5 Tips for a Stress-Free Exam Period

Whether you’ve got mock exams or the ‘real thing’ on the horizon, it’s likely that you’ll be feeling the pressure this month!

It’s normal to be worried about getting the right grades and meeting the expectations of your parents and teachers, but if your brain is too consumed by panic then you won’t be able to learn effectively.

Testing yourself with Past Papers under timed conditions is a great way to prepare for the stress of ‘real’ exams; however, there are several other stress-busting options that are often overlooked.

Here are our tried-and-tested tips that every student try out this exam season. 

1. Breathe

Deep breathing techniques can really, really help if you’re starting to feel panicked, as they can ‘hack’ your brain and body into calm mode. Breathe in through your nose, counting till five; and then out of your mouth for five, letting your breath flow deeply into your lungs and down into your stomach. Do this for a couple of minutes and you will rapidly feel much calmer and more in control of your emotions.

Using the power of your breath is a proven, effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. But, like anything, it takes practice. So try to set aside at least 5 minutes a day – even when you’re not feeling stressed – to focus on your breathing. This can be done on the school bus, at home, or just before you go to bed.

2. Exercise

Physical movement is great for helping your body release some of the tension it’s storing and to clear your mind. Getting away from your desk, even if it’s just for a short walk, can give clarity, focus and a fresh perspective. Making sport and exercise an important part of your revision timetable is also important; muscle contraction produces endorphins – the chemicals in your brain whose job it is to boost your mood!

3. Make a plan

A key way to tackle stress is to make a plan of what can be done to reduce it. When you just think about all you have to do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Writing down the specific actions you can take to find solutions to your stress (and then doing them) will show you that these tasks are way more manageable than they seem.

Planning also means organising some fun rewards for yourself, both after exams and during the revision period! Having something to look forward will motivate you, and remind you that there’s more to life than revision and exams!

4. Get support

Your friends and family are likely to have noticed you’re feeling stressed and will want to help. Part of your stress-busting plan should be to identify the areas where you can get support. Surrounding yourself with people who will listen and help you gain some perspective is really important.

You’ll probably be surprised at how many of your friends are feeling exactly the same! Sharing your worries with the people you trust can help to lessen the burden on your shoulders and leave you feeling calmer.

5. Be kind to yourself

Stress often stems from the expectations and pressures you place on yourself. It’s great to have goals and aspirations, but if you’re always worrying about not meeting them or are constantly comparing yourself to others, then that works negatively. You need also need to accept that you can’t necessarily control everything, and that there are some things you won’t be able to change – but that’s okay! Be kind to yourself.

Although we all experience periods of stress, be aware that your mental and emotional state might indicate something more. High-pressure situations can highlight or exacerbate serious mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. If you feel there’s a bigger underlying problem, it’s important to see a medical professional who will be able to help.

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