Expert Shares Five Tips To Cope With Exam Stress

Between April 2023 and March 2024, Childline delivered 1,819 counselling sessions with children and young people related to exam and revision stress, and the highest number of contacts on these topics were received in May.

Children report feeling “drained from revising”, “lonely and isolated” and finding it hard to cope with the pressure of exams. 

Some felt pressure from parents and teachers to do well, pressure to compare their results with friends’ and some were losing sleep due to stress and anxiety. 

Counsellor Lynn Crilly supports children and their parents in this area, helping them to come up with solutions to reduce anxiety.

She said: “The first thing to remember is that feeling stress during exams is normal. It will affect most students at some point in their education. But if unmanaged it can cause irritability, sleepless nights, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.”

To help, Lynn, the author of Hope with Anxiety,  A self-help guide for those affected and their families, friends and carers,  has created a list of tips. 

It was created with the assistance of her daughter Samantha, who is in her final stages of a degree in Stage and Media.

Look after yourself – during stressful times, it is particularly important to look after yourself, after all your lifestyle directly affects your mental and physical wellbeing. A few ways in which you can look after yourself might be by taking a walk to clear your head, reading a book you enjoy, eating nutritious foods or even just taking a relaxing bath. One of the most important ways to feel your best is by getting into a regular sleeping pattern, many students can forget the importance of sleep for good mental health, getting lost in time with revision. You can set a time on your phone 30 minutes before you are due to go to bed to give you plenty of time to wind down before getting a good nights sleep.

Being organised – being organised can relieve stress. We are all guilty of thinking ‘I will do it tomorrow’, but then tomorrow comes, and you most probably forget. There is so much going on in your head with exams and revision, that it is so easy for things to slip through your mind. A good idea might be to buy a whiteboard, so you can write anything that you need to remember down. Also, being prepared for your exams the evening before helps. Try to get your bag ready, check you have everything and check exam times, doing these things the evening before means you wake up with a free and less stressful mind.

Having plans for after your exams – exams and education take up most of your younger life, so what is in store for when it is all over? Having something ready for when you finish will help to lessen the anxiety of what to do next and will refocus your mind onto something else whilst you either wait for your exam results or while you think about what the next stage in your life might be. Volunteering at a charity, or even just a part-time job will help you keep a daily routine and broaden your experiences for the future.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – exam times can be super stressful at the best of times, let alone for someone suffering from a mental illness. If you are feeling overwhelmed and struggling to complete tasks on time, speak to someone in the school/college/university who can help you, sometimes allowances can be made to give you more time to reach deadlines. If you do not let anyone know you are struggling, no one can help, so taking that first step can really help you through that stressful period.

Talk to someone – a lot of the time, there are other people around you who are feeling and experiencing the same thing as you, sometimes just talking about it and knowing that others feel the same can really help. It is always good to talk to someone you trust who will listen and support you through, even if it is a classmate whereby you can support each other through the exam period.

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