Exam Stress ?! This Might Help.
In Part Three of our Three Part Parenting Series we explore how families can support their young people during exam time, and the stress that comes with it!
With exam time fast approaching a number of families are reaching out to Piece by Piece Therapies seeking support in how to help their teenagers manage their stress. Year 12 can be an incredibly stressful and overwhelming time for young people. It’s their final year of formal schooling and, for a number of students, their end-of-year exams are the culmination of a years worth of studying and learning. These exams also happen to count for quite a bit. Many young people see these exams as the thing that decides the rest of their lives. We know that this is not true, but the pressure and expectation they feel can be overwhelming and result in heightened feelings of stress.
How can you help?
A really simple way to support your teenager through exam stress can be by maintaining a consistent routine at home. This might be by ensuring dinner is at roughly the same time every night; you might decide to go for a walk each afternoon after school; or you can encourage them to stick to a consistent homework time and bedtime. When feeling stressed we can often feel like our brains are ‘full’ and can’t manage any new piece of information or decision making. By maintaining a consistent routine, you are taking the decision making away and providing predictability and consistency, something worried people really appreciate.
Often young people feel like they need to be studying ‘all the time!’ though we know that this is a little unrealistic. Even if they are not studying in their rooms 24/7 they are most likely thinking about it, a lot. By encouraging them to take a little bit of time off studying each night, it allows them to have a ‘brain break’ and means they can go back to their work refreshed and ready to learn. It’s important that the relaxing activity they choose actually means they have a break and they are not sit there feeling guilty because they’re not studying. It can be helpful to remove them from their studying environment all together, suggest they go for a walk or catch up with a friend so they can completely switch off from studying, both physically and mentally!
Continue Healthy Habits
Sometimes when we’re feeling stressed we are tempted to indulge ourselves with ‘treats.’ For adults this might be a couple of glasses of wine but for young people this might mean greasy food and lying around on the couch. Often too much indulgence can leave us feeling lethargic and unmotivated. As parents and care givers we can support our children but encouraging healthy food choices and getting up and moving. During exam time it might be suggesting they take the dog for a quick walk or jumping on the trampoline. Also try and encourage ‘brain foods’ - like leafy green vegetables, fish, berries and nuts. This will support them in staying engaged and energised.
Hopefully the above tips help you and your family stay happy and sane (!) during exam time.
If you are concerned that your child’s stress is beginning to impact their mood and well-being, Piece by Piece Therapies is here to help. We have extensive experience working with young people and within schools. Please feel free to contact us should you want any additional support.