Top 10 Tips for Taking Care of Your Mind During Exam Time

Exam time can be an extremely difficult time for secondary school students, parents, but also teachers!

The next few weeks will be full of emotion - stress, anxiety, and perhaps a sense relief - but it’s really important that a few key steps are taken to take care of your mind.

A regular mindfulness practise can help you manage the pressure while sharpening your mind. As a parent, mindfulness can also bring a sense of calm into the home, which helps in providing ideal studying conditions where students can be present and focussed on the tasks in front of them.

Our in-house psychologists here at Smiling Mind have compiled a list of the top 10 tips for managing exam time, to help students (and parents!) navigate this tricky time.

Get the practical side of things sorted by creating a comfortable study space, setting goals, prioritising tasks, and uni-tasking:

  • Have a nice space to study. First and foremost, make sure your study space is comfortable, quiet, tidy, and well-lit. Keep your desk organised, and keep away from distractions such as a TV, phones, people talking, etc.  
  • Set goals. Set short, mid, and long-term goals to determine exactly what is that you need to achieve and by when. Goal setting can help with motivation by giving you something tangible to work towards. 
  • Write Lists. Write a ‘To Do’ list of the tasks that you need to do, in the order you need to do them, for each goal. Your lists might be for the day, the week, the month, or longer, depending on what you need to complete.
  • Work through one task at a time. Many of us attempt to multi-task in the hope of getting things done more quickly, but multi-tasking is actually an illusion! While we believe we’re doing two things at once, we are in reality switching between two tasks, and in doing so, wasting time and energy to focus and then re-focus our attention.
  • Put Technology Away and Take a 'Brain Break.' Turn off your phone, disable notifications on social media and close down your computer. Give yourself 5 minutes to enjoy something other than simply finishing your study or an exam.

Manage the physical and emotional sides of things by keeping calm, keeping active, and eating and sleeping well:

  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of being where you are in the present moment, observing whatever you happen to be experiencing at that time with an attitude of openness and curiosity and without judging or trying to change your experience. In this way, we are able to step back from difficult emotions such as anxiety or stress rather than get caught up and carried away in them.
  • Meditate. Your mind is absorbing so much information during this busy time. Try a Smiling Mind meditation the night before and the morning of each exam, just 5 minutes will give your brain a break and refresh your mind and can help increase your performance on the day of the exam.
  • Get active. As well as helping your bones and muscles become stronger and building a healthy heart, physical activity plays an important role in developing the brain and supporting essential mental functions. Also, the endorphins that the brain releases during exercise help to improve your mood, energy levels and even sleep!
  • Drink water & eat healthy. To keep your brain functioning at its peak, ensure that you are eating well, and drinking plenty of water.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Ensuring that you are sleeping well can improve your mood, concentration and academic performance. Conversely, lack of sleep can make you feel down or irritable. For teens, the recommended number of hours of sleep per night is 8 to 10 hours. Even during exam time! Try one of the Smiling Mind sleep meditations.
Smiling Mind