With only a few weeks to go, maintaining maxiumum mental health rather than max mental power is crucial. Here’s how to hold it together.
Soon tens of thousands of teenagers across the UK will be sitting their final GCSE and A-level exams, sending anxiety levels soaring. According to Childline, exam-related stress sparked an 11 per cent increase in calls from anxious children. And a poll conducted by the BBC found nearly a quarter of British parents said their own mental health had been affected by the pressure of their child’s exams.
So, what can families do to relieve the tension? Here, education expert and Director of Academic Summer, Helen Lami, offers her top tips on how to make the exam period as stress-free as possible.
1. Don’t be a pushy parent
Having the support of parents during exams is essential for children. However, at this late stage, it’s important that you don’t become too pushy with your child and pile on unnecessary pressure. It’s been proven that stress has a negative impact on memory functions. So, be available, be helpful and be encouraging. But never pushy.
2. Give mindfulness a try
Mindfulness meditation is an extremely effective way to relieve anxiety, especially during exam time. If you’re not familiar with how to do it, there are many videos online which will show you the basics. Simple mindfulness techniques take just minutes and can be picked up almost immediately. It can also be done together so both you and your child share in the relaxation.
3. Make time for play
Exam periods shouldn’t be all about work and no play. According to research, focusing too much of our time on work actually makes us less productive. At Academic Summer, we’ve long known the benefits of a balanced approach to studying. So, along with the courses we offer, we also arrange activities and days out for students. Parents should find time over the coming weeks to do the same, even if it’s just taking them to the cinema or shopping for an hour or two – anything that will give them the opportunity to take their mind off studying.
4. Nutrition and sleep are key…
It’s very likely that a large proportion of students will be staying up late in the nights before exams to cram their revision. This might actually make it harder for your child to get a good resultand could harm their mental healthas well.To counter this, get the family into a healthy routine that will help everyone to sleep better. Cut out caffeinated and sugary drinks in the evening, eat a healthy and nutritious dinner before 7pm and stop all revising and work two hours before going to bed.
5. …and so is exercise!
This one might be the most important of all. If you want to quickly relieve stress for you and your child, there’s probably no better way of doing it than getting out and doing some exercise. Swimming for example is one of the best activities for controlling anxiety. There’s also evidence that not only does exercise relieve stress, it also helps memory retention and boosts concentration.
READ MORE: The Bonus Benefits of Yoga for Youngsters