Tips for dealing with exam stress is something often asked of us at Talking Solutions. Anxiety is a normal part of life and can motivate us to work but if it feels overwhelming it will cause problems and can be counter-productive.

Controlling anxiety is possible with some practical coping strategies;

Become Aware of a racing/busy mind and noticing anxiety symptoms. We cannot change what we do not notice.

Practice Breathing: When we are anxious our breathing tends to be fast and shallow. Practice deep breathing at least 3 times per day. Breathe deep into the belly, exhale slowly through the nose. Repeat 5 times.

Grounding: practice keeping your feet against the ground. If we constantly move on the balls of our feet we can become ‘ungrounded’. Remove your shoes and keep your feet on the ground while studying.

Standing Exercise: Stand straight, head straight and eyes gently closed. Notice the weight and power of your body. Allow the whole body to be supported by the ground. Do a gentle body scan as you stand and notice any tension. Breathe deeply and release. Set timer for 3 minutes.

Shoulder Drop: Storing tension in shoulders and neck is very common. Sit straight in a chair and bring your attention to the shoulders. Imagine a balloon on a string is attached to each shoulder. Imagine the balloon is gently pulling your shoulders upwards. Raise them as high as you can towards the ears. Hold for 3 seconds then drop, quickly! Repeat 3 times.

Notice your Inner Critic:  this is the inner voice that may tell you are never doing enough. When you are caught in a loop of negative thinking; ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘it’s going to be a disaster’, it is going to impact your mood. Play detective with these thoughts: look for evidence of the opposite.

Find a mantra or affirmation that works for you:  Repetition of a phrase throughout the day that means something to you will influence the subconscious mind. For example,

  • I am doing my Best
  • This too will Pass
  • I am calm and in control

Get outdoors: Regardless of how busy you are, it is critical to get some natural light and fresh air. Spending time in nature will help destress and improve your concentration when you return to the books.

Find a ritual: it’s important to create a psychological ‘winding down’ space which helps you to relax. This could be as simple as washing your hands, practicing deep breathing, changing your clothes, or listening to music. Whatever works for you; use it every day to train the mind & body to move into a slower pace.