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Five Top Tips to Help Beat Exam Stress

As exam season starts, here are some tips to manage your anxiety and stress.


Focusing on your breathing slows down

your heart rate, calming your nerves and mind. This exercise can be used anytime you feel anxious including in exams:

  • Slowly inhale through your nose for 2 seconds

  • Hold your breath in for one second

  • Breathe out through your mouth slowly for 4 seconds

  • Repeat for one minute (or longer if you like).

If the counts feel too short, try to lengthen your breaths. As long as you breathe out longer than you breathe in, you should feel the benefits.

Look after yourself

You have probably been told this a million times, but taking care of your basic needs is so important! Make sure you get lots of sleep, exercise, healthy food and water. Give your brain and body regular breaks from studying, and make sure you still do the things you enjoy. You will come back to revision with a lot more clarity and focus.

Try to be positive

When we are stressed out it is easy to talk to ourselves in a negative way, such as ‘I am never going to pass this exam’ or ‘I am useless’. The more we tell ourselves these messages, the more our brain will believe this is true, even when usually they aren’t.

Next time you find yourself having these negative thoughts, try to replace these with more positive ones, such as ‘I can do this’ or ‘this is just anxiety - I am going to be ok’. It may feel strange at first but your brain will start to believe these more truthful statements instead.

Put things into perspective

There can be a huge amount of pressure to do well and it can feel like your whole future depends on what grades you get. Maybe you worry about letting your teachers or parents down if you don’t get the grades you are aiming for.

Remind yourself that although it is important to take your exams seriously, ultimately there are so many different paths to a successful future, and there are also opportunities to try again if you wish to. Lots of people who have achieved success did not do well in exams at school, and this has not held them back.

Talk to someone

If you are feeling overwhelmed, try and reach out to someone you trust. This could be friends, family or teachers. Sharing your concerns can help to relieve stress and you may also find you are not alone in how you're feeling. If you are really struggling don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help, such as a counsellor, who is trained to support you through your anxiety.

If you would like more information about counselling for children and young people at Southcote, please get in touch with April Clarkley:

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