you notice a deescalated heart rate and you feel more relaxed. If you notice an increase in the speed of your heart, you are probably breathing too quickly and hyperventilating. Slow your breathing down!

Control your negative thoughts

Stopping your negative thoughts is an important way to manage exam anxiety. Negative thoughts are the critical messages you tell yourself about yourself, for example, “I can’t do this exam, I am going to fail, I am not smart enough to be at university.”

These negative messages start to make you question your abilities and can make you believe inaccurate and false things about yourself and what you can do.

If you need more support, counselling services can help you manage test anxiety or identify negative self-talk and work with you to change these patterns. Come to the Intake Walk-In any weekday morning.  The sign-up starts at 8:30.  Visit us as or visit

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