• DoKa

How to defeat Pre-Exam Stress


More often than not, in periods before exams, students may experience variety of symptoms: inability to focus and absorb study material, depression, fear, insecurity, relationship problems or even illness. These difficulties, labelled in modern society as a Stress, can be traced, without exclusion, back to own state of body-mind and to the “habits” related to it, no matter if these habits are of intellectual, emotional or physical nature.

Vary often, not the source of the problem, but rather expressed symptoms are taken care off. Although there are various ways to conquered occurred disturbances, generally, we can distinguish two basic “copping” approaches: fighting or running away.

“Fighters” will engage in methods, which require activity. They may start working even harder, sleep less, develop sport or substance addiction, intensify competitive behaviour, try to cheat or to use aggressive methods, all in order to achieve their goal.

Other group will choose “run away” strategy. This may be expressed through depressions, needs for long sleep, emotional neediness or substance abuse.

All of these methods may bring some help to the shaken system and although, once exam period is over, one may feel release of the “winner” (if exam is passed), without awareness of the underlying issues, there would be no winner at all. Rather, conditioning will continue settling and the same response cycle will keep running and get repeated in the future too. And that not only during another exam period, but as well in working engagements, relationships or at any other stressful life occasion, which awakes blueprinted automatism.

Learning how to cope with situations, which may release stress hormones, should start already at an early age. Unfortunately, our educational system is addressing mostly development of the intellectual side, precisely this aspect of intellect, which is responsible for accumulation, reorganisation and recalling of the information.

Children are mostly not offered the methods, which would allow them to maximise their own potential or to minimize stress exposure. This leads to development of approaches, which may not be adequate for higher education or for the life in general.

As much are children often left alone to develop their own strategies, even more is expected from the young adults. Of course, there are number of books with the tips about study methods and management of time, projects, presentations, career or what ever else. But, such books cannot help much beyond skilful management of the information flux. Skilful management of the life itself is more complex than that. One needs to dive deeper into the core of the problem, to raise awareness of own nature, understand causes of limitations, including destructive feelings and behaviour.

This is where the awareness practice comes in. It is not a magical method, which would allow you to pass exams without studying. It is a tool, which works simultaneously at the different body-mind levels.

Working levels

Body: keep fitness at the healthy level

During prolonged sitting and studying periods, not only that brain burns huge amount of energy, which needs to be replenished, but also stress on the body is much higher than usually assumed.

=> Fit body has higher stress and infection resistance

=> Tools: Zazen, Yoga, Taoist longevity practice

Mind: quiet your mind

Quite mind is powerful. Not only that focus gets improved, but perception gets clearer what allows more successful use of memorised information

=> Improved intellectual capability

=> Tools: Zazen

Emotions: recognise the nature of emotions

Emotions such fear, hate, jealousy, insecurity are amplified by our thoughts. Stop engagement in internal movies and dialogs. They are just recycled information from the past, sub-consciousness and imaginary future. Accept them but recognise their impermanence. Go back to present moment. Use breath as an anchor.

=> In a focused state of mind, emotions become fuel

=> Tools: Zazen, Taoist meditation

Spirit: understand the nature of life and Ego

Let go on dualities and stop labelling something or someone (including yourself) as a good-bad, successful-not-successful etc. Once you depart from such thoughts you will stop comparing yourself to others and judging will be over. Let go on expectations. They are just an expression of attachments to material and non-material things. Without need to be loved, respected, successful, etc. you will become “loved, respected, successful”…

=> Practice will help you to recognise your own nature and let go on “Ego”

=> Tools: Zen

#stress #zazen #education #fear

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