Examinations play a salient role in our years of schooling, where feelings of anxiety and stress are commonly associated with it. Managing such emotions can be difficult, especially by yourself. While I am, by no means, an expert on this topic, these methods helped me to put things into perspective and keep myself (more) composed when I was studying for my A-Levels, as well as coming to terms with how I performed for it.
Without much further ado, here are some tips that helped alleviate my stress through my O and A-Levels!
1. Understand The Dichotomy Of Control
“Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.” – Epictetus, an ancient Greek philosopher.
The dichotomy of control stems from the practice of stoicism, which states that some things fall into our control and some do not. The stoics strongly believed that everything around us operates in accordance to a web of cause and effect, resulting in a rational structure of the universe, which they call logos.
The key to understanding this is to know what is and is not within your control. While we may not always have control over the events affecting us, we are in control of how we approach and respond to things. Thus, the outcome of a situation is a result of our response to an event that occurs externally from our power of control. Recognising this is a crucial step towards helping you put things into perspective – to focus on what we can control, and to accept the rest for the way it is.
Things happen, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. However, bear in mind that we can always decide how we respond and react towards it. What’s more important is that we make the best use of what is within our circle of control and accept the rest for what is. It is only then that we can focus primarily on what we can do, instead of what we can’t; seek solace in the fact that you know that you’ve given it your all and that’s the most you can ask from yourself.
2. Reflect On Your Past Achievements
In times of stress, it’s easy to belittle yourself and overlook your past accomplishments. With so much going on around us, we’re always chasing our next goal and thinking of what we can do better, but often not realising how far we’ve come, resulting in this constant sense of inadequacy.
Similarly, I’ve also encountered such feelings of inferiority when comparing myself against others’ successes. However, after much reflection, I wish that we can be proud of what we achieved, instead of fixating on what we failed to. It’s not uncommon to feel insignificant, like a small fish in a very big pond, so much so that we do not even realise how far we’ve come and grown.
Perhaps, the next time you feel overwhelmed and swarmed with work, take some time out to reflect on your past achievements to see how much you’ve overcome, and remind yourself that this time, you can get over it too. Have some faith in yourself that you can get through it; after all, it’s a bad day, not a bad life! 🙂
3. Acknowledge Your Emotions
If you’re feeling overwhelmed from the heavy workload and tons of revision left to do, whatever feelings of stress, inadequacy and defeat are normal. I recall that during my time in JC, I often brushed away and neglected these emotions, going straight back to work. But, in the long run, this was not sustainable as I started becoming increasingly restless and unmotivated nearing the A-Levels.
Instead, I think it’s important to acknowledge whatever it is you’re feeling, and to take steps to ease them. Go for a stroll in the park or mall, or go out for lunch with your family, whatever it is, do something to take your mind off work. More often than not, you’ll realise that things are sometimes not as bad as what you envision them to be.
All in all, I hope that these tips are able to help you one way or another! It is undeniable that with so much going on around us, it’s easy to feel defeated and inadequate. But, that does not invalidate your past achievements and how much you’ve overcome. Rather, I feel that it’s more important to be proud of how much you’ve grown as a person and know that as long as you’re doing the best you can, that is the most you can ask of yourself! 🙂