Mindfulness and final year exam stress
It’s your final school year and you may be dealing not only with exam stress but also uncertainty about your future. If you’re aiming for college/uni then you’ll be under pressure to achieve certain grades, and if not, then you may feel lost, wondering what you are going to do next and what jobs will be available for you.
It’s a difficult stage of life and when you are in the middle of it, it can feel as if nothing will ever change and that you will feel like this forever. This is the final stretch of your school life and it also the hardest. At this stage some people can falter, believing that they do not have the stamina to continue to the end. Doubts, nerves and insecurities combine to produce stress.
So how do you know if you are stressed? Here are some common signs:
- Feeling anxious or worried or feeling that everything is hopeless
- Thinking that you won’t be able to learn and remember everything you need for the exam
- Lack of concentration and muddled thoughts
- Trouble sleeping as you can’t stop thinking about your work
- Difficulty relaxing, believing that you must be working at all times
- Headaches or migraines
- You feel tired all the time
- Your heart races and you feel panicky, or you may even have a panic attack
- If you suffer from any skin conditions these may become worse
So how can you reduce this stress and regain a sense of balance?
The first thing to remember is that your goals are now on the horizon and it is the little steps you take each day that will help you get there. Draw up a study timetable to make sure that you cover everything you need before the exam. Ask a tutor to help if you need to. This should also include some breaks. Studying for hours without any breaks can be counterproductive as you will find it difficult to concentrate.
When you are feeling overwhelmed and overloaded with thoughts, a simple mindfulness meditation may help. Focusing on the breath and allowing your thoughts to just pass without getting caught up in them can help you to feel calmer. I recommend the Insight Timer App which you can download to your mobile phone. Even doing a short meditation like the 3 Step Breathing Space can ground you in the present moment and leave you feeling refreshed.
And when those final exams do arrive and you enter the exam room with your heart racing you can use a simple breathing technique to calm yourself, see one of my previous posts: Mindfulness Toolbox – Calming