5 tips to Beat Exam and Work Stress
How many people tell you to work hard but at the same time to relax while you are studying for exams, or working on a project at your job?
They mean well, but sometimes this advice is not necessarily constructive, which is why we at Athena Tuition have gathered five key tips to combat stress and anxiety, and maintain task management during work and study, to give you some basic but useful techniques to help manage your workload and keep your head afloat during periods of stress.
This method, developed by Francesco Cirillo, is a simple and effective way to help you get the most out of your work. The basis of it is working hard and ignoring any distractions for around 20-25 minutes, followed by a short break of a few minutes to take your mind off the work, get some food or water, and the like. After that, work for another 20-25 minutes and repeat the cycle. Some suggest taking a longer break after a couple of these cycles, others can keep going for longer.
It doesn’t take much searching to find that there are debates over the how long you should work for before taking a quick break, however Cornish and Dukette in The Essential 20: Twenty Components of an Excellent Health Care Team state that sustained attention generally can’t last longer than 20 minutes, so sticking to blocks of that amount of time with the Pomodoro technique might be the most efficient way to stay on task and get the most out of your work.
Simple Relaxation Tasks
If Pomodoro wasn’t enough to reduce your stress, then some relaxation tasks should help. Martha Davis and Matthew McKay have a huge amount of ideas to try in The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, but there is one simple task that stands out:
Deep breathing – Breath with your abdomen expanding rather than your chest, you can try it during work or use your few minutes’ break during a Pomodoro cycle to slow and deepen your breathing to calm yourself. It helps you focus better and deal with more complex tasks, something we at Athena Tuition really look for in an employee; it’s an understated quality that maximises how well you work while minimising your stress.
List of all your to-dos
This seems obvious, but it’s another technique that people tend to overlook. Whether it’s work tasks, topics you should study, deadlines, or even housework when you’re at home, note and plan what you need to do so you don’t have to keep a mental planner at the same time as working hard. Reduce stress by reducing how much you need to think about at one time.
List your worries
This is like our previous point, though it deals more with what’s troubling you. List in some detail what you’re conscious of in that moment, whether it be related to work, study, or anything else. AnxietyBC’s advice on writing a ‘worry script’ (https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/WorryScript.pdf) is very useful, and states that noting what you’re worried about helps make a clear picture of that fear, giving an opportunity to take in the worry and weigh up the realistic effect of it. Even taking a small amount of time out of your day to do this gives your mind less to think about, which means you work more worry-free and more effectively.
Keep your goal in sight
Finally, keeping the goal of what you’re doing in your mind (or noted down, as part of the two previous techniques!) can be beneficial; it allows you see what you’re doing and plan effectively to take gradual steps towards that end goal. This means you can work efficiently with less stress, and you can combine it with the Pomodoro technique to use those blocks of time to complete different tasks. It helps you stay ahead so you can manage the work, and not having the work manage you.