Help With Exam Stress And Test Anxiety
I have been asked many times to create a video/audio session around Exam Stress for Students and today uploaded my latest video on YouTube which you can access here.
Exams were always a major stressor for me at both school and university and to be honest I’m not sure, thinking back, how I handled the stress. I do recall the stomach problems and not doing as well as I could have done during the times I let the stress get the better of me.
Today we are much more aware of what happens in the mind and body when we get anxious and this article is to explain what causes exam stress or text anxiety, how you know your student is suffering and how you can help them.
What causes exam stress?
Exam stress or text anxiety is actually a natural reaction to extreme pressure where your body moves into a flight and fight response releasing increased amounts of adrenalin. That pressure build up can be due to:
- Inability to accept failure or uncertainty (perfectionism)
- Pessimism or negative self-talk (I can’t do this, I will fail, I’m not good enough)
- Unrealistic expectations (either of the student or the parents)
- Lack of Preparation – (disorganised, underestimate time requirements)
- Life transitions – change in routine or situation
- Family issues and/or relationship difficulties
- Financial problems
- Performance anxiety – a fear or phobic response
- Lack of quality sleep
How do you know if your child or teen is suffering from exam stress?
There are many symptoms but some of the most common are
- Getting upset easily
- Irritability (increased yelling or crying, swearing)
- Sleep issues, either getting to sleep, waking up often or waking in the morning feeling lethargic and unrested
- Indecisiveness and/or confusion
- Loss of appetite or eating when not hungry
- Mild chest pains, back pains, nausea, trembling, muscle tension, shortness of breath
- Minor stomach upsets including either diarrhoea or constipation
- Possible skin breakouts
- Increased nervous habits like tapping fingers, shaking leg, pulling hair, nail biting etc.
- Withdrawing, spending increasing amounts of time alone
Long Term Support Strategies for Your Student
One of the best things you can do, as a parent, is to offer unconditional support to your student. By encouraging your student to focus on the following areas you will help them to establish some effective study habits.
Some basic habits around study
- Set up a quiet place for them, an organised, clutter free space
- Encourage your child to seek help if they need it
- Help them plan, set a study routine
- Set realistic study times with lots of breaks
- Be there if they need you.
Healthy sleeping and eating habits
- Help them to create a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time being mindful of temperature, light and noise
- Provide healthy nutritious foods and encourage eating regularly, avoid junk food
- Keep them hydrated, lots of water – cut down on juice, soft drinks and caffeinated drinks
Relaxation through mind and body connection
- Help them to take some time out before going to bed to relax, listening to music, warm bath, reading, anything to help them unwind
- Encourage them to go out for a walk, run or do some other exercise they enjoy.
- Talk to them about relaxation techniques such as listening to some gentle music, guided meditation or hypnosis. So much stuff is available free on YouTube or google (see my YouTube channel here)
- Help your child to develop a positive mindset by encouraging them to visualise success – again many resources on YouTube to help enhance this
- Take a break, have some fun, laugh
Preparation for the day of the exam or test
Make sure your student reads through this list many times before exam day.
- Listen to Exam Stress and Text Anxiety YouTube video when you wake up (24 minutes)
- Eat a healthy, nutritious light breakfast
- Don’t rush, give yourself plenty of time.
- Keep away from those people who may be unhelpful, make anxiety provoking comments that may upset you, you know who they are!
- As you walk into the exam room take some time to focus on your breathing and get yourself settled
- Skim over the exam paper, underlining key words and instructions and work out how long they have for each question or section.
- Take your time with comprehension, make sure you are clear what the question is really asking.
- Block out what others are doing and focus on you and if you need to at any time return to your breathing
- Re-read answers if possible and make any changes that are necessary – correct spelling/grammar, check workings/formula etc.
You are now ready to embrace your next exam stress free. For more information or one on one clinic help please contact Elaine here. Enjoy