Stress less during exam season

Take a break from studying.

With exams rapidly approaching, stress levels throughout Durham are soaring. Those 9am lectures you slept through suddenly feel like the worst mistakes of your life and you’re frantically researching how much caffeine can be consumed before the shakes actually kill you.Stop. Take a break. Put down your notes and rest your addled mind.

Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, recommends that you take regular revision breaks, claiming that psychologists say we can only concentrate properly for 30-45 minutes at a time. Therefore, it is essential for your health (and, undoubtedly, your exam performance), that you look after your mind and body by not setting yourself ridiculous goals and revising whole modules in a day. By taking some time to enjoy yourself and de-stress, I can guarantee that you will feel happier and more prepared to tackle those remaining topics. You will be much more likely to enter the exam hall calm and confident rather than a frazzled, sleep-deprived and emotional wreck.

Here are some suggestions to unwind around Durham.

Take a walk

Stroll through the city and actually enjoy the ambience. Stop and listen to the one-man band on the bridge or gather your thoughts at the Cathedral’s cloisters. Also, nothing puts exams into perspective like the calming influence of nature. Enjoy the wild bluebells in the woods near Maiden Castle or have a picnic at Wharton Park. SCA Volunteering are providing maps of walking routes around Durham – pick up a copy and go exploring!

Take in Durham’s beauty spots


Whether you choose to actually have a short nap, watch an episode of Netflix or luxuriate in a warm bath, relaxing will leave you feeling much more mentally prepared.

Treat yourself

Keep active

Go to the gym, play some sport, or even just dance around to your favourite songs with your housemate. Whatever you choose will improve your outlook and refresh your body.

Cycle around the city

Catch up with friends

Drag your housemate out of their own prison cell/study space and take them for a coffee/something stronger. Have a laugh and fantasise about all of the day trips and nights out you’ll be able to enjoy when exams are over.

Explore Durham’s countless cafés


Baking is my favourite way to chill out. Not only is the process itself therapeutic, but the end product is even more rewarding! You’ll also have some lovely treats to motivate yourself with when you get back to working.

Experiment with new recipes

Escape Durham

If you’re feeling particularly claustrophobic, you can even escape the Durham bubble with a day trip. Have some retail therapy in Newcastle, take the train to the seaside, or even go further afield to York. SCA Volunteering are also organising trips to Misty Blue Farm.

York is (almost) as beautiful as Durham

Be creative

Draw a picture rather than simply doodling on the side of your notes. Take some artistic photos, even if they are only for your Instagram. Write a short story or start a blog. 

Let your imagination run away with itself.


If these options don’t alleviate your stress, remember that there is a support network in place for students who are struggling under academic and personal pressures. Speak to your Academic Advisor, or contact Durham University Nightline on 01913346444. You can also find more information and help online at

Photos: Anna Gibbs

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