As we enter exam time for many high school, college and university students, The Spark has prepared our top tips for parents and students to cope with exam stress and nerves.
Top exam stress tips for parents
Leave the little things alone
During exam time it is ok to let things slip that otherwise would have been a cause of friction. If chores are left undone and bedrooms are messy that is ok. Not forcing your child to keep up with these things will help to provide them with time and space to focus on their revision. There will be plenty of time to catch up on housework and chores once exam time is over.
Encouraging and helping make exercise possible is very important. We all want our child to be diligent in their studies but it is not healthy for them to get in to a cycle of eat-sleep-study-repeat. Exercise releases endorphins – the body’s natural mood lifter – and helps to clear their mind and take them out of the exam pressure cooker. It can also be an opportunity for them to spend time with their friends which is also an important stress reliever. Find out more on ways to exercise.
Talk about exam stress
Gently encourage them to talk, when ready, about how exam nerves or stress are affecting them. Emphasise that such feelings are completely normal. Remind them of their hard work to date to build confidence and suggest some of the tips here to help them cope.
Students put themselves under enough pressure
All parents want their children to do well, that is only natural. However most children place enough pressure on themselves to do well without additional expectation or demands from mum and dad. Reassure them of your love and support no matter the outcome of exams and emphasise that this is not the be all and end all for them.
Help keep them healthy
Along with exercise to help keep your child out of an eat-sleep-study-repeat study cycle, keep an eye on their diet and relaxation time. Spending time revising is important but constant periods with few breaks, snack food, little socialising and exercise will not benefit their revision or exam performance. Check out this guide to health eating for teens.
Top exam stress tips for students
This is totally normal
Some degree of exam stress or nerves is a natural reaction. You want to do well and progress in your future. But you are not alone and not ‘weird’ for feeling this way. Keep the exams in perspective – this is just one step in your life journey. Not doing as well as you might have hoped is not the end of the world.
Look after yourself
It is all too easy to get into a negative habit of cramming as much study in as possible. Some students fill every waking hour with revision which is not healthy. You will only be able to perform to the best of your abilities if you look after yourself. So that means sleeping well, eating healthily (not energy drinks and fast food) and getting regular exercise. Find out more about healthy eating for your age group.
Set aside time for fun and relaxation
As part of looking after yourself, set time aside to have some fun and relaxation. Be disciplined to limit that time as it could be tempting to forget all about studying! Set time aside in your study schedule to just listen to music, get some exercise, catch up with a friend or watch a favourite TV show. Feeling refreshed, you can then return to your studying.
Talk about it
Your parents and older siblings all sat exams at some time. Your friends are likely feeling the same way you do, right now! Often we create stories in our minds of bad things that will (inevitably we believe) happen if we do poorly in exams. Many people find other routes to their chosen career that disappointing exams results did not prevent. Keep in mind the bigger picture of these exams being just one part of your life and not the only thing that will decide how the rest of your life turns out.