• Sarah Connell

Managing Exam Stress

With exam season upon us, stress levels are increasing. We have had a lot of students contact us over the last few months wondering how they can manage the negative feelings brought on by the thought of being assessed.

It can be a difficult and overwhelming time, but the great news is that there is so much you can do to help yourself through it.

Here are some of Minding Me Psychologists top tips for flying through it all.

Mindful Breathing

Most of us know that awful feeling when our mind wanders and conjures up lots of scary images of everything going wrong. You can choose not to engage with those horrible thoughts.

Instead, when you notice feelings of panic starting, pay attention to your breathing. Take deep, slow breaths and really focus as you do so. As you breathe in, say to yourself ‘this is my in breath, and as you breathe out, say ‘this is my out breath. Slow deep breaths will take your mind momentarily off your worries, bringing oxygen back to your brain so that you can think with more clarity and get back to studying.

Pay attention to your other senses

Another helpful strategy to help manage feelings of panic is to pay attention to your other senses. Look nearby for 5 things you can see, four things touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This is a really helpful grounding technique and wonderful at calming any feelings of panic.

Be Resilient

Strengthen resilience so that you can bounce back. Try to work through challenges rather than giving up. Become comfortable with unpleasant emotions like stress, anxiety etc. Don’t allow them to take over or knock you down. They are normal emotions and it’s ok to feel that way. Know that they will pass. Look back at how well you have dealt with other challenges and use this to help you this time around.

Take control.

Set clear revision goals and take decisive action that you are going to stick to them. This will help you feel more in control and well on the way to the results you want. Remember that you can choose how you feel, you’re the boss! Decide that you are going to have a positive, calm and focused attitude.


Don't be afraid to ask for support, whether that is from family, friends, a Counsellor, Teacher or Coach, do not feel like you are on your own. Talking to others can really help give you some perspective and some practical strategies to overcome challenges.

Look after yourself

Don't forget to eat well, rest well and exercise while going through this. It is so important to take care of yourself.

Look for the positives and enjoy this chapter of your life. Education is a wonderful opportunity and can help you to get where you want to. The time will go so quickly so try to make the most of it. Also remember that exam results are not everything. There are loads of very successful people out there who are flying high despite gaining unremarkable results

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