British Columbia

Self-care plays key role in managing exam stress, says psychologist

Melanie Badali with Anxiety B.C. says that during the stressful exam season it's important to take care of yourself by exercising, eating right and seeking out supports you may need from others.

Melanie Badali says that taking care of yourself and knowing you're not alone are key in managing test anxiety

Melanie Badali says it's inevitable that students will miss some materials or classes, so learning how to study properly will ease anxiety around test times. (Vincent Kessler/Reuters)

It's exam season across the province and with that comes major stress for post-secondary students.

Melanie Badali, a registered psychologist and Board Director with  Anxiety B.C., says students should remember they are not alone. 

"We all run into anxiety before tests … but sometimes it really starts to get in the way and crushes people, they feel like their mind is going blank," Badali said.

"It's time to bust up that stigma and shame surrounding anxiety. It's so common. One in four people have an anxiety disorder … and certainly we all experience anxiety, it's normal."

Anxiety BC has a booklet, available for download that can help students identify and cope with anxiety around exams. Badali says a lot of the stress can be traced to how students study for exams.

"Managing your worries is a big part of dealing with test anxiety," Badali told Gloria Macarenko on B.C. Almanac.

Badali says that learning tips to study properly can reduce stress leading up to the exam.

'One test is not going to make or break you'

Parents have an important role to play in how their children view the act of taking tests from a young age, says Badali.

"I think parents have a role right from when kids take their first test in terms of setting reasonable expectations for your child and building realistic thinking skills," she said.

Badali says friends and parents have a key role in encouraging self-care of stressed students as well. She says that nutrition, exercise, encouraging breaks, and simply being there as a support are all things to keep in mind.

"I think there's a lot parents can do in terms of helping their kids see that a test occurs in a broader, richer life and any one test is not going to make you or break you."

With files from B.C. Almanac