Don’t surrender to the exam blues

Exam time is stressful for many students, but the good news is there are lots of simple things you can do to combat the stress and help you to cope better with any anxiety you may be feeling.

To build resilience, make sure you are looking after yourself during the consolidation and exam periods.

Get enough sleep, organise your study schedule, take frequent study breaks, eat healthy food and try to exercise a little every day even if it's just a short walk.

The earlier you start your revision, the less anxiety and stress you are likely to feel.

Also, help is at hand through a recently introduced 24/7 phone counselling service as well as at the walk-in centres on campus.

It is important to remember that it is not the end of the world to fail an exam ... You will be able to work through it.

Dr Memory Muturiki, director of the University of Cape Town (UCT) Student Wellness Service (SWS), said: If you feel depressed or anxious and constantly worried about everything in exams and beyond, my advice is to talk to somebody, do it quickly and get help.

Top tips

Muturiki also offers the following tips to alleviate exam stress:

If you feel you have a mild illness, such as a cold, coming on, don't wait to seek treatment. Consult a nurse at the Student Wellness Centre or visit the walk-in centres and get the medication you need. The quicker you treat the mild symptoms, the faster you will recover.

If you're on medication for any condition, do not stop taking it. Speak to your doctor if you are worried about side effects, such as drowsiness, but it is recommended that you continue with your treatment.

If you notice friends or classmates who are battling to cope or are ill, refrain from giving them medical advice and rather suggest they see a doctor, the SWS clinic or one of the walk-in service points.

It is important to remember that it is not the end of the world to fail an exam, said Muturiki.

There is a way out. You will be able to work through it.

How to get help

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, talk to someone, and do it quickly. Here are some ways to seek help:

Phone UCT's telephonic counselling service, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) UCT Student Careline toll-free number, at 0800 24 25 26. Students can also send an SMS to 31393 and a counsellor will call back. The call service is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

SWS has set up a few walk-in service points on upper and middle campus, and on the Hiddingh and Medical campuses. They are open between 08:30 and 16:30 from Mondays to Thursdays.

If you need to be seen at the main clinic, you can book an appointment at the Student Wellness Service, in the Ivan Toms Building at 28 Rhodes Avenue in Mowbray.

Practical after-hours help is also at hand for students living in residences on campus. The Department of Student Affairs (DSA) Crisis Intervention Service, popularly known as the night-nurse service, is available to help students in residences who may face a mental-health crisis after hours. This can be accessed by contacting Campus Protection Services (CPS) on 021 650 2222.

ER24 Emergency is on standby for the university for any emergency at any time, and is able to dispatch an ambulance for you if necessary.

If you're off campus, the UCT Student Careline could be your first port of call. Phone emergency services if necessary, or find help at a hospital in an emergency.

Source: The University of Cape Town