Student chilling in a hammock

Looking after your wellbeing during exams

Exams can be stressful and in stressful times we can forget to look after our own wellbeing as we focus solely on the upcoming event. Here are some tips from Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) on looking after your wellbeing during exam season.

Study spaces

It’s important to create a study space that is comfortable and away from any distractions. As tempting as it is to study in bed, creating a separation between work and rest will allow you to focus better when you are working, and switch off quicker when you rest. This will help to decrease your stress levels. Whether it’s the library, your favourite cosy café, or the kitchen table, experiment with different spaces to find what works best for you. We have amazing green spaces in the campus that are perfect in nicer weather to study in, like the Keynes duck pond or the green area by Templeman library. Our wellbeing map shows all good wellbeing locations you can use.


Recognising when to take a break is difficult, but something you will learn with time. We often become less productive when we don’t give ourselves time to rest. Whether it’s short, but frequent, study breaks or taking a day off. Dedicate blocks of time to rest from your studies, for example you can break the day in morning afternoon and evenings. It’s okay to take a day off to look after your mental health, just as you would if you were feeling ill. Make time for things that you enjoy and allow you to relax. If you need help putting together an exam study timetable you can speak to Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS) for advice on revision planning and strategies.

Social activities 

We all tend to isolate ourselves from others for the sake of studying. However, this can often have adverse effects on how you look after your wellbeing. Dedicating time to meeting with friends not only allows you to take healthy breaks from work, but also gives you an opportunity to seek support in others. Look at what events and activities are on offer at Kent Union if you want to look for social activities and events.

Having something to look forward to is important

Lack of motivation is usually something we all have to deal with at some point in our lives, especially towards the end of exam season. Having something planned for the end of exams can give you something to look forward to and work towards. This could be a concert, going out for a meal, or getting together with friends. Your big goal could be the Summer Ball. You can use countdowns to help motivate you. You can also use smaller things to look forward to day to day, for example if I do three hours of revision in a day, in the evening I can watch Netflix etc.

Being in nature

Studying all day can get you feeling pretty cooped up. Getting outside, being in nature is good for your mental wellbeing. It can help to keep you active and provide a space to think about other things than the exam or content you are working on. Perhaps go for a walk, a run or arrange to meet a friend as a break for you both.


You should never sacrifice sleep for study time. If you haven’t slept enough, no matter how much study you are doing, it will not go in. Sleep problems can often be an indication of other issues so you should always speak to your doctor if you are having long term issues with sleep. Routine is important to establish good day and evening structures. Get up at a regular time each day and try to keep a consistent bedtime. It is important to also have some downtime after study for an hour where you can decompress and empty your mind before you go to bed. Get off social media, that activates your brain. You can use various sleep mindfulness programmes. There are sleep support routines and guided support on the Spectrum Life app and you have free access to this.

Focusing on you 

It’s so easy to compare the amount of work we’ve done to our classmates. But it’s important to remember that everyone works differently and at their own pace. Have confidence in your own abilities and don’t lose faith just because you think someone has done more than you. They may not be telling the truth. We all learn differently and that is important to remember.

Setting realistic goals 

Telling yourself that you will study for an unrealistic number of hours each day is setting yourself up to fail. It takes a bit of practice and experience, but you will get to know what kind of goals are realistic for you. Setting achievable goals for each day will give you a sense of achievement and help to relieve any stress. You should spend no more than 8 hours in any day revising. After that you neglect other things like social time, relaxation time, going into nature etc. use the 8 x 8 x 8 wellbeing principle of 8 hours of work, 8 hours of relaxation, social, personal time and 8 hours of sleep.

Talking to people if you are struggling 

If you are struggling with your mental health during this time please speak to someone. You can contact SSW or contact the out of hours support provided by Spectrum. You can also speak to friends or family if you are struggling with things. The important thing is to let someone know if you feel things are unmanageable.

Having perspective 

We want you to the bets you can do in your exams but we understand that sometimes things can be difficult. All you can ever do is your best, and sometimes we make mistakes or things can get on top of us and we have a bad day. Not getting a perfect grade is not the end of the world, in the long run whilst this seems so important now it is just one small part of your life.- have that perspective. If you don’t do as well as you would have hoped there are resits, mitigation and lots of support available to you.