Exam Stress

May 4, 2008 – 11:37 am

Exam time causes a lot of stress in the family – and not only for the young person who is due to take the exam. So what can you do to help your child or teenager to minimise their stress whist doing their revsion? Here are our top tips.

WHEN REVISING

  • Drink water throughout the day – keeping the brain hydrated helps it to work best.

  • Take regular short breaks whilst studying and do some gentle stretching or, better still, go outside for a few minutes and get some fresh air.
  • Snack on fruit and healthy options rather than loads of chocolate bars which will play havoc with blood sugar levels and cause energy lows.
  • Break work tasks up into manageable chunks, prioritise the most important bits and set realistic goals for each day. A written revision plan can be helpful if you feel overwhelmed.
  • Plan some regular relaxation and ‘fun’ time, ideally in a different place to where you are studying.
  • Spend some time talking to positive and encouraging people – avoid the ‘doom mongers’ and anyone who makes you feel agitated.
  • Make sure you get as much sleep as you feel you need to be alert and motivated during the revision period (see tips below).
  • Remember that this is not forever. Make the effort now to do your best and tell yourself how good you will feel when it is all over.

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE EXAM

Getting a good night’s sleep before an exam is excellent preparation for the day ahead, so we have compiled some tried and trusted “Do’s and Don’ts”.  The relaxation exercise works for adults too!

GOOD THINGS TO DO

  • Have a warm milky drink or herbal tea before bed.
  • Have a warm, fragrant bath before bed (not a hot one, see below)
  • Browse through a magazine or read a chapter of a (non school) book before putting out the light.
  • Listen to some relaxing music
  • Practise a simple relaxation exercise (see below)

THINGS TO AVOID

  • AVOID the temptation to stay up late studying so that you are over-tired, as your memory cannot retain things when your brain is exhausted.
  • AVOID stimulants such as tea, coffee or cola drinks for at least four hours before going to bed.
  • AVOID having a hot bath before you go to bed, as it is very stimulating.
  • AVOID watching anything too exciting on TV before you go to bed, as it is difficult to then unwind.

How to Relax

When you are anxious or stressed you tend to worry a lot and things go round and round in your head, which is a waste of energy. Worrying about a problem solves nothing!

The opposite of being stressed and anxious is to be relaxed and calm.

Practising a simple relaxation exercise before you go to sleep can help you to wind down and to get things into perspective.

Here is a very simple, very effective relaxation exercise, which you can practise in bed and then drift off to sleep. You can also do this at other times during the day when you are feeling tense or if you need to take a break from studying.

Try this Relaxation Exercise

Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting in your lap OR lie in bed with your legs uncrossed and your arms by your sides.

Be aware of your right arm (and say to yourself, slowly)
MY RIGHT ARM IS HEAVY, MY RIGHT ARM IS HEAVY, MY RIGHT ARM IS HEAVY

Be aware of your left arm:
MY LEFT ARM IS HEAVY, MY LEFT ARM IS HEAVY, MY LEFT ARM IS HEAVY

Both my arms are heavy, both my arms are heavy, both my arms are heavy

Be aware of your right leg:
MY RIGHT LEG IS HEAVY, MY RIGHT LEG IS HEAVY, MY RIGHT LEGY IS HEAVY

Be aware of your left leg:
MY LEFT LEG IS HEAVY, MY LEFT LEG IS HEAVY, MY LEFT LEG IS HEAVY

Both my legs are heavy, both my legs are heavy, both my legs are heavy

My arms & legs are heavy, my arms & legs are heavy, my arms & legs are heavy

Be aware of your neck and shoulders:
MY NECK & SHOULDERS ARE HEAVY, MY NECK & SHOULDERS ARE HEAVY,
MY NECK & SHOULDERS ARE HEAVY

Be aware of your jaw:
MY JAW IS HEAVY, MY JAW IS HEAVY, MY JAW IS HEAVY

Be aware of your eyelids:
MY EYELIDS ARE HEAVY, MY EYELIDS ARE HEAVY, MY EYELIDS ARE HEAVY

Be aware of your heartbeat
MY HEARTBEAT IS REGULAR & STEADY, MY HEARTBEAT IS REGULAR & STEADY,
MY HEARTBEAT IS REGULAR & STEADY

I AM CALM, RELAXED AND PEACEFUL
I AM CALM, RELAXED AND PEACEFUL
I AM CALM, RELAXED AND PEACEFUL

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