Beating The January Blues Of Exam Stress: How You Can Help 

 10 January 2022

By  Karen Cruise

While January can feel like hard work for many after a festive break, you may notice teens are more stressed than usual at this time of year.

January is the time of mock exams.

While this exam ‘dress rehearsal’ is designed to take the stress away and help students feel prepared for exam season, it can feel overwhelming, stressful and challenging.

Exams, whether mocks or real, can be super-stressful for teens and young adults.

However, with uncertainty over exams in the wake of the pandemic, exam stress has risen with some alarming stats:

  • 85% of students feel stressed and anxious about exam changes
  • Female students are more test anxious than male students
  • 81% of school leaders worry about the mental health of students during the exam period
  • ChildLine experiences a huge uptick in calls during exam seasons
  • 15% of GCSE students are highly test anxious.

With anxiety levels high, you may see your child experiencing a range of stress symptoms which include:

  • Sleep issues
  • Feeling rundown or poorly
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Suffering from headaches/tummy aches
  • Being irritable or annoyed
  • Low mood and energy levels
  • Erratic eating.

If your child is struggling with January exam stress, there are things you can do to help.

Five Tips To Help Teens With Exam Stress

1.     Stay Calm

Teens are incredible at picking up on the energy at home.

It can be difficult when stress is in the air, but staying calm and supportive can help your teen relax.

During exam season, you may want to help lessen their load.

Perhaps this means refraining from commenting on the state of their room and letting them off some of their chores/responsibilities.

The more you can do to create a calm, comfortable energy at home can make all the difference.

2.     Build A Reflective, Rewards-Based System

As we move into adulthood, we often neglect to celebrate or reflect on our achievements.

Creating a rewards system can help the stressed-out teen measure their progress and see how their hard work is celebrated.

For example, you could look at small rewards after revising that can keep motivation up, mini-rewards after exams and a treat at the end of exam season.

This can be an excellent way to encourage your teen to celebrate progress, hard work and commitment to goals.

3.     Encourage Exercise

Locking themselves in their room to revise all day and night is no way to revise.

Try to encourage exercise every day to help clear their mind and relieve stress.

According to ChildLine, the pressure at home makes teens feel more anxious around exam season.

You can alleviate that pressure by encouraging a healthy study/life balance.

Giving permission and encouragement to go out and play football, go for a bike ride or head out roller-skating with their mates may be just what your child needs to have a break, embed the knowledge so they can come home and study feeling refreshed.

4.     Be Their Cheerleader

All parents want their child to do well, but this pressure of needing exam success to please parents and the family can increase exam anxiety in teens.

Instead, consider how you can reframe what you say regarding exams. It may be that you look at praising their revision timetable, focus and commitment rather than the exam result.

What lights your teen up, and where does their confidence come from? Use this to motivate, encourage and support your teen through exam season to alleviate anxiety.

5.     Talk About It

It is easy to nag about revision when it looks like your teen isn’t taking it seriously, but it might be that anxiety, fear, or stress is getting in the way.

Opening the dialogue about how they’re coping with pressure may help remove revision blocks.

If you’re looking for ways to talk about exams with your teen without door slamming, apply for a free consultation call.

By the end of the call you will have received information that will start the journey to finding a solution.

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Karen Cruise - The Young People's Life Coach

Karen isn’t only an experienced, accredited coach, she’s also a hard-working mum with many years of employment in the corporate world, the last 10 at a very senior level. She’s been described as dynamic, intuitive, unstoppable when it comes to helping young people live their best lives. You’d be hard-pressed to find to a CEO more committed to helping your child succeed.

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