Exam stress

We’re well and truly into exam season and you could be feeling as cool as a cucumber or you may be worrying and experiencing some of the signs of stress. A few nerves are completely normal before taking an exam and they are a good thing – a little adrenalin will mean you are alert and focused – but if your nerves are overwhelming you and you’re constantly feeling anxious and irritable, having trouble sleeping and finding it difficult to concentrate, you need to take some time out.

Stress is your mind and body’s way of reacting to pressure, so don’t pile even more of it on yourself. You may be working hard to achieve top grades to get into your first choice of university, you may be worrying about the new-style GCSE exams, you may feel you don’t want to let your parents down. All you can do is your best to prepare and revise and do your best when sitting each exam. If you find an exam difficult or think you’ve messed it up, don’t spend ages worrying about it. Try to put it behind you and move on. Take it a step at a time, look after yourself and hang in there. It’ll soon be the summer…

Agnes tips for exam-stress relief:

Breathe – It may sound a bit obvious but totally concentrating on your breathing for a few minutes and blocking out everything else is a great emergency stress-reliever. Breathe in for a count of 3, hold for 3, breathe out for 3; breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4; in for 5, hold for 5, out for 5; then back to 4, then 3. You can do this at any time (even during an exam).

Press pause – If you’re getting in a tizzy over your revision, stop and do something else productive for a while to take your mind off it. You could go for a walk, a swim or a run, make an energy-rich snack like flapjacks or these choc-orange energy balls, tidy or rearrange your room.

Chill – Make sure you spend some time relaxing, especially after a day of sitting exams. It might be tempting to revise for the next exam straightaway but it’s important to wind down. Perhaps use a facemask and have a warm bath, listen to relaxing music or watch a favourite film.

Eat well – It’s important to get all the right nutrients, including plenty of protein, vitamins and minerals. Complex carbohydrates (such as wholegrain cereals and bread, oats, nuts and seeds) release glucose into your blood stream gradually, keeping you energised for longer. If you are on study leave, you’ll have time to eat a good breakfast and take breaks for a drink and a light snack. And don’t forget to keep well hydrated with plenty of water. Find out more about foods that may help to boost your brain power here.

Have a laugh – Chat to a friend, watch a favourite comedy show, play with a pet. Laughter can help to put everything into perspective and is a great stress-reliever. Check out #GCSEs18 (or your subject title after an exam) on Twitter.

Zzzzz – Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. You may feel you need to revise late into the night but your brain will probably function better and you will feel less stressed after a good night’s sleep.

Talk – If it’s all getting too much, please talk to someone, a parent or other relative, a friend, or even a favourite teacher or your GP. Talking really can help to relieve stress.

For more information, Childline and The Mix have helpful pages on exam stress and what to do about it.

#Mental Health Awareness Week