Laura Little, Learning and Development Manager at Wellbeing charity CABA talks to Country Child about coping with you or a your family members exam stress and pressure.
Exam time is looming, and with it comes an understandable amount of stress for all people involved in the process. Whether you’re a student in the process of preparing for your examinations, or the relative of a student who’s revising on the run up to exams, you may find yourself feeling the pressure of upcoming exams: either due to direct pressure, or due to the empathy and concern you feel for your family member who is going through an exam period.
Exams and tests are a constant part of life for many young students and working professionals (such as medics, accountants, or those studying for chartered qualifications), however that never makes them any easier. Many people incorrectly feel that their future can be dictated by the results of the exams they take. This can result in huge pressure as they prepare for their exams – but this isn’t where it ends. Family members can also feel the strain of exams season if they’re worrying about relatives.
So how do we best prepare ourselves, or alternatively our loved ones, for the roller coaster of exams and the countdown to results? At CABA, Laura often deals with worried students and their relatives who are looking for a way to combat the pressure of exams and ease the strain felt on both the person taking exams and their worried relatives. As a result, CABA have developed three top tips for combating stress as a family unit to keep everyone cool, calm and collected.
TAKE SOME ALONE TIME
When it’s time for exams, or when people are eagerly waiting for their results, tensions and anxiety can be high. This can sometimes result in someone acting out towards others during the exam period. If this is the case, it may be best for those taking exams to seek out some alone time – and for their family members to give them some space so they have time to breathe and decompress after their exams.
To take this to the next level, why not take up yoga? The breathing involved is an excellent way to soothe both the body and mind and the stretching can ease tired joints and generate endorphins which can help to generate more positive moods. Furthermore, regularly practising yoga and meditation has been linked to increased memory and focus, which makes it an excellent way to combat stress whilst also potentially improving the revision process. Finally, the practice promotes solitude and quiet time – which may be exactly what a student needs when they’re going through exams.
START A REWARDS FUND
Exam time can be extremely taxing, and often those studying will forget to take time out to reward themselves for all their hard work. Remember, rewards don’t have to wait until after exams! If you or a family member have been working particularly hard in an effort to do fantastically on a test, it may be time to recognise all of that hard work. By starting a rewards fund – which you can generate by adding a small sum of money each time a revision target is hit – you can create a system which facilitates the purchase of ‘small pleasures’ to keep motivation going and morale high.
Although this coping mechanism shouldn’t be over-utilised, it’s still an important one to pursue. Taking proper breaks can help to prevent burn out and stress, which will help reduce stress levels and help revision efforts in the long run. Even an act as simple as getting away for a day, can help to soothe worried minds and generate some positivity and ‘feel good’ chemicals – combining relaxation and quality time with loved ones.
SHAKE IT OFF
We all know that exercise is key to keeping a healthy body and mind. Exercise of any kind is a great way to work off excess stress and gain positive energy through the generation of feel-good endorphins. If you’re feeling particularly nervous about your exams, or you’re getting stressed on behalf of a family member, it may be time to quite literally ‘run’ away from your negative emotions.
Still, cardio isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to exercise. If you aren’t the sporty type, why not try out some more interesting ways to get your blood pumping and your mind away from exams? For example, you could try out pillow fighting to help take out your revision related frustrations – or turn revision into an active game which involves movement and helps to make studying more fun. Even going on a walk
PLAN FOR MULTIPLE OUTCOMES
No-one likes the idea of failure. However, it’s the very idea of missing the mark or not doing well on exams which leads to stress in the first place. If you plan, or help to plan for multiple outcomes, by striking up conversation with worried relatives, you can help to reduce this stress by proving that a failed exam won’t be the end of the world.
By calmly addressing all the possible outcomes of the exam - success, failure, or whatever lies in between the two – you can remove the fear of the unknown, as you or your relative will be prepared for any possible exam result. A failure is only a failure if things go terribly wrong: and if you have a plan in place for every possible outcome, then none of them can be truly disastrous or scary. This will not only help you with planning for the future, but it will help to remove the stress element of ‘what happens if…’ – helping to make everyone involved feel comfortable with exam periods, whatever the eventual outcome.