How do I relieve stress?

I've just started my AS-levels and I’m already dreading the exams I’m going to have to take. Whenever I have to take an exam I get really stressed; I can't concentrate and I think I'm going to fail. How do I get through the next two years if this is the way I react to exams?

Feeling anxious or stressed before exams is very common. Stress is your body’s way of preparing you for the big day. While some stress can be motivational and used to your advantage it appears your stress is overwhelming you, causing you to lose focus on your studies.

Try not to worry — there are steps you can take to manage stress, for example you could:

  • Try to wind down. For example, by relaxing in a warm bubble bath, listening to soothing music and shutting out the world for a while.
  • Take time for your mind and body to relax. Methods can include reading, meditation and yoga.
  • Take time to exercise. Regular and frequent exercise is a good stress reducer.
  • Eat well, skipping meals will deplete your energy and leave you drained.
  • Talk to your family and friends. Make time to see your mates, it will help you unwind and let you unburden any problems.
  • For more tips read our Coping with stress factsheet.

It’s important to allow yourself time to relax as well as have perspective on exams; having a balance of revision and a social life will help you do this. Taking regular exercise will also help you to de-stress. According to Mind, exercise “can help you sleep better, reduce tension levels, feelings of stress or fatigue, and give you more energy. And these are changes that can happen straight after a session – particularly if the activity is moderately intensive”.

You might also find it helpful to talk to your teacher or tutor about the stress you’re experiencing; they may be able to come up with some suggestions about how to ease the load. Talking to close friends or family about your exam stress can also help, if they know how you’re feeling they can support you more effectively.

You mention that when you’ve taken exams in the past that you have experienced some symptoms of stress, however some of the symptoms you describe could be indicative of a panic attack. Mind describes a panic attack as, “an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement”. If you think you may have experienced some form of panic in the lead up to exams, it would be a good idea to speak to your local doctor (GP) who may be able to suggest suitable ways for you to unwind or some form of talking therapy.

Answered by bss on 25-Sep-2012

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