How to keep your cool during exams

Graphic by Erika Streisfield

There’s nothing that sucks all life and happiness out of you quite like tirelessly studying for weeks on end. With exam season fast-approaching, this probably won’t be the first time you hear this, but, despite it all, you should make sure to take care of yourself. Sleep right, eat well and get some exercise — you know the drill. But sometimes the things that really make the difference between feeling like a human and a zombie are the little ones. While it’d be wondrous to consistently do yoga, get all five food groups in and pull off a full night’s sleep, some days it’s just not realistic.

The following tips are ones that are easy to take and will hopefully help you maintain a greater sense of sanity throughout these next few weeks.


First off, take showers. Usually I shouldn’t have to say this, but showers tend to go on the back burner during exams. Stepping under hot water can ease some of the tension built up from hours spent hunched over a desk. Plus, hygiene is a pretty good excuse to take a break from studying. It sounds simple, but it can be a gratifying 10 minutes of calm.

Study in sunlight

Exam season has a way of making you feel empty inside. Retreating into a corner of Stauff for two weeks straight doesn’t exactly help that cause. Opt for a seat near a window to remind yourself that there’s an outside world, where the sun shines and exams aren’t taking over your life.

Make playlists

Playing the right music can elevate your mood in any scenario — even hour eight of studying. I like having a few playlists: one that pumps me up to grind it out, one that picks me up (usually reserved for my showers) and one that mellows me out before I go to bed. 

If music distracts you too much while studying, try a “Rainy Mood” soundtrack. There’s one on YouTube that’s just eight-straight hours of rain and thunder sounds — amazing. 

Get fresh air

Get outside and take a conscious breather. Even the walk to and from the library counts, but if you’ve got a little more time than that, try taking a short walk at dusk. As cheesy as it sounds, something about seeing the sun set can be so relaxing.


If you feel like your life’s a mess, a room that looks like something exploded doesn’t help. 

Stress-cleaning isn’t for everyone out there, but it’s a real thing. During exams, my room quickly devolves into a mess that usually doesn’t get cleaned until after exams are over. Taking some time to tidy it up can be good for you — a clean room is a clean mind.

Nothing is worth your health

Finally, remember that as stressful as this time of year can be, it’s all going to be okay. Whatever it is that you do to make it through exams, give yourself the permission to indulge. Take breaks, see your friends, call your mom — there’s nothing wrong with making time for your well-being.


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