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So, your exams are over (or coming to an end) – well done!

Wednesday 29 June 2016

At this time of year, some people are still having to work hard revising for exams, others are in the middle of theirs or have resits looming and some lucky students have finished altogether! Accepting that everyone is going to finish at some point, here are some tips for winding down post exams.

Immediately after an exam:

1. Talking with other students about the content of the exam and how you found it can be a bit of mixed blessing. Sometimes someone else will have struggled with something you found difficult too, which can feel reassuring. Other times it feels like everyone else thought it was fine and only you found it tough or maybe you found it pretty straightforward whilst other people were baffled and this can make you doubt your understanding of the questions. Just be aware that people work, learn and understand in different ways and try not to get swept up in the feverish debate immediately leaving the exam, especially if you know it’ll stress you out! Remind yourself that you’ve finished it now and there is nothing you can do to control what happens after this point, so you may as well try to relax! If you know talking about it afterwards will stress you out, try and take yourself away from others who find it helpful to go through it blow by blow.

2. If you’ve been studying in a specific spot in your room, you can now tidy it up. No more piles of books, post its, revision schedules, etc. Take a before and after snap to remind yourself you’ve survived this stressful period! Tidying may seem like a trivial matter but most of us do genuinely feel better in a calm and clear environment.

3. If you’ve been stuck indoors revising a lot, this could be a great time to go for a walk and notice what’s going on around you in nature and the world. Mile End has some great outdoor spots to explore: a walk to Victoria Park along the canal, explore the Green Bridge and the Ecopark or check out Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park – they’re all on our doorstep, and you can check them out via the links below:

4.  Who do you miss?
Very often when people start revising, they reduce their social activities. Sometimes this can go too far and leave you feeling isolated. Whatever your experience has been, socialising can help us unwind. Spending time with friends and family reminds us there is more to life than exams and studying. Relationships are a great way to check in with the bigger picture of our own and others’ lives. If there are particular friends or family members you haven’t seen much of, now’s the time to drop them a line or give them a call. We usually feel relieved when we finally get round to things we’ve been putting off, but also chatting to people who care about us helps us to feel connected to others which reduces stress. Plus being a good friend/ family member feels good.

5.  You deserve a treat!
Is there a fun book you’ve been meaning to read, a computer game you’ve wanted to play, a film at the cinema or on DVD? Do you enjoy magazines? Baking? Galleries and museums? Now that studying is over, you can allow yourself the down time you need to unwind and have some relaxing and indulgent treats.

6. Play sport or exercise
Being physically active is a great way to wind down and relax after your exams. Experts say that exercising is a great way to relieve stress and boost positivity, since during physical activity ‘happy hormones’ or endorphins are released in the brain. Getting hot and sweaty and out of breath can also help release tension and give you a renewed sense of energy. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be hardcore – even things like yoga, walking, swimming or stretching/breathing can help.

7. Try something new
Studying for a whole year can take its toll. If you haven’t had a chance to change up your routines or discover new interests for quite a while, now could be a great time to get started. Forget your exams and start something new – get involved in a new sport, pick up a new hobby, see some live music or a show or do something that you’ve never done before. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it helps you wind down.

8. Take the pressure off
De-stressing can become difficult after the exam period if you’re constantly worrying about your results. It’s important to try to manage any such anxieties and reminding yourself that regardless of outcome there is nothing more you can do at this point is important. Now is a time when distracting yourself from such worries can actually be a helpful technique. In addition to engaging in the above activities, hold on to the fact that whether your results are what you hoped for or not, there will be ways to resolve things and move forward.

9. Get out of town
A change of scene can be a wonderful way to relax and unwind. Now that exams are over, make an effort to get out of town and go on a daytrip, weekend away or even a holiday.  Even on a tight budget, now can be a great time to visit friends in other parts of the country. Know anyone who went to college in a different town? Invite yourself for a visit!

10. Kick-start your job search
Were these your last exams EVER? Hurrah! But if you’re the type that loves to keep pushing forward, starting your job search may be a perfect way to both wind down and ramp up. Job searching can give you a clearer idea of what’s going on in your industry’s job market and it can also give you a boost of energy for your upcoming career journey.

If you conduct a search and feel a bit deterred though, don’t freak out. Markets can be quiet at the end of the year, so keep looking after the holidays. Check out the careers service (www.careers.qmul.ac.uk) if you’re not sure how to go about this – they’re the experts!

Whatever works for you, don’t forget to give yourself that much-deserved pat on the back – exams are over! Now go have some fun!

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