Exam season can be one of the most stressful times of our lives, so it is crucial we are taking steps to prioritise our wellbeing. Whilst small amounts of stress are normal and more manageable, understanding the physical impacts stress can have on our bodies is important to avoid unnecessary aches, pains, and strains, especially whilst juggling studies and exams.
This exam season, Catherine Quinn, chiropractor, and President of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), shares her top tips we can all incorporate into our daily routine – to ease the physical impacts of stress.
Catherine’s top tips to ease stress during exam season:
- Start small – Incorporating movement into your day is so important, but many of us set unmanageable goals for exercise. When we don’t achieve these goals, which are far reaching to start with, this then impacts our motivation, making us less likely to create new positive habits for our wellbeing. It’s great to set longer term intentions, but start small. Over time this will become almost an automatic habit and you can build it up from there – it’s all about manageable bitesize chunks!
- Get up, get moving – Exercise and other physical activity has been proven to reduce stress. Not to mention, your back loves to stay active. Try and move around every 20-30 minutes, whether at home or at work. If you don’t want to or can’t go full throttle with high endurance-based activities, look for smaller opportunities to exercise during the day. Why not walk to the shop instead of getting the bus, or go out on your lunch break instead of eating at your desk? Another top tip is to always stand up when you take a phone call and use hands-free technology when you can.
- Slow down! – Try exercise which is a bit slower, like yoga, tai chi or palates as opposed to those fast, power-based exercises like interval-training or running. Those can cause further release of adrenaline and cortisol, making any lingering problems worse.
- Breathe easy – Stress can aggravate or prolong pain, so if stress is a problem, it’s important to recognise it early and do something about it. You can’t always avoid stress, but you can learn to reduce its effects with controlled breathing, muscle relaxation and mental calming techniques.
- Pamper time – After a long, busy day, try to find some time that’s just for you – my moment of peace is always a relaxing bath. If you’re having a long soak, make sure you have a regular stretch and move while in the tub. Many patients agree with me that a nice hot bath can ease off some of the daily muscle aches we all experience, so make sure you are set up for the ultimate unwind!
- A great night’s sleep – it’s all too easy to scroll through your phone from bed, and before you know it, an hour has gone. Try and protect the hour before you go to bed as your personal wind down time. Avoid blue light tech – most phones have a night-time mode, which changes the screen light and stops notifications coming through. Again, the main thing is about consistency and sticking to similar timings each night, so you train your brain for your new routine.
About the British Chiropractic Association: The BCA is the largest and longest-standing association for Chiropractors in the UK and has been named ‘Best Professional Body of the Year’ at the Memcom Excellence Awards 2022 for its Repositioning Project which has played a pivotal role in changing the healthcare landscape for the better. As well as promoting international standards of education and exemplary conduct, the BCA supports Chiropractors to progress and develop to fulfil their professional ambitions with honour and integrity, at every step. The BCA is raising awareness about the rigour, relevance and evidence driving the profession and the association’s ambition for chiropractic to be more closely embedded within mainstream healthcare.