Dealing with Exam Stress
Guest blog from YoungMinds
YoungMinds are a charity that focus on mental health in children and adolescents, making sure they get the best support possible. With Mental Health Awareness Week coming up (13th-19th May) and exam season in full swing, it’s a crucial time to be thinking about mental well-being. This article outlines how students can focus on their own mental well-being and how parents can provide support for their children.
Exam season can be a stressful time if you’re a student, especially if you’re feeling under pressure from your school or family. It could even 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’re not alone.
Below you’ll find some tips on how to cope.
Let someone know if you’re struggling
If you’re finding it hard to cope with the pressure of doing well, let trusted friends and family members know so they can be there to listen to you and offer you support. Don’t keep it bottled up – this will only make things worse in the long run. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone.
Ask for help
Be honest with yourself about the practical support you need to feel prepared for the exam. Your school, college or university is there to help you, so don’t be afraid to talk through your concerns with your teachers or tutors. They will have spoken to lots of students before who are going through similar issues, and are likely to know about helpful resources or services available to you.
Try finding a study group, or start your own
Working through problems with other students can be a nice way to keep your social life going and boost your morale. It can also help you to cover more topics and gain knowledge from each other.
Keep things in perspective
It’s easy to catastrophise a situation where we may not get the grades we want. But remember, exam results do not define who you are. You have many skills and qualities to be proud of.
It can help to make a list of all the things you want from life which don’t involve exams, as this can help you realise that exams are only a small part of the picture.
Be kind to yourself
It can be helpful to write a list of all the things you like about yourself, and to think about all the things you’ve achieved so far. If you feel under pressure from people around you, like your parents or family, it could help to let them know what you feel able to achieve and that your expectations for yourself are different to theirs. You could also talk to a teacher you trust about the pressure you’re under at home.
Don’t forget to have fun, too. Exam season doesn’t mean you have to be cooped up at home or in the library all day revising – try to set aside some time to do the things you enjoy.
Tips for Parents
As a parent, it’s natural to worry about how your children are coping during times of high stress, for instance in exam season. Exams are a stressful time for any young person, and can be accompanied by feelings of anxiety and worthlessness should results day not go as hoped. All this tension can leave parents also feeling the pressure.
It’s worth preparing ways to support your child during exam weeks and thinking of how you’ll react and respond on the day if they don’t get the results they, or you, were hoping for.
The following can really make a difference:
Set aside some one on one time so they can tell you their worries, and let them know their feelings are valid and normal. Offer them support and solutions where possible, and reassure them that you’re proud of them and always will be no matter what happens
Encourage your child to take revision breaks and find a balance between studying and doing things they find enjoyable and relaxing.
Make sure they’re eating and drinking at regular intervals.
If you think it would help, speak to your child’s school about getting additional guidance with revision.
Plan a treat for after exams finish.
If you feel like your child is really struggling with their mental health over the exam period and it has started to impact their daily life, seek help from your GP or call our Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544.
For more help dealing with exam stress, visit our website at www.youngminds.org.uk/exam-stress
You can find information on coping with the stress of results day here.
If you’re a parent and you’re worried about results day, click here for more advice.