7 ways to cope with exam stress

26 May 2023

Are you doing exams and struggling? Are your tweens and teens struggling with exam stress? Exam time can be overwhelming. Suddenly all those years of lessons, videos, books and research assignments have come to one big end point and it can feel like too much pressure.

When we feel overwhelmed our bodies go into survival mode – literally the blood surges away from the ‘unimportant bits’ and focuses on our heart, head and muscles. This can make us feel jittery, heart pounding, fuzzy head and out of breath – not the best state to be in for thinking clearly or doing exams! In Emotional Logic we call this a whirlpool of your emotions – but this whirlpool won’t pull you down – you can step out of it, and here’s how:

  1. Go to your favourite physical safe place. Close your eyes and think where do you feel the most calm, is it the woods, the beach, your bed, the bath? Try to find time to go there and DON’T take a revision book with you!
  1. Know who the helpful people are. Of course everyone wants to help but who is really going to help you relax? Try to connect with them even if it is just a few quick texts. Why not do something fun like challenge each other to a meme only conversation etc.
  1. Consider what mental state cheers you up. Do you have a favourite song which you can’t help sing along to? A favourite poem you know by heart? Do you enjoy mindfulness or meditation? Keep these in mind and call upon them when you start to feel overwhelmed. Maybe even have a list pinned near your workspace. 
  1. Use your senses – Did you know the area of your brain associated with smell is near your memory storage? Try having a smell you enjoy near you while you revise and then with you in your exam e.g. a new perfume or lavender stick (you can pop it on just before you go in or pop some on your pencil case! 
  1. Reduce distractions – Music with lyrics and rhythm can be distracting but there are good calming background noise tracks that can help to keep your mind stable as well as blocking out distracting noises such as siblings! 
  1. Tidy workspace, tidy brain – we know you don’t want to think about cleaning at the moment and that’s not what we mean. But if your workspace is organised it helps your brain to organise the information going into it. This can be as simple as stacking books when you take a break, a BIG pot for all pens and stationary or even a cork board for sticky notes instead of all over the table! 
  1. Feed your body – Have regular snack breaks and try to mix up your favourite treats with healthy ones to keep your body fuelled. Your brain will be using so much extra energy to make sure you have it ready to go! Extra trip – keep the snacks elsewhere and have a movement break at the same time! 

If it all still feels just too much, we understand. Maybe check out our Emotional Survival Kit (25% off with code EXAMS) in the shop. We also offer 1:1 support if you are struggling so contact us for a conversation about how we can help you understand your emotions and make a plan to move forward.