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How to beat exam stress with deep breathing

05/09/2023 |

Woman in meditation poseWe all know the feeling, exams are coming up and you feel like you have a lot on your plate. Between trying to cram information into your brain and creating the ‘Great Wall of Study Notes’ around you, you might be feeling the stress.

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and just do your best. And we’ve put together a few breathing tips to help you relax and make it through exams without any new frown lines.


Breathing and stress

When we feel stressed, our breathing can change to become more rapid and shallow so that we’re not taking in as much air as normal. Deliberately taking note of these changes and make an effort to adjust breathing can help with relaxation and reduce stress.

Breathing tips

  • Slow your breathing by taking some deep breaths – breathe in to 3 counts, hold for 1, and breathe out for 4 counts to start off with
  • Don’t forget to use your stomach to breathe instead of your chest or shoulders – put a hand on your stomach and feel it rise as you inhale
  • Put a few 10-20 minute breaks in your study schedule to take a moment and breathe. Try to develop a habit by doing this at least once a day somewhere you can feel calm and relaxed.
  • Try these breathing exercises lying down if you can for extra relaxation and to really feel connected to your body

Other tips for reducing stress

  • Try a bit of stretching or yoga in the morning or before you start studying to prevent stress, improve posture, lessen aches and pains, and increase energy levels. Not sure what to do or where to start? Try to find a beginners video on YouTube or come along to free Yoga on the Grass at UWA
  • Make time for self-care with frequent breaks or get outside to go for a walk to take your mind off anything that’s making you feel anxious. Then you can come back to study feeling relaxed and refreshed!
  • Eat proper meals, stay hydrated and avoid lots of sugary snacks. Good nutrition will give your body what it needs and keep your mind healthy too.
  • Don’t forget to get lots of sleep. It can be tempting to pull an all-nighter before an exam but sleep is essential for brain function.

Where to get help

If you’re finding it difficult to manage your stress, anxiety or mental health, make sure you reach out for help. Here’s who you can contact:

UWA also has a range of student support services including, mental health and wellbeing services for current students. So, we're ready to support you throughout your entire study journey.

References: Healthy WA, LiveLighter

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