January 19, 2023, by Lindsay Hall

Just breathe – how to relieve stress around exam time

With exams taking place across campus we’ve had a look at some of the best and simplest ways to relieve the stress often felt by students at this time of year.

The key to staying in the peak performance zone – whether that’s physically whilst training/playing sport or keeping your concentration whilst revising – is to recognise when you start to feel stressed and then to apply some techniques to help you regain balance.

Good ways to relieve stress can include taking a break from what you’re doing and going for a walk in the fresh air, heading to the gym or for a swim to get your heart pumping, or taking part in an exercise class with others such as body balance or yoga to help you feel energised. Just taking a few regular breaks from revision to stretch your legs can make a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, aiding your revision. It’s always a good idea to keep hydrated throughout the day, even if you aren’t taking part in strenuous exercise.

If this feels like you’re taking too much time out of studying then don’t worry, there’s one other really simple and quick method you can try – deep breathing exercises. It sounds really simple – just breathe – but it can be really effective in off-setting those stress hormones such as cortisol, helping to make you feel re-energised and able to perform better.

You can do this exercise at any time of day and it’s a great way to just take a few moments and refocus;

  1. Place one hand over your chest and you other hand over your stomach.
  2. Breathe in and out for a count of about 5 to 6 seconds.
  3. As you breathe in you should feel your stomach expanding for the first 2 to 3 seconds of the breathe before your chest starts to expand. This kind of deep breathing can also facilitate digestion and reduce the stress-related tension in the muscles around your neck and shoulders.

Tips for deep breathing;

  1. Practice first by lying on your back with your knees bent, keeping your feet flat on the floor. To get the correct movement practice expanding your stomach whilst simultaneously expanding your lower back so that your back ‘curves out’ and presses into the floor.
  2. When standing and practising this exercise you should feel like you’re getting slightly taller as you breathe in – this shows you are engaging your diaphragm, causing your spine to compress and lengthen at the same time (this action can also be effective for relieving lower back pain if you’ve been bent over your desk revising all day).
  3. Practice five times per day for 1 to 2 minutes at a time and remember, taking just a little time to reset is often enough to help you achieve good results.

We offer a whole range of mind & body well-being exercise classes across all three of our sports centres, from body balance, Pilates and yoga to stress busting classes such as box fit and body attack. Just check out our fitness class timetable here and choose a class to fit in with your revision and exam timetable. All classes are included in Sport and Fitness Membership which is available to purchase for the rest of the academic year here.

We wish all University of Nottingham students the very best of luck during this exam period.

Find out more about how to #FindYourActive with us at University of Nottingham Sport here.

Posted in ExerciseHealth and FitnessWelfare in Sport