Tackling depression during examination weeks

By Alya Nadiah

As students, we face many difficulties mentally and physically during weeks to final exams.

Some psychological factors that lead to depression include feeling no control over the examination, thinking negatively and criticising yourself or being irrational like “if I don’t pass this exam, I won’t get a degree”.

To avoid being depressed, you have to believe in yourself. Believe in whatever you do and don’t worry excessively. Don’t try to be perfect, do your best, but don’t put your hopes too high. Take step by step to overcome your problems, such as talking to your lecturer or tutor. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Don’t get too exhausted, carry out light physical exercise, take healthy diet and have enough sleep. Get yourself into exam mode by examining past years’ questions and ask your lecturer for advice.

Feeling stress during studying is often felt by students especially during the final examination weeks. If you are feeling stressed or depressed at the thought of the amount of workload you have during this final weeks, firstly know that it is always a good idea to communicate about it with people around you as expressing your worries and emotions helps reduce the amount of stress. This will make you discover that your situation is not as bad as it seems.

Secondly, depression may also be caused by exam anxiety where students fear excessively about being evaluated and worry about exam consequences. As for me, to cope with this kind of stress, I have one technique to follow to prevent depression. This has also helped me to maintain my grades:

  1. Choose one subject to work on.
  2. Set a timer, study for 25 minutes and give your full attention to the subject you are working on, which means no cell phone or other distractions.
  3. After 25 minutes, take a 10 to 15 minutes break.
  4. When 15 minutes is up, continue to study, again give 100% attention.

However, in this case you have to be consistent. If you promised yourself for a 15-minute break, do not exceed the time. Here, I should emphasise that taking a break is vital in studying for your finals to avoid feeling depressed. Use the break-time to entertain yourself by watching funny videos on YouTube, listening to songs, watching television, or taking fresh air outside your house or room.

Next, remember that sleeping is important to regain energy. Sleeping is a way for your body and brain to recharge. People who get inadequate sleep do things worse in their tasks. Know that getting enough sleep helps you to work better. Do not stay up all night studying for the next day’s exam paper because whatever you are trying to cram in your brain is going to cause fatigue to your body.

Similarly, your body needs recharging and food is where you get the energy. Although you think it is necessary to skip breakfast, lunch or dinner for the sake of examination, you are not doing things right. Instead, you are causing more problem to your body. Without food will mean lacking in protein and carbohydrates needed to maintain your internal health.

Other than that, I must emphasise another way that has worked for me in studying during finals and to prevent depression, which is to reward yourself every time you did something worth. Rewarding yourself does not always mean giving yourself a gift for every chapter you have covered. Rather, to reward by pampering yourself, say with coffee, or anything that doesn’t distract your attention from studying.

Lastly, do not work excessively thinking that you will do well in your examination. Excessive effort may work for some people, but it may not be good or effective to score. Instead, it will cause you more stress. For me, I study with so much free time because cramming does not work. Avoid doing last minute studying, but try to keep up with your syllabus throughout the semester.

Some tips for the exam. Don’t panic, recite the dua’ before starting to write anything on your paper. It is normal to feel nervous. If your mind goes blank during exam, all you need to do is to take a deep breath, selawat and recite Surah al Ikhlas.

Take a small bottle of water and some sweets with you in the exam hall to help fill up your stomach. Lastly, pace yourself. Don’t rush anything during the exam and regularly check the time and how much time left to complete your answer.

I wish everyone good luck in your final examination! ***

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