How to Deal With Exam Stress?

How to Deal With Exam Stress

Dear Dr. Sadaqat Ali,

Great toil and constant motivation… the problem that I am facing during exams is pressure and stress, that has continuously affected my academics and due to stress I am unable to focus on my studies. Whenever I open my books to study I feel like I can’t go through my studies and eventually I have been ending up with below par results than what  my teachers and my parents have been expecting from me…. I really need help as I want to be an accomplished doctor like you that requires utmost dedication and effort. Sir, please rescue me from this problem.

Dear Student,

You have made me recall my golden days of pre medical education that I can very much relate to the situation where our teachers and parents expect a lot from us and we taking good grades make them happy. 

Pre-examination Stress is a common condition faced by students prior to exams and is quite predominant among medical students. A little bit of stress can be a good thing as it motivates us to knuckle down and work hard. But exams can make stress levels get out of hand, which often bars us from giving our best in the examination. So it’s important to address it and get it back under control. Everyone gets stressed during exams but it’s important not to let it get out of control.

If you have noticed any three or more stress symptoms like difficulty getting to sleep or difficulty waking up in the morning, constant tiredness, forgetfulness, unexplained aches and pains, poor appetite, loss of interest in activities, increased anxiety and irritability, increased heart rate, migraines/headaches, Blurred vision and dizziness and you have experienced them for a week you need to learn the skills to manage your stress levels.

Following steps can be very helpful in managing the stress levels.

  1. Learn to recognize your triggers. We all experience stress for different reasons. Situation that makes a person run for the hills may be a minor inconvenience or even an invigorating challenge to another. The first step in conquering your personal stressors is to identify them.
  2. Avoid comparing yourself to others. We all have a unique set of capabilities and qualities. We cannot compare ourselves to other human beings. In order to evaluate our progress we can compare ourselves with our past performance only. 
  3. Eat right. Treat yourself like a well honed machine – eat a balanced food that must contain proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables and always have a proper breakfast. Avoid too much coffee and tea. Fuel your brain as well as your body. 
  4. Sleep well. Wind down before bed and don’t revise under the duvet – your bed is a sanctuary, not a desk. Get your eight hours sleep daily and avoid stimulants like energy drinks that keeps you up while your body needs to take rest. 
  5. Exercise. Nothing de-stresses the mind faster than physical activity, so build it into your timetable. Walk for at least 35 minutes every day. If it’s not possible in a go. Divide into different parts but don’t over stress your body. 
  6. Avoid unhealthy ways to manage stress. Cigarettes, Drugs and alcohol gives temporary relief by making us feel good but they cannot manage the stresses. They have never stopped anyone being stressed for very long. 

You must remember that even securing admission in a good medical institution is an uphill task that you have accompanied. It is time for you to move on keeping in mind the good work you have done to achieve this feat.  I hope this would help you in managing your stress.


Dr Sadaqat Ali