The process of doing my final exams for Year 12 was a torturous one. Going to a selective senior school meant there was huge focus on getting an ATAR and after a year of grinding myself down, by the time my final exams rolled around I was burnt out. I’d spent some time in the lead up with my head in my notes but there was a lot of time where I would just lay on my bed staring at the ceiling.

Each morning before my exam I would drive to school with a sick feeling in my stomach. I was genuinely worried I wouldn’t be able to make it through my three hour exams without chucking my guts up. There were a lot of tears before and after my allotted testing times and when I saw my English teacher before my Paper 2 exam I started properly crying- snotty nose and blotchy cheeks included.

In the end I finished my exams, got my marks and haven’t looked back- which just goes to show how little the whole thing matters.

But that’s not the point and I know that my experience of freaking out is pretty common. When you’re facing off against the biggest academic test of your life so far, you don’t think about how insignificant it will all become in the months and years to come.

All you can do it deal with everything as it comes, so here’s a little reminder of the ways to deal with stress before your final exams:

1. Crying

A personal favourite of mine. Whenever I’m stressed I find myself sitting in my car just letting it all out; you can even play some sad music to make it extra dramatic. This can be a good; emotionally dumping everything and getting it out into the world through crying can genuinely help you feel better and ease some of those stress vibes. But, if you feel like all you’re doing is breaking down in tears don’t be afraid to reach out to someone (like a friend, parent or counsellor) to let them know how you feel.

2. Exercising

There’s some pretty solid benefits of doing sport and we all know any sort of exercise is going to release endorphins which are natural mood lifters. While you might feel like you have no time to get your heart rate up when you’re desperately trying to cram for your exams, it’s worth finding a second to get moving; it’ll help you out more than you realise.

3. Music

When we asked you guys how you dealt with stress, 59% of you said with music which is actually a pretty solid stress reliever. Music can have a massive effect on our emotions and science says it can decrease stress hormones. While there’s no guarantee that music will help you concentrate while studying, making yourself a chill playlist to listen to before your exams can help you block everything out, stay focused and calm down.

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