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How to Ease Post-Exam Stress

First of all, congratulations to all of you!

You’ve made it, hopefully successfully, through the first exam period of the year! The reward in the form of a partial lockdown is slightly disappointing, but we’ve got this! For now, what matters is that the painful hours of studying and panicking are over, the coffee reservoir of the library is no longer exhausted, and Aletta-Jacobs’ doors of orange hell are closed again. However, when I finished my last exam and handed in all assignments, I was waiting desperately for relief. And I’ve stayed that way for quite a while. Even though there was literally nothing I had to do, I could not relax. My brain just kept singing Rihanna’s “Work” and my body felt the constant need to do something productive. Being stressed about nothing and not being able to let go of all the tension: post-exam stress was hitting hard on me. Talking to my friends, I’ve come to realise that most of us have the same problem. After weeks of stress and a workload that was sufficient for twelve, we all forgot how to sit back. Google couldn’t provide much more advice than “10 minutes of meditation a day wipe your worries away”. As much as I wished I were one, I’m not really the meditation kind of person. As soon as I close my eyes and try to let go of all my thoughts, my brain cells start HIIT training. In case you can relate to that, I will provide you with some unconventional ideas for beating your post-exam stress.

  • Dance it out! That the clubs are closed again caused us all some tears. So how about turning your own home into your personal club? Turn off all lights and turn on your favourite music. The good thing is, unlike in a club, no one sees you. Thus, you can hit the dance floor with no inhibitions. While you are dancing, your body releases more endorphins, a “happy hormone” that will get you over stress and strain. If you don’t like to dance alone, try one of the ACLO courses, such as Zumba, Labooca or African Dance! 
  • Jump it out! Not the dancing kind of person? What about jumping? Similar to dancing, it releases endorphins. Get together with some of your friends and visit the “Jump XL” here in Groningen! Fun is guaranteed, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a child again for a few hours? 
  • Yoga with a kick. I guess I don’t have to explain yoga to any of you. Even though it has been practised for about 2000 years already, it has lately become sort of a modern lifestyle trend. For some of you, it might not really sound like a fun thing to do. But what about adding some beer? Beer-Yoga is the perfect combination of deep relaxation and, well, alcohol. Ask your friends, roommates or whoever you would like, and give it a try. Instructions can be numerously found online, and the mix of yoga and fun will surely ease stress. 
  • Smash a car. Yes, I mean that literally, smash a car. Of course, not any random car on the street, don’t get me wrong. But there are actual services which offer you an old car and the tools to smash it up as much as you’d like. Personally, I’ve tried this before and I can assure you that I’ve never felt more relieved. I couldn’t use my arms for two days, but it was definitely worth it. Letting all your anger out, screaming as loudly as possible, and the physical exhaustion will surely help you to beat your post-exam stress!

 

Lastly, and I don’t mind if I sound like a wannabe psychologist, let me remind you that regardless of the results you will get for your exam, you are doing great. We often tend to define ourselves way too much over academic success. Grades neither determine ourselves nor our worth. They might demonstrate ambition and perseverance, but personal development goes far beyond grades. It is much more important to have a joyful life, to take care of one’s mental health and to appreciate the student experience, than always belonging to the best. It is okay to fail an exam and it is okay to take a step back. But it is not okay to have a burnout in your 20’s. So please take good care and don’t be too hard on yourself.

 

Written by Elli Winetsdorfer-Schau