Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Miracle Cure for Exam Stress

I, like students everywhere right now, am smack bang in the middle of exam period. The stressful time of year where you swing between being so jittery from energy drinks and coffee that to sit still for more than a few minutes is torture fighting urges to start up obscure new hobbies that just cannot wait (one year I developed a random obsession with Katy Perry during exam season which evaporated with the exams), to wanting to curl up under a pile of blankets in bed and deny the world exists. The level of physical and mental stress we put our bodies through during exam season is torturous and I have been dependent on my traditional exam season staples:

Unfortunately, a diet of coffee, smokes and diet coke does very little for your health, mood or mental abilities. As what felt like my 100th late nighter in the library hit, my will to live was fast dissipating and every bus was beginning to look like a feasible get out of exams clause!

I was not in the best of moods when I left the house for my session with Danny this week then, to say the least! I'd had three hours sleep and i'd worked myself into such a state of stress over the exam that even the thought of food was making me want to grab a bowl. I was torn between a desire to cancel it and crawl back into bed, the knowledge I should probably be locked away in the library rather than escaping to the gym, and in a mood so black I wasn't sure I could handle being around people without biting someone's head off. One of those moods where if someone so much as gives you a funny look you explode in an unstoppable rage.

It's well known that exercise is a good stress relief. It releases endorphins in the brain which deplete stress and help you to achieve a more positive view of the world! It's also a great way to dispel that pent up energy which being restricted to the library, or a desk, creates such a build up off. Moreover, exercise improves your ability to sleep which further reduces stress. Sleep is something which students certainly fall short of in exam season (which is why the amount of sleep we get the rest of the year is totally justified!).

Now I, like the majority of the population, already knew all this. I knew the great scientific benefits of exercise for stress and i've frequently hit the treadmill to relieve some anger on previous occasions. But I was far from convinced that the gym was going to do anything for the black cloud currently above my head, as far as I was concerned nothing short of a bus a high ledge or the apocalypse was going to improve my mood until my final exam was out of the way (5 days to go now: is that a blessing or a curse?!).

We began our session with the usual leg circuit: squats, lunges, jump squats, jump lunges before moving onto arms. Just hitting the weights again gave an incredible release. I hadn't realized quite how much i'd been neglecting my body's need to exercise over the last week. What I really love about my sessions with Danny is that he always knows the right activity for me to be doing and is quick to shake things up if it's going to help (If you're in the Nottingham area check out his website linked at the bottom of this post, you won't find a better personal trainer around here!). So this week he suggested we break out the gloves and pads in an attempt to work out my aggression and improve my mentality. This was the miracle I had been waiting for all week. Words cannot describe how much of a stress relief hitting something is. I may have got a bit carried away and there were a few near misses between my glove and his face! But after 20 minutes of imagining everyone and everything that had been fueling my rage that morning was on the centre of those pads, the cloud lifted and suddenly the world looked like a slightly rosier place. The exams would be over in under a week, if I fail its not the end of the world, and all of a sudden I actually had some restored motivation and energy to focus on the revision which had been blankly staring at me all week. There was hope that something might click in my newly relaxed brain!

Whether it's exams, or work, family or friends causing you stress. There is nothing I recommend more as a stress relief than hitting the gym. If you get the opportunity, I strongly suggest breaking out the gloves and pads and throwing some boxercise in there, the therapeutic benefits of pummeling those pads cannot be underestimated. From now on, I for one will be swapping my exam season staples:


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