Ways to Manage Stress During Your Exams
Education: The Purest Stimulus
Learning, in any form, is one of the most rewarding activities in life. A good education opens doors to personal and professional growth, concurrently stimulating the mind and body in the most positive of ways.
Education and the search for knowledge have formed the foundation for all spiritual and scientific progress across time. The fruits of a good education manifest in art, science, technology, culture and much more. But considering all the positives a good education offers, why does it become one of the most common sources of stress?
The Stress of Education
Unfortunately, in the world we know, education is tied to competition for a variety of socioeconomic factors. While healthy competition can be a positive source of stimulus for progress, unhealthy competition can lead the mind astray down a rabbit hole of negativity and cognitive dissonance.
For many students, education brings pressures of examinations and grades. Strangely, the positive pursuit of learning frequently takes a backseat to rote memorization.
For many young people, the focus of institutional education becomes a swamp of homework and tests; the benefits of opening the mind and exploring different forms of thought are seldom explored.
How To Overcome Stress
As much as we would like to change the status quo and relieve stress with a wave of the hands, reality does not work that way. So how do we stay calm and what are the ways to manage stress during your exam and education??
Fortunately, there is a somewhat easy fix to relieving the pressures of mental stress. We simply need to expand our horizons and allow the mind a ‘break’ from the doldrums of routine. Providing the mind with diverse stimuli is an effective way to allow the mind to ‘decompress.’
Playing sports, for instance, is a great way to stimulate the mind and open up new avenues to problem-solving and practical application.
Art is another method of creative expression that can allow the mind some freedom from the routine way of problem-solving and thinking.
Similarly, Spirituality offers yet another interesting and easy to practice perspective that can allow the mind to refocus. Adopting these simple yet effective ways can help you manage stress during exams and focus better.
Spirituality and Education
Much of spirituality deals with exploring the inner self and providing the mind with different outlets for problem-solving and thought. Unlike institutional education, spirituality seldom has a correct answer; let alone an answer to begin with!
Rather than the destination, spirituality shifts focus on the journey. The spiritual way of looking at problems is more concerned with the approach and thought; in fact, different ways, or perspectives, of approaching or thinking about a problem or goal allows the mind freedom to explore different solutions.
Take for instance, the classic Buddhist parable of the three monks and the flag blowing in the wind. On their journey, three monks pause to rest and notice a flag waving in a gentle breeze. While on first glance, it appears there is only one way of observing the scenario at hand, each monk offers a unique perspective of the seemingly obvious. The first monk contends a strong wind is blowing around the flag; the second monk contends the wind is not blowing but rather the flag flying; the third monk neither the wind or flag is moving rather their minds were moving (i.e. movement is matter perception). The moral of this parable focuses not on a certain answer, but rather on an uncertain problem. The inherent journey of thought opens avenues to different outcomes. Thus, spiritual thought is an exercise in strengthening the mind’s resolve and strength.
By valuing the journey of learning, spirituality can help train the mind to become calmer, more focused, and more appreciative and flexible of approaching certain goals and problems from different perspectives.
Education and The Vedas
In the Vedas, the power of knowledge and education is personified by the deity Saraswati. Symbolically, Saraswati means “one with water”, or she “who possesses water.” The imagery of water intends to focus the mind on clarity.
Considering that the pursuit of knowledge can often be a difficult concept to focus, Saraswati provides us with an opportunity to channel our focus on a fixed point. In a sense, she allows the mind to fixate on a tangible form of knowledge while giving us enough flexibility to explore the more intangible forms of spirituality without deviating significantly from our goal, which in this case the yearning for mental clarity and the search for knowledge.
The Saraswati Mantra to manage stress during exams
To aid in this journey of mindful exploration, there are several mantras that allow us to focus the mind on Saraswati.
One of the simplest is:
Om Aim Hrim Kleem Maha Saraswati Devaya Namaha.
Try to find a quiet place where you can focus for a few moments, and try reciting this mantra. Does it help you feel more focused?
Education is rewarding; the search for higher knowledge should stimulate and challenge the mind in a positive and healthy way. The mind has an innate ability to approach problems from a variety of different angles and it benefits from activities that enable flexibility and freedom.
If you’re facing the conundrum of boredom and stress from school or university, try challenging yourself. In particular, from a spiritual lens, an exercise in self-discovery may just surprise you as you find different ways of approaching problems.
So next time you wonder how to calm nerves/manage stress during an exam, a different approach may just be exactly what you need the next time you find yourself with a tricky question and time running out!