COVID-19 and the UCAT: How to Deal with Anxiety and Stress

UCAT

2020-04-15

Anxiety and stress are very common conditions, but no more so than right now. After all, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that we’re now all experiencing a new kind of ‘normality’.

Staying indoors with family or flatmates, ‘indulging’ in just one piece of exercise outdoors per day and not having the opportunity to mix with people beyond our four walls can all add up to a feeling of unrest – but we must remember that this won’t last forever.

That said, if you are experiencing anxiety and stress, we have five top tips to help you get a handle on your emotions. After all, learning how to balance your stress and anxiety levels and improving your well-being will help you out in the long run, particularly when the UCAT test rolls around.

Medify's blue headphones to help block out stress

Practice Mindfulness:

What is mindfulness? Mindful.org suggests it is: ‘the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us’.

In the current climate, this can mean not watching the news so often, taking our mind off what’s going on around us, or finding ways to cope with more difficult obstacles. Mindful.org also offers some meditation tips to help you practice mindfulness; try it while social-distancing and see if it benefits you. Once you’ve mastered the art of meditation, try it just before an exam, using mindfulness breathing techniques to calm your mind before you sit down to take a test. 

You could also practice gratitude, thanks to these 40 hacks, which include writing down what you’re grateful for in a ‘daily gratitude journal’.

If you can’t switch off at night, try listening to some relaxing music, escaping to your own world for a little while. Sleep is so important to productivity – and after a good night’s sleep, you’ll be ready and raring to get back to your revision when the time’s right.

YouTube offers lots of mindfulness playlists you can enjoy while drifting off into a peaceful slumber – here’s just one to check out

A woman meditating during COVID-19 madness

Try Meditation:

Many people swear by meditation to help them relax and unwind, particularly before an exam. 

What is meditation? The Headspace app describes it as ‘training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective’. You’re learning to observe your thoughts and feelings in order to get a better understanding of them, which will help you make sense of how you feel before, say, an exam.

The Calm app aims to help you: ‘sleep more, stress less and live better’, which has got to be useful when you’re preparing for a big test like the UCAT.

You could also try Headspace, as mentioned above, which has a similarly healthy following amongst people who’d like to balance their mood during times of high stress.

A book- reading to calm nerves during COVID-19

Enjoy Some Self-Care:

If pre-exam stress is getting on top of you and you find that you just can’t focus on revision, try stepping away from your desk or study area and taking some time out.

Whether ‘self-care’ to you is a hot, candle-lit bubble bath, half an hour in the sun in the garden, or a cup of tea and a sweet treat, it’s vital you enjoy some much-needed TLC.

You could also take some time out to read a little, if that will help calm your mind.

A woman exercising to beat COVID-19 lockdown depression

Exercise:

While we can still head outdoors for one piece of exercise a day for 30 minutes, it’s vital we do so; there may come a time when only essential shopping is permitted.

Even if you simply head out for a 20-minute walk in your neighbourhood or a quick workout in your yard, we promise when those endorphins are pumping around your body, you’ll experience a significant mood lift.

After all, exercise can help beat depression, curb frustration and build resilience. Why not ease yourself into it with something like these free online yoga tutorials?

A stressed emoji in a not allowed red circle with line through it to show you're not to feel guilty

Don’t Allow Yourself to Feel Guilty:

We all experience guilt from time to time, but often, it isn’t helpful to feel this way.

If you feel you’ve done enough revision for one day, leave it at that and don’t try to overdo it. Similarly, if you’ve crammed a lot of studying done yesterday, give yourself a break today. Some guilt can be good, motivating us further, but often it can put a stop to our concentration and ends up making us feel worse.

The ability to remain calm, particularly during such trying times as these, is just one trait medical schools will look for in prospective candidates. Use this period of social-distancing to your advantage, practice and develop resilience during tougher times. 

To stay up-to-date with the possible changes COVID-19 might bring to this year's UCAT testing season, bookmark our live updates page here.

Note: In response to COVID-19, Medify has rolled out a COVID-19 guarantee scheme for those purchasing a UCAT season pass. This means that even if the UCAT exam is delayed, we will guarantee access to the Medify platform until your exam date.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious? Please don’t worry, head over to our UCAT 2020 Online Course and we’ll get you signed up to guide you through this whole process.

We have a bank of over 10,000 questions, a decision-making section, and 8 full mock exams and 18 mini-mock exams; we even give you performance feedback too.

We’ve been lending a successful helping hand since 2009. Medify’s here to support you, just reach out to us.

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