Passing UPSC’s Civil Service Exams is the highest goal of any student aiming for higher offices in civil services, like the Indian Foreign Service, Indian Administrative Service, or the Indian Police Service. So it is understandable that there is a lot of anxiety and stress associated with these exams. If you’re looking for quality UPSC coaching in Chennai, come to Chinmaya IAS Academy, where we follow a goal-oriented teaching methodology provided by the best trainers.
Students preparing for the Civil Services Exam will find themselves multi-tasking and handling multi-level preparations to tackle current affairs, cover the syllabus, practise with past-year papers, and so on, all within a very limited period. We are here to remind our aspirants that exam stress, if not kept in check, could affect their preparations negatively and harm their mental and physical health.
Effective Stress-busting Tactics for UPSC Aspirants
CSE tests the candidates on an array of subjects, making the syllabus vast and overwhelming. This may be the primary cause of stress in most candidates, often leading to conditions like constant headaches, anxiety, or even depression. Stress management is an important skill you should master when preparing for major competitive exams. Make small adjustments in your daily life to combat exam stress because stress can drastically affect your performance and health. Let’s look at a few general guidelines that you can consider:
1. Create a personalised, effective timetable
One of the best ways to reduce the chances of going into stress is to give yourself the maximum benefit of planned preparation. Create an effective schedule by planning backwards. Start with a goal and work towards it daily by taking actionable steps. Starting early is essential, and being realistic about time and your goals will ensure the maximum results.
We have to add that failure to start early can set you on a course to extreme anxiety if you end up having to cram the syllabus in a few weeks. Also, set limits on yourself. Set a date by which you will end the exercise of processing new information. Do nothing more than revisions before the exams. This will also go a long way in helping you manage anxiety.
2. Follow goal-based study plan
A goal-based study plan is the most effective. Setting time-bound study goals will ensure that topics and concepts are thoroughly covered and give you time for adequate study, revision, and even rest.
Figuring out your study style is another important factor that will lead to effective study. Traditional techniques like memorising large texts, impositions, etc., are ineffective and add to stress and anxiety. Start with the previous year’s papers early on and make it a point to learn concepts and ideas. This will help you grasp the concept, remember what you learnt and tackle different styles of questions.
3. Use past-paper resources frequently
A study plan that is based entirely on books and syllabus material may not help you get very far in achieving your goals. Solving past-year papers and other exam material will help you revise smarter and train your time-management skills for the exam day. It will also familiarise you with question formats and help you decide how to answer questions most effectively.
4. Set aside time for relaxation
Periods of intense study complemented by periods of effective rest or recreation is the best action plan for study. An exhausted or saturated mind will not be able to process any more information or perform well for the main exam.
Leisure activities are the best ways to relieve pressure from a saturated or tired mind. Hobbies like light reading, listening to or playing music, and gardening are simple activities that can soothe the mind and rejuvenate you. So these can be a great defence against stress.
5. Exercise Reguarly
A stressful study schedule can affect your mental and physical health. Exercise is one of the best ways to combat this stress. Any form of physical activity ranging from morning and after-dinner walks to jogging around the neighbourhood, visits to the gym, sports like badminton, or regular yoga can make a big difference in how your body processes stress. Science has proven that exercise has numerous health benefits and boosts brain activity. It develops concentration and creativity and has an overall positive effect on the body.
6. Maintain a healthy diet
A healthy mind and body depend as much on a healthy diet as on exercise and rest. Do your best to maintain a diet of healthy, home-cooked meals that consist of fruits, vegetables and good protein. Cheap snacks and preservative-laden food can hinder brain function and cause your body to react negatively to stress.
A lot of times, people preparing for competitive exams and other stressful situations can fall into the trap of exposing their bodies to stimulants. Candidates may take several coffee or tea breaks to keep their minds active, but this could backfire and cause them to experience increased anxiety, inability to focus and general discomfort over time. It is best to stay away from stimulants and to keep your body adequately hydrated with water and other healthy liquids.
7. Get adequate rest
Focus is a valuable ability for effective study, and many find it difficult to master. Several factors can affect the ability of the mind to focus. Chief among these is the amount of quality sleep you get. An exhausted or sleep-deprived mind cannot function. Many students cram in long hours of sleep-deprived study and later face the consequences.
Another factor is the number of distractions in the environment. Social media and use of devices can hamper the quality of both sleep and work or study. Creating an environment that promotes good sleep and focused study is very important, and getting rid of distractions is the first step.
8. Maintain a positive mindset
A positive mindset is the most powerful force a human can have. People with a positive mindset have been known to achieve impossible things. Another tenet you could adopt and practise for yourself is that happiness is a learned habit, rather than an involuntary reaction. According to experts, the feeling of happiness is a decision of the mind. So it is possible to consciously decide to be a happier person. A happy and positive mind is the easiest to work with and the one most likely to succeed.
9. Believe in yourself
It is easy for anyone going through a stressful situation like competitive exam preparation to get carried away with small details and lose focus of the higher goal or stress about the outcome. Did you know that psychologists have found that candidates who stress out on exam outcome and stay in a negative frame of mind are less likely to reach their goals? Positivity and a calm and happy frame of mind are necessary for getting through a challenging situation. Gain the upper hand over your mind. You are doing your best if you can give enough time to practise, receive instruction, and engage in goal-based learning.
Concluding Thoughts on UPSC Preps
Competitive exam aspirants stand the best chance of success if they can train their minds for success and consistently and diligently put their best work into goal-based, smart exam preparation.
Stress is one of the greatest enemies of good exam performance. The steps one needs to take to combat stress are some of the simplest lifestyle changes. In short, keep calm, remain positive and happy. Give your best efforts to your preparations, and you will do well!
We wish you the best!