Five quick exercises to relieve exam stress
group of women doing yoga
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Five quick exercises to relieve exam stress

Seth Nobes December 31, 2021

Unfortunately, Christmas is over for another year and students are turning their attention to January exams. This will undoubtedly be a stressful situation for a number of reasons. Some will choose to tackle their exams at home, away from their preferred study spaces on campus, or in their term-time accommodation. 

Moreover, some students will have to balance their part-time holiday job with their uni work; striking a workable balance can be difficult. Unfortunately, some might have to work through distractions around the home, such as parents who don’t understand the fact that these exams have replaced previous years’ in-person assessments. 

All in all, I’m certain every student in the country will experience some level of pressure during this period. It will be difficult for many to readjust to their workload following some well-deserved time off over the festive period. It is a common misconception that the best way to succeed in timed exams is to dedicate every hour possible to the exam. This could not be further from the truth; nobody can stay awake for 72, even 48 hours without some sort of impact on their ability to work. 

To keep your body in the best working order to allow you to ace your exams, I have compiled a list of five quick and easy exercises to help get you through this mentally and physically challenging period. 


It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but its impact cannot be understated. The tense feeling created by exams is often physical as much as it is mental. Moreover, tension in the body builds up by being sat at a desk for hours on end. Yoga is arguably the best way for someone to release physical tension, as the poses make you more flexible and resilient. It also promotes focus; a key attribute for any subject’s exam. 

This video is ideal for beginners looking for a quick ten minute stress reliever.


Hardly a revolutionary suggestion, but an activity which can make a difference, even in the most stressful of situations. One of the main reasons walking can be so influential is because it simply gets you out of the house, and away from your desk. If you are struggling for a breakthrough with one of your answers, a quick walk is the perfect way to clear your head, allowing you to combat your paper with fresh eyes. 

Breathing Exercises

Some students won’t have the time in the middle of an exam to go out for a quick walk, or turn the room into a yoga studio. Breathing exercises can be extremely helpful for students who find themselves under time pressure, as it can be done at your desk between exam questions. Taking the time to even just focus on your breathing and get it under control can prove to be the calming influence you need before continuing to wrestle with your exam paper. 

For those with a few minutes, this NHS breathing exercise can be extremely helpful- Breathing exercises for stress – NHS (

Seated Spinal Twist

This exercise once again only takes up a few seconds of your time, so can be useful for students who only have a matter of minutes to finish their paper. It is extremely easy to do; place your feet flat on the floor, your right hand on the back of your chair, and your left on your right thigh. Take a deep breath, then turn your upper body to the right. Change your hands over, and repeat to your left. Despite its quick nature, this can prove to be actually what is needed to calm you down during the panic of an exam. 

Star Jumps

It can be extremely easy to lose focus during an exam, especially if you’ve been stationary for hours on end. A quick burst of exercise, like doing ten star jumps away from your desk, is extremely effective in providing a quick distraction, while letting out some of your irritation. 

See also: Four sports to try at university

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Seth Nobes is a freelance writer for Freshered, focusing on university sport. He is currently studying for an MA in Sports Journalism, as well as the NCTJ diploma, at St Mary's University, Twickenham after graduating with a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Birmingham. Seth is also an editor for the Sports Gazette, with a keen focus on cricket. He has written and commentated on a wide variety of sports, ranging from football and rugby, to sailing and judo, for publications such as Vavel, Deep Extra Cover, Burn FM, and Redbrick. He is also a long-suffering Watford fan, for his sins.