It’s common to feel overwhelmed and stressed after a particularly hard exam. You are thinking about what will happen if you fail, that one hard question that you just couldn’t get, or are wondering what your classmates thought of it. You may have lingering anxiety fresh out of the exam room and here are 10 ways to alleviate that anxiety.

1. Don’t think about the exam or the results

Put the exam out of your mind. It should be the last thing you are thinking about right now. It’s done and over with and you can’t change the results now, so why stress over it? You have most likely been thinking about nothing but the exam for weeks, so try to put it out of your mind and force yourself to take a break and relax; the hard part is over. It’s time to let your brain think about something else for a change– or even think about nothing at all. Fight the urge to compare with your classmates and save it for another time. It’s time to relax.

2. Take a walk in nature

After you leave the exam, go take a walk in nature to quiet your mind. Your mind is probably still buzzing with information and coming down from trying so desperately to remember all the facts you had memorized the night before. Walking in nature, listening to the calming sounds of the natural habitat, and just allowing your mind to slowly go quiet will not only make you feel good, but also bring you back to what is important. So go take a 15 minute walk along the beach, through the forest, or in whatever kind of nature is closest to you.

3. Read for pleasure

Throughout the school year you are forced to read lots of material, but when was the last time you read for pleasure? Cozy up and sit down with a good book and get lost in the story. It will take your mind off the exam you just took and may work your nerve down by distracting you. Pleasure reading has been proven to help reduce anxiety and put forth a calming energy which you sure could use right after a hard exam.

4. Watch your favorite TV show

Has a new season of your favorite TV show just come out? Or maybe a movie you’ve never seen before showed up on Netflix but you haven’t been able to watch it because you’ve been busy studying? Now is the time! Nothing is better after an exam than going back home or to your dorm, curling up on your bed with some snacks and pizza, and having a movie day. You can not only distract yourself from the exam you just took, but also just relax and watch some good entertainment.

5. Exercise

Exercise not only works to help the body, but it can also be beneficial for the mind. Exercise is proven to release serotonin that will increase your happiness and make you feel good as well as improve your sleep and oxygen levels. So even though you might be mentally tired, it could be a good idea to go move your body, whether that’s just some light exercise such as going for a walk or yoga or perhaps something a little more intense like going to the gym to lift weights. Getting your body moving will not only help you feel better, it might also help you take your mind off the exam for a while.

6. Treat yourself to a good meal

You’ve just sat in an exam room for hours on end…you are most likely hungry. The average student is so crunched for time during exam season that it’s often hard to make time for a good meal or even remember to take breaks to eat. Now you have all the time in the world—or at least for the rest of the day. Treat yourself to a good meal. Go back to your room and order whatever you want for take-out or go to dinner with your friends and catch up. (But don’t talk about the exam!)

7. Hang out with friends

Exam season is the busiest time of year for students, and you may have had little to no contact with your friends for the past couple weeks. Take the time to check in on them and plan a night out after your exam. You can get some much-needed social interaction and just have a good time out to take your mind off your recent exam. But make sure to avoid talking about the exam! Just for one night, enjoy each other’s company and forget you even had an exam to worry about. Have fun!

8. Rest

More than likely, your sleep schedule during exam season may not have been in the best shape, especially the night before a particularly hard exam. Take the time after the exam to give your body and mind some much-needed rest. Either go take a nap right after your exam or try to get 8+ hours of sleep during the following night to re-energize yourself and be ready to take on the next day. Avoid setting alarms if you can and let your body get as much sleep as it needs.

9. Buy yourself something nice

What better way to wind down after a hard exam than some retail therapy? After you leave the exam, head straight to the mall and buy yourself something nice. You just finished an exam, after all; that’s an achievement all on its own! Time to treat yourself!

10. Nothing at all

Your mind has been working so hard these past few days. Why not give it a rest by doing… nothing at all? Stare at the ceiling, watch the cars go by, listen to the birds sing. What better way to relax when your mind was just buzzing with information a second ago than by doing nothing at all? Give your mind a much-needed break and your body will thank you for it!

No matter what you choose to do to de-stress after an exam, give yourself a break. You have been studying hard the past couple of weeks and deserve to be able to take some time for yourself to wind down and relax. Don’t feel guilty for doing it either–you deserve it!

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