Stress Support Wellbeing

Decompressing after exams and deadlines

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After exams and hand-ins, there is a big focus on how to celebrate and it is a time of a lot of highs. You might be finding, however, that you need a pause to process all the stress of this intense period before you can swing into celebration mode. 

If you had a particularly difficult exam period or struggled to meet your deadlines, you might assume that once it’s all over, all the feelings of stress and anxiety will go with them. However, you’ve built up a lot of adrenaline and now that has nowhere to go. The end of this time might feel anti-climactic, not bring the relief you were hoping for or leave you with anxious feelings. If any of these sound like you, read on for some tips on how to decompress after a strenuous time.

What now?

Depending on your year of study there might be a lot of pressure on what you’re doing next. Before making big steps towards future plans, take some time to recognise all the hard work you have done so far. It’s important to acknowledge your achievements and not rush onto the next stage. You might want to give yourself a reward, like taking yourself out for a nice meal or treating yourself to something you’ve been wanting for a while. 

If you’re a PG student, your Summer might look different from other students’. It’s still worth taking some time out before jumping into the next tasks. Come back recharged and refreshed after some well-earned self-care, rest and rewards. 

If you’re feeling flat or like the end of the exams didn’t bring the relief you were expecting, it is especially important to take some time just for yourself. Check in with how you’re feeling, try writing about it in a journal and begin to make sense of where you are at in this moment. Take this time to pause and recuperate before forging on with what’s next. 

Put yourself first

If you’re feeling burnt out or exhausted, it’s really important to have some proper rest. It is crucial that you engage in things that will replenish you, rather than keep pushing yourself to do more. If you’re at risk of burn out, stop and take stock of what things feel good and what feels too strenuous – this might mean saying no to nights out if they don’t feel like what you need or taking a few things off your ‘To-Do’ list that aren’t urgent. 

You might have spent a lot of time alone during the exam/deadline period and by now could be feeling quite isolated. When you feel ready to start spending more time with others again, ensure you’re doing the right kind of socialising for you. You might want to hang out one to one with a friend, rather than in a big group. Whatever it is you need, put yourself first and make sure to ask for it.

Change your surroundings

Now might be a great opportunity to spend some time outside. Likely, while you have been studying, you’ve been spending a lot of time inside at a desk, looking at your computer. Spending time outdoors can be really beneficial for your wellbeing. Being outdoors can make you feel grounded and connected to something other than yourself, it can give you a chance to get out of your head for a while. To be a bit more present and practice simple mindfulness, try to pay attention to your surroundings – notice the things you can see and hear and engage as many senses as possible.

If you’re into yoga, Sporticipate has an excellent one-day yoga retreat on 3 June. The day includes a 10-minute massage, vegetarian/vegan lunch, three yoga sessions and a gong bath to finish. The price for students is £25, as perfect de-stressing treat.

Hopefully this blog has offered some guidance on how to decompress after a busy exam period or meeting deadlines. If you find yourself feeling particularly stressed or anxious and think like you might need more support, there’s some guidance in our Mental Health Awareness Week blog about recognising anxiety and where to get help.

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