I always say my daughter is an extension of me. She is highly emotional, too hard on herself and crumbles over small things. I used to cry after a bad exam, not even knowing what the results would be. I would be kicking myself and stressing over things I couldn’t change. Exam stress is very real. Now I have to do what my mother used to do for me. Calm my daughter down and remind her that ‘IT’S JUST AN EXAM’. Here are simple ways you can help you on how to deal with exam stress.
1. GOOD NUTRITION
Food is vitally important during revision. We start off each day with a green smoothie. Too much sugar, coffee and other junk can cause unproductive highs, followed by even worse lows. Fill the cupboards with fruit and veg, maybe stop stocking the fridge with easily obtainable chocolate and other sugar highs. Cut down on the amount of fizzy drink in the house and encourage them to drink plenty of water. There’s no need to go on full lock down on snacks, but if the cupboards and fridge aren’t as inviting then they’re less likely to be stuck in a daily sugar slump.
It’s no secret that I’m an exercise freak. Physical exercise releases endorphins – the body’s natural mood lifter. This helps to clear their mind and take them out of the exam pressure cooker. You can play a vital role in encouraging and making exercise possible. For example going to gym with them riding a bike or just going for a walk around the block. Help them put together a study schedule that includes regular breaks for exercise and encourage them to maintain attendance at sporting clubs or groups.
3. OPEN COMMUNICATION
Encourage your children to talk, when ready, about exam nerves. How are they feeling? What pressure are they putting on themselves to deliver certain results? Emphasise that such feelings are completely normal and to be expected. Remind them of their hard work to date to build confidence and suggest they shouldn’t sweat small stuff. Chores can be ‘forgotten’, exams are more important.
4. FINDING THE PERFECT STUDY PLACE
Somewhere quiet, organised, and with minimal distractions.Help them create a study plan, and break their goals into small chunks, with clear, achievable goals. Create a study timetable together, which includes breaks and times to relax and socialise. When they are hitting the wall, take them out of the house and let them study at the park.
5. USE A HOBBY TO DISTRESS
My daughter discovered knitting. What a blessing this has been in our lives. It keeps her calm and we find that she can concentrate better after taking a knitting break. Sometimes taking that hour off actually refreshes them, and focus is maximised this way. They need to find their own coping mechanisms because we are not always going to be there as parents.