Tackling Exam Stress
At the moment many children and young people are preparing for tests and exams.
For some of these children and young people the effects of this can be minor or even positive but research suggests that 1 in 7 students can feel highly anxious about tests and exams.
It is normal to feel a bit worried about exams, especially if you're under pressure from school or family. Exam stress can cause you to feel anxious or depressed, and this might affect your sleeping or eating habits.
If you recognise any of these feelings, or are worried that exam pressure is taking over your life, you are not alone, and there are things you can do. These tips are aimed at helping yourself if you feel you’re struggling but may also help you recognise stress in your peers so that you feel empowered to support others as well as yourself.
1. Remember to breathe
Setting aside a couple of minutes every day to practice mindfulness techniques, such as breathing exercises, helps you to calm down your body's stress response and shift your attention back to the present moment. In turn, this gives you time to rationally think through the anxieties you have, rid yourself of unhelpful thought patterns and enables you to deal with a large number of exams and begin more effective revision.
2. Eat, sleep and exercise well
Staying up late/depriving yourself of sleep, surviving on a poor diet, and getting minimal amounts of movement into your day can increase symptoms of anxiety. For your body's best performance, make sure you're getting 8/9 hours of sleep, enough slow-release carbs for example pasta, cereals, bread, bananas, less caffeine and more water, and at least half an hour of exercise per day.
3. Set realistic goals
Setting realistic goals, whether you have several weeks, days or hours before your exam, helps you to put everything into perspective. Acceptance of your situation and working within the realms of what you have maximises your productivity without the risk of ‘burnout’.
4. Don't go it alone
In 2004, a research paper published in Linguistics and Education saw that revising with peers is an effective study technique as it allows individuals to better absorb their own notes. In addition to this, the emotional benefits of social support tend to include a better sense of confidence.
5. Pace yourself through panic
Panicking before, during or even after an exam is common among students. If you experience it at any point, take six deep breaths, hydrate yourself, and then go back to the problem at hand, being sure to break it down into several, manageable chunks. Remember that there is usually a rational solution to every problem, even if you can't see it at first glance.
6. Believe in yourself
When being constantly faced with new challenges, we often forget to look back at how far we have come and how much we have already achieved. Given that you have prepared well, there should be no reason for you to worry. Therefore, when experiencing a negative thought, try to replace it with a positive one. For example, instead of thinking 'If I don't get at least a pass, I am a failure', think 'Whatever I get, I will be proud of myself and value how much I have already achieved'. You can do this!
7. If you feel like you are struggling, talk to someone
Asking for help is never shameful. In the most extreme cases, it can help save a life. When struggling, talk to friends, family, or your personal tutor about how you are feeling. Alternatively, don't be afraid to seek professional help and support.
Good luck, everyone!
If you would like further help and advice on this issue or any others, please feel free to get in touch with us on 01642 505580.
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