UC Chaplain Spanky Moore’s advice on stress

Last week I saw this fantastic video on my news feed pop up that I think sums up how many students I talk to feel about the current exam season…

“I’m sooooo stressed out right now!” I feel like I hear those words come out of a UC Students mouth most days – as they feel the squeeze from the pressure to do well in their exams.

But stress isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Afterall, without the gift of stress, when faced with a poisonous snake or a fast moving Lime Scooter… we’d struggle to respond with the urgency required to survive.

You see, when you get stressed, your body thinks it’s being attacked, and automatically goes into a ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a cocktail of hormones and chemicals so you can respond physically. It’s through stress that our body releases stuff like adrenaline into our system, which then helps us to focus our attention on the task at hand, and allows us to respond faster.

But the situation I see many students facing is they’ve allowed themselves to go into an overwhelming state of stress – which might be justified if you were about to fight a T-Rex, but not so much for an exam. You see, when your get really stressed, your blood starts flowing only to the most important muscles in your body, and your brain function slows down, and this can make it really hard to think straight. So, not exactly ideal for study!

Here’s the problem: An appropriate amount of stress is actually a great thing for your study prep and performing well in an exam. But things can get really out of hand when we don’t find a way to “talk back” to our body’s stress system when it starts to overreact, and then we end up  feeling so stressed about our exams that we either want to just run away and hide (flight), or get angry and hit stuff (fight).

So here’s some things I try to do when I get stressed and start to feel it getting the better of me.

Re-assure Yourself: Take some time our to tell your body and your subconscious that you’re not ACTUALLY being faced with any kind of life threatening danger from a ravenous wild animal, and that you don’t have to live in an overblown fear of your upcoming exams. You’ll do your best, and that’s all you can really do.

Re-Centre Yourself: Give yourself permission to take breaks throughout the day where you can “re-centre” yourself. Re-centring is about grounding yourself in the present moment and the things that are deeply important to you. So, if you’re a praying or meditating or deep breathing type, that stuff is all fantastic for this.

Re-Connect Yourself: Book in some time to either re-connect with nature, or to do something that brings you a burst of joy, preferably away from a screen. Taking your shoes off and walking through the grass on the c-block lawn for 15 minutes will do wonders for your exam results… as will hiring a Lime Scooter and going for a brief scenic cruise, or doing a quick yoga session at the Rec Centre.

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