It’s normal for anyone to feel a degree of stress if they have to sit an exam or take a test. Stress is our bodies normal response when we find ourselves in situations where we feel under pressure. Small amounts of stress can be good for us, as they help to motivate us and keep us focused on what we need to do, and what we want to achieve.
Sometimes however, it can feel overwhelming, particularly for children and teenagers, especially those with special educational needs or existing mental health conditions. Academic anxiety increases with age, recent surveys show that almost a third of parents say their child had suffered poor sleep. One in ten said it had affected their child severely and nine per cent said they had sought healthcare advice because of their concerns.
Whilst it can be difficult sometimes to recognise signs of stress or anxiety, as children and young people often don’t feel able to discuss their feelings, common symptoms can include:
- Poor appetite and/or sleep
- Mood changes
- Headaches and stomach upsets
- Over studying and refusing to take breaks or not wanting to study
- Becoming over critical of their progress or mistakes
- Not wanting to attend school or college
There are several things you can do to help lessen your chances of getting stressed before taking exams. First of all make a plan, especially if you are taking more than one exam. Write down the dates of all your exams so that you can work out how much time you have to study for each subject.
Consider joining a study group as this can help you keep motivated and feel like you have support from your peers when you need it.
Remember to take regular breaks as they will help you to stay focused and keep your energy levels up. Avoid being tempted to use social media apps on your phone during breaks, in fact taking a short walk in the fresh air would be more beneficial.
Always listen to your body, avoid over studying or missing meals and keep hydrated to avoid headaches. People often get particularly stressed right before, or just after an exam. They can group together chatting and fretting about what’s about to happen, or how they think they have done. Try and avoid their company as their feelings of stress can transfer to you, find somewhere quiet and calm to sit to gather your thoughts.
Finally, if your stress is having an adverse effect on your physical or mental health then you should speak to someone about it. Whether you confide in a friend, family member or a member of staff at your school, college or university, it doesn’t matter as long as you share with someone how you’re feeling.
If you go to see your doctor they might suggest you try antianxiety medication to help you manage your symptoms during exam time. They could also suggest you try therapy, which can help you manage your stress and anxiety and help you stay focused and motivated. Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK). For more free Information click above link.