man sitting at a dimly lit desk studying

Managing emotions during exam week

Ah, it’s that time of trimester – again. Whether you’re well versed with exams at University, or it’s your first time, the exam period can be a stressful time for any student. Some of our tips below may seem like a given – but when life gets a little hectic – we can often forget the simplest of actions that contribute to a healthy headspace.

Stress is one of those funny things – it can affect you at many times, at any age and at any stage of your journey.

What might exam stress look like?

According to Kidshelpline, signs of stress include:

  • Feeling confused
  • Losing touch with friends
  • Feeling moody
  • Having trouble making decisions
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Lacking motivation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach, or feeling sick
  •  Tense muscles and headaches

So how can you minimise the impact of stress when trying to prepare for exams and assessments?

Get into a routine.

All-nighters might seem like a good idea at the time, especially if you’re balancing other things like work and a family – but they can really impact your mood and energy levels when preparing for exams. It’s pretty hard to concentrate when you’re lacking sleep, not to mention your body-clock feeling out of whack (hence those much-needed 3 pm caffeine hits). Be sure to give yourself at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night and allow time to enjoy other activities like spending time with friends and family.

Eat and drink well.

It’s becoming a well-known scientific fact that your mind and gut are connected. Trying to study on a poor diet of processed food and fast-release carbs will ultimately have you feeling more sluggish and unmotivated. Be sure to drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet to give yourself the energy you need to power through! Some healthy study staples can be found here, or why not spend your study break creating some yummy snacks like the ones here.


It’s important to find the “present” when anxieties arise. Take some time each day (even if it’s 3-5 minutes) to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. By practicing mindfulness, you can re-centre yourself, and decrease your body’s response to stress. We love this 1-minute deep breathing exercise by Head Space here.

Find time to exercise.

We often find ourselves putting the gym off when we have so much to do. Moving your body for as little as half an hour a day can increase your energy, focus, and of course, boost those endorphins! Not to mention it’s a great way to release some stress – boxing anyone?

Set yourself realistic goals.

Be realistic with the tasks you have to do and the time you have to complete them. Accepting and adapting to your situation can help you form an idea of what you need to focus on first and how you might complete it. It’s all about finding that balance!

We understand balance and juggling every day life with study can sometimes be super hard! Remember, you’re never alone at UNE, no matter where you are there is someone at UNE that can support you!

Exam stress is something every student experiences at some point in their academic journey. Reach out to your lecturers if you feel stuck on a topic!

You’re never far from help at UNE. The team at Advocacy and Welfare offers confidential support to students! Contact them here.
Student Success also has confidential counselling for students, you can find them here.
Lifeline is also a 24/7 hotline and you can call them on 13 11 14