Exam period is coming up and for many kids, this is a nightmare. The pressure of studying and the fear that they will disappoint their parents if they don’t do well can lead to stress and ill health. And it’s a challenging time for parents too. So how do we help ensure our children do their best without adding to their pressure?
Here are some practical tips on how to help students bust exam stress from Ingredients of Wellness.
#1 Be there and listen.
Deeply listen to your teen. Deep listening means not needing to solve the problem, not telling them that how they are feeling is wrong, and not sharing your own experience.
#2 Consider your response.
Try and help your teen understand what stress is and how it may be affecting them; then try to help them find their own way to cope in the short term until exams are over, and in the long term, if needed.
#3 Create positive coping strategies.
Encourage regular breaks away from the books with healthy snacks and a caring ear; listening to music that makes your teen feel good; or escaping to sit in nature without headphones.
Anything that moves the body – exercise, sports or yoga – helps you to burn off some of the built-up stress roaming around the body.
#5 Mindfulness meets technology.
Try an app that offers guided mindfulness practices – teens are more likely to embrace these. Check out the list at the website below.
Angie’s Exam Day Stress Strategies
If your teens feel anxious and a bit stressed on the day of an exam, try sharing these strategies to help them relax a bit and bring their mind and attention back to the present moment. Remember, when your mind and body is relaxed, you can focus and concentrate better.
Strategy #1: 7-11 breathing
Count to 7 for your “in” breath and 11 for your “out” breath. Do this a few times and keep your attention on breathing in and out. After a few breaths, you will notice your body has relaxed and is less tense. Your breathing and heart rate will have slowed down.
Strategy #2: Hands on belly and chest
Take 3 to 6 deep breaths, keeping your attention on the “in” and “out” breath as best you can. If you find it hard to feel or sense your breath, this is okay; it can be normal when we’re stressed. Use your hand to feel the breath through the gentle movement of your chest or belly. When you can feel it, you can fix it!
Strategy #3: Tense and release
Try a tense-and-release exercise to help you get out of your head (and away from worrying thoughts) and into your body. Close your eyes and tighten your fists, forearms, upper arms and shoulders really hard. Notice the tension for a few seconds. Then breath out and let all the tension go; allow it to fall away from your arms, hands and shoulders. Do the same with your legs and toes. Do this a few times so you can really relax your body before the exam.
See more in our teens section
This article first appeared in the April/May 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue