Date posted: 8/04/2019

Mindfulness: The simple practice that could help you manage exam stress

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Have you ever been preparing for an exam and had the pressure leave you feeling paralysed?

Camille Woods CA knows well what that feels like. She has experienced some stressful times in her career and understands just how easily you can become overwhelmed.

"I moved to Brisbane and was an accountant for a mining company handling the financial statements. As time went on it started to become quite stressful and so I started attending some meditation classes and actually really enjoyed them," Camille says.

Wanting to learn more about the craft, Camille undertook a meditation teacher training course. She now splits her time between teaching accounting at the University of Technology Sydney, and her business Monday Mind, teaching yoga and meditation at corporates such as EY.

Camille Woods CA Mindfulness

Camille shares her tips on how to handle different types of stress through the practice of mindfulness:

Enjoy learning by linking your study to your goals

Camille has found that one of the biggest struggles students have when dealing with stress is forgetting that study can lead to opportunity.

"When my students start feeling stressed, it's easy for them to get stuck in it, and then it's hard to study. You can't see yourself succeeding and you're approaching it from a negative point of view. Or you just think "I'm not good at math, I don't deserve to pass" so you don't try that bit harder in your exam study," she says.

"I try to help students get out of that pattern by reminding them why they want to learn. When I know what their dream career is, I can tell them how study will help them to reach their goal."

Camille believes it's important for students to learn how to break the cycle of telling negative stories in their own heads in order to move forward, and that mindfulness and meditation strategies can help achieve that.

"Ignore those external forces and just think about your goals... That way everything you're working on is leading to where you want to go in your future career."
Camille Woods CA, Corporate Meditation Teacher & Accounting Academic.

"Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular techniques. You train to notice absolutely everything around you: the noise, your feelings, if you have tense shoulders - and then you accept it," she says.

"You don't judge if that noise is bad, or that your tense shoulders represent a bigger problem, you just accept it. What I find is, if you have people you're not getting along with or some conflicts, by practising mindfulness, you can stop all those different stories that you tell yourself, and just accept things as they are. Then it frees up your mind."

Keep in touch with your emotions

While numbers are a significant part of an accountant's job and accuracy is paramount, Camille says it's important to stay in touch with your emotions and acknowledge that sometimes things won't go perfectly.

"To me, it's about being human and loving your job. We all make mistakes, but if we work together to solve the problems, we get the best out of people. That's why you can benefit from practising yoga and stretching to help keep you centered, be resilient and enjoy the job that you're in," she says.

Camille Woods CA Mindfulness

Embrace the process

According to Camille, the way students approach learning is also a large contributing factor to stress. Instead of looking at exam study like an arduous task to complete, getting excited about it as an opportunity to learn new information and skills can make a real difference.

"Get excited about learning accounting because you're going to be using those skills for what you love. You've got to think beyond exams and beyond even the job you have right now, because the exciting part is awaiting you," she says.

"Ignore those external forces and just think about your goals. If you have a business idea, or something exciting that you want to do, or you want to be a CFO or CEO - you can apply your study efforts to your end goals. That way everything you're working on is leading to where you want to go in your future career," Camille says.