Mental Preparation for Exams
Exam season is upon us and many young people are facing the pressure of tests. Here are some strategies for mental preparation before an exam and ways to help with the feelings of anxiety surrounding test stress.
Remind yourself that you are prepared. Revision and hard work during lessons will have given you the information that you need to know- it is now just about staying calm and applying it.
Creating mind maps or prompt cards for the key areas before the exam can act as a useful last minute visual reference, without feeling too overwhelming as the nerves begin to rise on the day.
A Calm Start to the Day:
On exam day, have a calm start. This really makes a difference to maintaining a sense of well-being and control over the day.
Small details like your bag being packed the night before, containing any necessary equipment (books, etc.), and getting up and ready in plenty of time really helps. Make sure you allow time for a healthy breakfast and if possible a walk or cycle in the fresh air to the exam destination. Mindfulness for children and adults is very powerful in starting the day positively.
Cruelty free brand Neals Yard offer stress busting aromatherapy rollers to take with you and roll on pulse points as needed.
Be Kind to Yourself:
By adopting a positive mental attitude we can challenge the fear of ‘I can’t do this,’ with ‘I can do this,’ or ‘I know this’. Repeating the positive phrase each time the negative pops into the mind can help to alter our thought patterns and take the exam on!
As human beings, we can be unkind towards ourselves when feeling worried or anxious. Encourage kindness towards yourself and praise yourself for all of the hard work and effort you have given to the studying.
This can be done anywhere to bring on a sense of calm and to aid mental preparation. Try the following reflexology points of the hand:
The solar plexus reflex promotes calm. Located below the joints of the index and middle finger, apply pressure to this area, front and back. Hold this for a few seconds, inhaling as you press and slowly exhale out as you release the pressure. Working along your hand horizontally across the finger joints as will also stimulate the diaphragm reflex point which is also very calming.
The adrenal glands work hard during stressful times so help restore balance. To locate the reflex on the hands, draw a V with your fingers down your index finger and thumb. The point should meet in the middle of the Venus mound, Press here in the fleshy, web part of the hand. To use this with breathing, inhale through your nose as you press on both sides of the hand and exhale slowly as you release the pressure.
Some people find an anxiety bracelet helpful in stressful situations.
Simply breathing in deeply (that is ensuring that you breath expands your belly) on the inhalation and exhaling slowly is calming in itself. Repeating a positive mantra whilst doing this to centre the mind and feel more positive.
By ensuring that the out-breath is longer than the in-breath, we can slow and steady the breathing and mind. Focus further by using counting during the breath. For example inhaling for 5, and exhaling for 7, or in for 7 and out for 9 (try to make the exhalation longer than the inhalation). Inhale and exhale slowly through the nose. Again, this can be done anywhere and is discreet. More breathing exercises here.
Practising the breathing, positive thinking and reflex points at calm times makes them much more easy to use when anxiety is felt, so dedicate 5 minutes once or twice a day to this. There are some wonderful Apps to help with this, try Calm , or if you have an Apple watch use Breathe.
Will meditation help me? With regular practice, mediation is a powerful way of feeling calmer and aiding relaxation. It can really clear your mind and promote positivity. Why not start a meditation journal to help you?
Relieve stress though exercise. Taking a walk, cycle or having a run releases endorphins and gets rid of some of that adrenalin that was needed to perform in an exam situation. Exercise makes us feel calmer and more positive and helps us sleep better too. Yoga is fabulous for relaxation and mental preparation. Taking a break from studying for some exercise is really worthwhile.
Sleeping well gives our brain and body a chance to rest and prepare for the next challenge. Adopt a calm bedtime routine to help promote a deep sleep, for example, have a relaxing bath, read a book, or snuggling up with a pet.
Don’t be tempted to watch television or use a mobile phone screen before dropping off as this is proven to interrupt sleep. Put your phone in a drawer or even better keep it out of the bedroom.
Using a relaxing sleep balm such as Elemis Quiet Mind Temple Balm, or Neals Yard Goodnight Pillow Mist which both aid a relaxing night’s sleep and helps us wake up feeling ready to go again. These are both cruelty free brands.
Mental Preparation Before an Exam:
All the very best of luck with the exams. Remember- your best is always good enough.