Help Them Over Exam Stress

Posted on: 06 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Although this is a very stressful time of year there are various things that students and their families can do to relieve stress.

May is a tough time for students whether they are taking their GCSE's, A-Levels or degree finals. Each individual student approaches the exam period in different ways, but how does your child cope?

We have advice to beat stress and to channel all the worry and anxiety into positive actions to make sure exams are passed with flying colours.

A Remedy For Every Child

The Worrier
Some kids find it hard to work for exams because they are so worried about failure or the test itself. They end up spending their time thinking the worst instead of constructively revising. Try Bach Original Flower Remedy Mimulus to curb these fears and help them face exams.

The Daydreamer
This child can do well, but often finds themselves distracted by anything and everything. They spend too much time thinking about anything other than their school work, Bach Original Flower Remedy Clematis can help them focus on the task in hand.

The Self-Doubter
It is easy to feel a lack of confidence in the lead up to exams, it can sometimes spur us on to work harder, but if someone is feeling really low about their abilities, try Bach Original Flower Remedy Larch to give them a confidence boost.

The Over-Worker
This may not seem like a problem, but there should be balance in a child's routine and there is such a thing as too much revision, so try Bach Original Flower Remedy White Chestnut to help him or her to switch off after a long day poring over books.

The Over-Confident
The over-confident student is in danger of not preparing enough as they feel they don't need to, but they shouldn't count their chickens! Try Bach Original Flower Remedy Vine if they feel it's already in the bag and don't need to prepare.

Every Student
All students get stressed in the lead up to important exams, especially on the day, so use Rescue Remedy to help restore some inner calm and manage daily stresses. For support before the exam itself, add four drops of Rescue Remedy to your child's juice in the morning.

Flower Power
Bach flower remedies were developed by Dr Edward Bach in the 1930s. The 38 individual Bach Original Flower Remedies are a simple, safe and effective way to help promote emotional well-being. Rescue Remedy is a combination of five flower remedies and is world-famous for quickly restoring inner calm and managing daily stresses. Always read the label.

Food & Drink

  • Eat regular healthy meals.
  • Always eat breakfast - include slow release carbohydrate such as porridge. A three hour exam is a long time to be running on an empty stomach and this plus anxiety can cause sickness.
  • Sugary food and white bread raises blood sugar quickly but it falls fast too which can lead to drowsiness and poor concentration. If you have to eat sweet things try to stick to honey or chocolate. Synthetic chemicals such as artificial sweetener might contribute to stress.
  • Avoid sugary fizzy drinks and drink plenty of water to ensure your body is well hydrated. Limit the drinks with caffeine which can make you hyperactive, shakey and anxious. If you're so tired that you're drinking coffee to help you stay awake, it's time for a nap.
  • Lunch could include a wholegrain sandwich with tuna or salmon that is high in omega-3-fatty acids, good for concentration.
  • Calming foods include milk - which contains opiates - mashed potato, bread, baked beans, lettuce and other raw vegetables.
  • Be aware of the effect alcohol, smoking and drugs may have on your anxiety levels and concentration. Give them a miss.

Work, Rest & Play

  • Be organised by planning your work programme and leisure.
  • Try and work to a routine. Preparation is everything, so plan your revision period by drawing up a chart and see how you can best use your time.
  • Develop a timetable allowing breaks for relaxation and fun to avoid burn out. Don't work too late in the evening, factor in some time for relaxation, listening to music, seeing friend or watching television.
  • When revising, only surround yourself with the material relevant to the next exam - keep clutter at bay.
  • Instead of staring at your notes, revise actively by summarising your notes, converting the information into flow-charts and diagrams, engaging in revision quizzes with friends, and so on.
  • Try and get some fresh air every day.
  • Plan breaks to include exercise, even if it's taking the dog for a walk or sport. Regular moderate exercise can reduce any feelings of stress and give you an energy boost to help with concentration and help with any sleep problems.
  • Laugh - it's a really good way of letting out tension.
  • Relaxation exercises or listening to music can help you to feel calm.

Unwind The Mind

  • Try and avoid conflict especially at home - many parents unwittingly give 'good' advice but it's not always useful.
  • Often those who become most distraught are the brightest, most ambitious students who have set themselves such high expectations and are fearful of not achieving their goals. No one is perfect. Have realistic expectations and keep things in balance. Aim to do your best and believe in yourself.
  • Develop a positive mental attitude. Students who think about failing are more likely to fail.
  • Keep things in perspective. These are your first important exams and may seem like the most important thing right now, but in the grander scheme of your life ahead they are only a small part. Remember in two months time, exams will be over and you will be able to enjoy the summer.
  • Talk - talking about fears and worries to someone you trust and who can give you support often helps relieve anxiety so communicate with your family or friends. Male students are significantly less likely to access support than their female class mates as they find it difficult to admit they need advice and are less likely to talk about their feelings. Don't be frightened to ask for advice.
  • If you are feeling ill get medical help, and talk to the school or university. If it all gets too much then contact your GP.


  • End the day with a warm bath.
  • Try to get plenty of sleep, as a rested brain will work better.
  • If sleeping is difficult lavender oil is often useful either in a bath or a small amount placed on a tissue under a pillow.

More Information

Bach Original Flower Remedies retail at £5.95 for 20ml, go to for more information. Rescue Remedy comes in a convenient spray and dropper available in 7ml, 10ml and 20ml bottles. A cream and pastilles format are also available and prices start at £4.95, go to for more information. They are available from Holland & Barrett, Boots and most independent chemist and health food stores.

Local health service websites: - Suffolk Primary Care Trust - Warrington Primary Care Trust

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