A diamond is a piece of coal put under pressure! Those out there preparing for exams are like that piece of coal waiting to shine like the diamond you deserve to be. So here are a few thoughts, concepts, ideas and tools for those preparing for any type of examinations.
When I first heard the definition for stress it blew me away, when I first heard the definition of stress my stress just went out of the window, when I first heard the definition of stress I started looking at challenges in a totally different way.
Ready! Here we go! Stress is the negative interpretation of pressure! Yes that’s it. Short, sweet and simple. Everyone has pressure. The journey from life to death is filled with pressure. If we look at that pressure negatively and start whining about it, it becomes stress.
Those who have become successful in life know that pressure is good for them. Pressure helps us to stretch ourselves, pressure helps us to expand our capacity, and pressure helps us to value ourselves more. Successful persons look at over-load of work as a result of them being over-demanded. Successful persons consider that they are blessed with responsibility rather than being stressed, successful persons consider that their capacity is being developed rather than pressurised.
While the definition of stress alone can help you convert stress into success, let me share some simple tools that can help in examination success.
Let me first recommend two questions that we need to ask ourselves when we are under a potentially stressful situation. Question 1: How do I take good care of myself right now? Question 2: can I change the situation? if not can I change my attitude?
Let’s take a scenario where we need to go through a lot of text books, past papers and notes. We need to help our mum with some household chores. We need to attend sports practices. We need to help out a friend going through an emotional challenge. We have limited time to get all these done in a single day.
Let’s try to answer question no 1: How do I take good care of myself right now? The answers would be; we need to take care of ourselves, we need to preserve our energy and we need to be calm.
Now let’s try to answer to part 1 of question 2: Can I change the situation? We need to see how best we can make progress and add value to everyone who is demanding our time and attention. See if we can change the situation by giving a quick phone call to our friend and see if we can cheer her up on the phone rather than having to meet up with her. See if we can convince our brother to help out our mum with the household chores. If some of these can be done then we have a lesser load to deal with.
And finally let’s try to answer part 2 of question 2: if not can I change my attitude? Assume we could not convince our friend to deal with the issue over the phone and that we could not convince our brother to help our mum with the household chores.
Changing our attitude becomes easy when we start with ‘attitude of gratitude’. When we ask ourselves who and what can we be grateful for, there will be lots of answers that pop up from our brain.
We can be grateful for the fact that we had a good education that has resulted in us doing the exam, grateful for the fact we got a loving family around us, grateful for the fact that we have the energy and talent to take part in a sport that will help build our personality and confidence and grateful for the fact we got friends in need who will be there when we need them.
Oozing with energy after going through the ‘attitude of gratitude’ process we need to see how we can now change our attitude. Perhaps we may first decide to give everyone who need us at least a little of our time. We can start doing some of the chores and then mention to our mum that we are quite over-demanded at the moment and ask if some of it can be dome the next day. We may call up our friend again and agree to meet up the next day, explaining how over-demanded we are. We may then have time to attend to sports practice and if we do it with the mind-set that a healthy mind is supported by a healthy body, that it will helps us build up our stamina and that it will helps us give our brain some re-charging from the energy it has taken away due to studies, then sports practices become an integral part of our examination preparation.
The satisfaction we achieve by this process will make our study session much more effective and enjoyable, even if the time was reduced from what we had planned to allocate.
In addition to the above, laugh a lot as laughter is a great energizer and healer. Watch a comedy, read a joke and enjoy a light hearted moment with a friend. If we don’t have sports practices, do some physical exercises, it helps sweat out toxins that cause stress, improve our blood circulation and lung activity. Take 6 to 8 hours of good sleep every night and have some light peaceful mental activity such as listening to soft music, meditation, reading a heart-warming story before going to sleep as this will ensure a very restful sleep to prepare us for an energetic next day.
It is important to rest before we get tired as re-starting after total exhaustion takes more energy. Rest the brain by changing the mental activity every 30 – 40 mts. Switch from a left brain [logical, mathematical subjects] to right brain [creative subjects] every 30 – 40 mts if practical. Take short aerobic breaks every 1 hour. Schedule studies in this manner and this will help get much more out of the limited study time we have.
Have a balanced meal. As the brain uses up our sugar reserves at night, have a sugar rich meal [fruits etc.] for breakfast. As the body uses up the energy as we start becoming active, have a protein rich meal for lunch and as we need to bring down our metabolism for a good nights sleep, have a carbohydrate rich meal for dinner. Drink loads of water all the time as it helps cleanse our system, specially the brain that is been over-used during examination preparation. Ensure there is good intake of vitamins with each meal.
The suggestions I have made in this article have helped me in my examination success when I had applied them and I recommended this steps wholeheartedly. Remember we are far more potentiality than actuality. Remember there is no gain without pain. Remember that the harder we work, the luckier we become. The acronym LUCK stands for Labouring Under Correct Knowledge!
When we go through the discomfort during this process we must learn to enjoy and savour the discomfort knowing that we are growing, knowing that we are preparing to make a great contribution to our world, knowing that we are miracles happening!