10 Research Ways To Deal With Exam Stress

10 Research-Backed Ways to Manage Exam Stress in South Africa


Exam stress is a common experience among students in South Africa, with studies indicating that over 80% of students report experiencing significant levels of stress during exam periods. This stress can have a detrimental impact on students’ mental and physical health, as well as their academic performance. Fortunately, there are a number of research-backed strategies that students can employ to effectively manage exam stress.

1. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity has been shown to be an effective way to reduce stress levels. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It can also help to improve sleep quality, which is essential for managing stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to feel stressed and anxious. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible, even on weekends.

3. Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet can help to improve your overall health and well-being, which can make you more resilient to stress. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive caffeine. Instead, focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

4. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can help to calm your mind and body. There are many different relaxation techniques to choose from, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. Find a technique that works for you and practice it regularly.

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5. Talk to Someone

Talking to someone about your stress can help you to feel better. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor. Talking about your stress can help you to process your emotions and develop coping mechanisms.

6. Set Realistic Goals

Setting unrealistic goals can lead to stress and disappointment. Instead, set realistic goals that you can achieve with effort. Break down large goals into smaller, more manageable steps.

7. Take Breaks

It’s important to take breaks throughout the day, especially when you’re feeling stressed. Get up and move around, or take a few minutes to relax and clear your head. Taking breaks can help you to stay focused and avoid burnout.

8. Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself for your efforts can help you to stay motivated and reduce stress. When you achieve a goal, no matter how small, take some time to celebrate your success. This will help you to stay positive and focused.

9. Seek Professional Help

If you’re struggling to manage your exam stress on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you to develop coping mechanisms and strategies for managing stress.

10. Remember That You’re Not Alone

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in experiencing exam stress. Many students feel stressed during exam periods. Talk to your friends and classmates about how you’re feeling. You may be surprised to find that they’re feeling the same way.


Exam stress is a common experience, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. By following these research-backed strategies, you can effectively manage your exam stress and improve your academic performance. Remember, you’re not alone in this. With the right strategies, you can overcome exam stress and achieve your academic goals.