I most certainly, and you most probably, have felt uneasy during exam season. But what is causing this unrest during this period in our lives and is it affecting our mental health?
The months between April and June can take a toll on us. Our dreaded routine only consisting of eating, sleeping, and revising .
We do this because we are under the impression that during these months, life revolves around exams, instead of revolving around ourselves.
This can in no way be healthy for us if we are more concerned about our results than our own wellbeing.
We ourselves should always be at the forefront of our actions however during the exam period we can put our wellbeing into jeopardy.
Examples of this is all-nighters, increasing the intake of caffeine substances, irregular eating patterns, bad eating habits, lack of exercise and a decreased social life.
Can you relate? These little things that we do so unwittingly, can cause an imbalance in our wellbeing and affect the way we perceive and treat ourselves.
The reason for this is exams focus on the feelings of our future self instead of the care we need during the present.
Going Through Exam Season:
We put ourselves under so much strain during exams as this period is not just an examination of our academic knowledge, but also an examination of our lives.
This is due to the fact we are constantly expected to do nothing but revise or otherwise we are told we will fail.
So, when a young person takes downtime for themselves, they frequently cannot do this without feeling guilty causing them to isolate themselves in a time when they need support and self-care the most.
Why do we change how we act so much during exams?:
This can be down to many reasons, but I believe the main reason is the pressure that students are under to perform well because we are told that examinations provide the gateway to our future, and to fail would equal a failed existence.
We must remember that exams do not control our lives, we are the controllers of it and if we forget this, our mental health can suffer. The worst part is that society does not encourage this notion and fails to see us as individuals that have a range of talents and grow at different stages but more as a robot that can tick boxes. Exams are not made for students they are made for the examiner because they are the easiest form of assessment.
Therefore, when we do not do so well it can affect our self-esteem and increase the feeling of being inadequate.
The problem with exams are that they are impersonal, but we take them so personally. They limit our creativity as every question requires a specific answer.
We are told to criticise rather than to celebrate ourselves. Constant scrutiny of our academic ability only prevails a constant cycle of negative emotions causing not only a negative perception of exams but a negative perception of life.
A negative mindset is never good for your mental health and is often a factor towards mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, anorexia and more
The School System:
Schools as learning institutions have failed students in the sense that we grow up with so much academic knowledge thrown at us however very little is taught able self-love and acceptance in a world where we all have a purpose. We are judged by our ability to climb a tree even if we are a fish that could be the best swimmer of them all.
We should be taught about how to find our identities by giving opportunities to students to be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and then given the support to strive to do their best at what they do best at, so we are not under constant pressure to have to excel at everything.
We need to be told that we are all worth it but with exams, not everyone is told so.
Overall the message I’m trying to say is that: treat exams as what they are…as just an exam.
Remember the things that are important to you and focus on your needs and if doing well in an exam one of them then that’s great but if not then that’s okay too. We all have different goals and targets but don’t let the process of exams cause you to beat yourself us, because as I said, we are all worth it.