We all know that horrible feeling of panic, when your stomach ties itself into knots and your heart starts to race. Feeling stressed when you’re preparing for exams (or helping your child prepare for their exams) is a fact of life but, when it is left unchecked it can begin to take over, leading to loss of appetite, sleepless nights, anxiety, depression and of course – an inability to actually concentrate on school work and revision.
The good news is that with a few simple relaxation techniques in your study toolkit, you should be able to keep in control and focus on getting your best work turned in.
- Try a few simple breathing exercises
When you start to feel stressed and anxious, take a two minute break simply to focus on your breathing. Find a quiet space, away from your books and computer and inhale slowly through your nose for a count of five, focusing on pulling air into your lungs. Exhale slowly and gently, again counting to five. Repeat this exercise for three to five minutes.
- Try a few yoga poses
Yoga is a great way to distress and you don’t need to be an expert to benefit from it! There are a number of simple poses suitable for children and teens, with some schools now trialling mindfulness and yoga, you may already have tried yoga in the classroom. If not, just find a quiet spot where you have room to stretch. Try a couple of these easy yoga poses for beginners and set aside 15 – 20 minutes to practise to help you relax and beat rising stress levels.
- Go for a walk
Getting some fresh air and gentle exercise is an excellent way to fight rising stress levels and reset. If you have a dog, go for a 10-15 minute walk around the block. If not, simply wrap up and head out, popping on your headphones and a favourite playlist. If you don’t have a dog or want a different form of exercise, try jogging or a quick 15 minute bike ride to get the endorphins flowing.
- Look at what you eat
When you feel anxious and overwhelmed with school work, exams and coursework, it’s easy to load up on junk food or skip meals due to a lack of appetite. What you eat can actually contribute to feelings of stress so instead of reaching for crisps and chocolate, go for fruit, a smoothie, juice or veggies and a dip. Other little changes, such as swapping your morning bowl of cereal for porridge with a dollop of honey and some fresh berries or a sandwich for fresh soup can also help to fuel your mind and body without a sugar rush (and crash!).