A career in the Indian Administrative Service is a high prospect to aim for, and a prestigious one. The first step to achieve that dream is to clear the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission on an annual basis. It is necessary to remember, however, that the UPSC exam is a tough exam to crack. It is one of the most popular competitive examinations in the country with high stakes and standards. Tens of thousands of candidates take the exam every year, but only a dismal percentage qualify for the next round.
The examination can be said to broadly consist of two rounds- the examination round and the interview round. While the examination round can still be managed somehow with knowledge-based learning, the interview round calls for a calm mentality and a logical, methodical approach. The calmness that is essential should be internalised as much as possible and to do that sufficient training of the mind is necessary.
Preparing for the IAS exam itself can be a harrowing experience if you are given to nerves, anxiety or panic. The vast syllabus that is to be covered, coupled with a high difficulty level and a time period that always seems to fall short, keeping your mind calm becomes an essential talent to actually get some work done.
Here are five methods that may be helpful to keep your mind calm and anxiety free:
- Breathing in and out
This can be the go to factor if you feel the stress levels suddenly rising or a panic attack coming on. Concentrate on breathing in, holding your breath and then slowly exhaling to divert your mind from whatever it is that triggered your anxiety. The rhythm of slow breathing helps a lot in getting the overwhelming sensations in check. Relaxation exercises are the most common method that may be used to defer stress. In fact, a few minutes if conscious inhalation and exhalation every morning can go a long way in the daily purging off of stress from the mind, a few months before the UPSC examination.
- Focus on immediate facts
Whenever you feel the stress, try to focus on your immediate surroundings or the immediate facts of the situation rather than the futuristic model of possible outcomes that may take a turn for the worst. You don’t know what is going to happen and thinking of the worst case scenario as if it is reality is not the approach that is to be taken. Focus on the here-and-now to ignore the paranoia induced thoughts that are tampering with your psyche.
- Short, brisk walks
Taking short walks on a daily basis in the final months of preparation allows a required reprieve away from books and studies. It also allows for some isolated self reflection that can be helpful to keep the mind is a state of sustained calm during the process of preparing for the IAS exam. Regular walks taken as breaks from study time can be greatly constructive to the mental constitution.
A lot of nervous energy builds up in an individual during a period of stress. This energy can be effectively burnt off and utilised to keep better health and allowing a state of calm for the mind. Engage in some kind of light exercise on a daily basis to take your mind off of the upcoming examinations. It is important to remember not to overdo the exercise before the examinations, however. The objective of the exercise is only to keep you physically and mentally agile.
- Maintain a logbook
This can be effective in the building up of self confidence, reducing the chances of panic and nerves. A logbook to trace the progress in your preparation, or a list of topics you have thoroughly prepared in the months that you have dedicated to preparation can be inspiring for any candidate. Charting the progress from day one of preparation to the very end can be extremely helpful. Keeping a list of short term goals to achieve and making a list of achieved aims can also help with self-confidence.
The mental constitution is just as important to the process of preparation as physical health. If the mind is messed up, it has the power to undo months of hard work. It is essential to learn and know how to keep the mind calm in the wake of stressful situations and know how to appropriate the nervous energy and rework it towards a more positive end.