Feeling anxious about exams is normal. But sometimes those nerves can get in the way, rather than help. Everyone is an individual and we all react to stress in different ways.
Some signs of stress are:
- Worry a lot, about anything
- Get lots of headaches and tummy pain
- Not be able to get to sleep, or wake up in the night
- Be grumpy and quick to anger
- Eating habits changes – eat more or less than usual
- Seem negative or hopeless
- Stop enjoying activities they used to enjoy
What can we do the help manage anxiety:
- Keep calm – keeping calm yourself is probably the most vital. I often find having a few appointments with parents is highly effective as they can then ensure a calm house. We have mirror neurons in our brain which can change our mood to match whomever we are with, so nervous parents = nervous kids, calm parents = calm kids
- Listen – having someone to talk to is important, someone who will really listen and help children keep things in perspective.
- Eat properly – avoid children eating high sugar, high fat food and drink, these give general moods peaks and dips……so in a situation with already sensitive mood it exaggerates that.
- Get enough sleep – sleep is vital for our mental and physical wellbeing, it can take a few nights of sleep to transfer what we have studied from our short term to our long term memory, so a good bedtime routine is particularly vital when studying.
- Be cautious about social media groups that ‘support study’ – being constantly bombarded with comments about other peoples stress, pains, problems will initiate mini fight/flight/freeze responses in your own brain which increases your anxiety – sadly the opposite of the intended ‘support’.
- Get exercise – any sort of exercise will release serotonins and endorphins which are chemicals that lift the mood. Exercise outdoors if at all possible, being close the nature is proven to lift mood.
- Encourage – when we are anxious we tend to limit our immediate emotions to anxiety, anger or depression, be patient with your children, be patient with yourself. Don’t criticise, don’t add to the pressure – let a grumpy comment go, ignore the messy bedroom. Give lots of hugs, a hug will release dopamine, another fantastic feel good hormone.
- Whats been good – add this question to your child’s bedtime routine, ‘tell me 5 good things that happened today?’, it puts them in a good frame of mind for sleeping. If they cant think of any tell them what your 5 good things are, from a beautiful sunset, to a kind driver letting you out on a busy road – it doesn’t have to be anything major.
- Talk to your child – there is an evolutionary advantage to remembering the bad things, but no advantage to remembering the good things, so we need to deliberately call them to mind. Create quiet times in the week to reminisce about good memories, sprinkling your conversation liberally with memories of how amazing your child is. Remind them in casual conversation of awesome things they have done, awesome things they are capable of.
Hypnotherapy is a common method used for helping control exam nerves as it can help boost confidence and reduce feelings of anxiety. It can help you develop the ability to access the calm state of mind needed to sit an exam, or cope with a potentially overwhelming situation.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can encourage an individual to clear their racing mind and approach the exam with a cool, focused head. Your mind knows the information you need to pass the exam, but when experiencing exam stress or anxiety, your ability to focus and concentrate will suffer. A calm mind will help you recall the information more easily, as well as help restore your self-belief.