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Exam Stress

Signs of Stress


Struggling to sleep

Negative thoughts – not good enough, will not pass the exams, or get the grades that you want


Constant worrying about the exams, and difficulty relaxing

Unable to enjoy anything and worrying a lot

Panic attacks or anxious feelings – sweating, dizziness, heart beating fast


Eating too much or too little

Feeling irritable and tense

Exam stress affects everyone – worrying about have you done enough, getting the grades that you want, pressure from home and school and friends…..

Coping with Stress


Writing down your worries


Calming music


Talk to an adult you can trust – parents or guardians, teachers, pastoral care and counsellors


Talk to a friend that you can trust


Take breaks – our brain can only take so much information – 1 hour revision. 15 minutes break


Treat yourself – go for a walk, go out with friends – cinema, read something non related to exams and studying, do some baking – something different from revising that you enjoy


Plan! Keep space for you in the room you want to revise in. Don’t try and do too many things at once, but also allow yourself a little flexibility


Eat healthily – we all go for sugar as we think it fuels our brain – but it gives you a high and also a big slump and no energy. Eat regular healthy meals, and the “oh so boring fruit and vegetables!” Home cooked food is best!


Exercise – get outside in the fresh air to re-energise




Self-care – know what your limits are. It’s ok if you are not the same as anyone else – comparing yourself to others will not help you feel any better – everyone is unique as to how they handle stress and how much revision they do. Everyone also remembers and learns differently to you as well


Sleep – come off social media, mobile phone etc and give yourself “me time”, and relax before going to bed and sleep. Tiredness is normal during this time – remember your brains are taking in a lot of important information at the moment and trying to retain this information as well. This will pass once you have finished and then you can sleep……..


Think positively – it will be ok and if you don’t get what you need, there are so many other options nowadays. Also, remember, we cannot get away from exams, and they are going to happen!



Be honest about how you feel – it’s ok not to feel happy and positive all the time – but it will pass. Exams only last for a few weeks

Remember – the more stressed you feel, the less revision you will do – it’s a vicious cycle – the less revision you do, the more you panic etc…

Don’t forget exam stress is normal! Be honest and recognise it when you think it is not normal.

Guide for Parents

Ensure your child eats well

Ensure they are getting enough sleep


Give them flexibility – having breaks is a good thing as it is more beneficial for them – getting out meeting friends or a walk is good


Can you help them with their studying?


Listen to them and reassure them – all you can ask of them is to do their best


Try not to add to the pressure – we know that you want them to do well and get good grades as you are concerned for their future, but being supportive and giving them encouragement, and letting them know not getting the grades is not a failure and not the end of the world!


Talk to them after each exam, and how your child thinks it went

Treat them – ask them what they would like after the exams – does not need to be expensive – they may just want to go out with their friends to the cinema and have a meal!

Brain Dumping

Brain Dumping

  Does your brain ever feel overloaded? That it wants to explode?

Do you feel frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, worried or stressed and have no one to tell and express how you feel?

Do you feel no one else will understand you?

Or that your friends and family will make you think that you are being silly?

So, then, you are concerned about telling them anything?

And, best to keep it to yourself?

And then the vicious cycle starts all over again…………….you feel overloaded…….explode…….etc

So where do you dump the “ugly stuff” in your brain? Because it can be so annoying………….

Well, if you are unable to talk to anyone that you trust – like an adult such as family, teachers, or a counsellor, or even a friend that understands you, have you considered writing? Which may help to empty your brain……………..so that you are able to dump the ugly stuff?

Like our bodies, our brains also need to remain healthy. It needs good nutrients from healthy eating….

And also exercise – yes exercise! You ask, how to do you exercise the brain?   





  Well, puzzles, games…. challenging it at times….learning new things through school, reading, but not to the point that you exhaust it, because even our brains need to rest and have some sleep, to be able to function the next day!

So, let’s go back to the writing then!

Everyone likes to write differently – some like to write letters to people, some like to write down their thoughts and feelings, some write as a diary form and what they have done. You could also keep it as a record, as to how your sleep was, how do you feel in the morning, refreshed, tired etc, what you ate- good and bad, loss of appetite, overeating, or normal. There are many ways to help yourself – here are a few examples –

Time I woke up –

How do I feel this morning –

How was my sleep –

What did I eat –

What happened today –

What made me happy –

What made me sad –

My friends –

My family –



Dear …..

I wish/I feel because…..


Scaling how you feel –

0 to 10 – 0 being not good and 10 it has been a fantastic day – and the reasons why

It is your writing so do it the way that you feel comfortable.

What do you do with the writing – would you like to share the information with someone? Would you like to keep it to yourself? Would you like to tear it up in small pieces and throw it away? Your choice !

Hopefully this gives you some ideas, to help process what is going on for you in a safe way and place !

Help… I Have Worms In My Head


I have worms in my head

Sometimes, do you ever wonder why you cannot get that niggling thought out of your head?

The same thought, over and over again – almost like a little worm, that sits in the dark depths of your brain, and once in a while it rears it squiggly ugly head up, and then can’t find its way back down again? A bit like that really annoying song, that keeps on playing in your head over and over again?? (Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, because I’m happy …….that is so annoying!!!!)

Sometimes the thought can also be a person – hey and guess what? People can also be annoying too!

Annoying isn’t it? That’s enough about the word annoying now……

Sometimes, when we can’t control these thoughts, it can disturb our sleep, or stop us from focusing and revising for that all important exam. We have difficulty shutting off and think of the worst thing that can happen to us, and it runs at 100 miles per hour

Then when it gets too much, we may try to block it out in unhealthy ways, and this could lead to low mood, or depression or anxiety symptoms such as racing heart, sweating, breathlessness – and sometimes it just gets too much that we need to talk to someone about it.


Let me explain this in another way –

Number 1 – Our body is a tank and sometimes we just fill that tank with lots of unhealthy snacks (or thoughts!) – Such as too much junk food such as burgers, fried chicken, pizza, cake etc. And then our body begins to feel a bit rubbish, and this food can come out in unhealthy ways – vomiting, diarrhoea, farting, burping (get the picture?).

We then think, “I must eat healthier food, so that I begin to feel better (better thoughts). When we fill our tank up with at least 80% good stuff, then when we eat the “not so good stuff”, our tank will be able to cope and manage without feeling so overwhelmed, as we have the space in our tank!

In other words, when the not so good days come, we will be able to cope better.

Number 2 – Imagine our brains are sponges – because our brains take a lot of information in. Put a sponge into a bucket of water. Now, the sponge can only take so much water, before it becomes too full and leaks out. We then have to dry the sponge out, so that it is able to soak up more water. A bit like our brains, when we become too overloaded, we need to take a break and switch off, before allowing ourselves to take more information in.

Makes sense?

Don’t forget, we are not born or designed to be happy all the time – we will have boring, mundane, unhappy and very difficult times as well, but we just must try our best to cope with them, with some help, if need be.

Well, guess what – you can do something about it, so I hope that this quick fact sheet below can help you…..

(ps – you can always give your worm/thoughts a name! I quite like squirmy…..but you can call it something nicer or whatever you would like, for example slimy, muddy, poo drops – ok going too far now….).


Here are my top tips to help you –

Writing – not a diary as such but a thoughts and feelings journal – put pen to paper – doesn’t matter what your writing looks like, what words you use, or if you draw or scribble – be honest – it’s yours and no one else’s. Imagine that you are on the motorway full of congestion, and you know that you are coming off the next exit into the countryside, and it’s a relief – writing will help to clear that congestion, and hopefully, eventually, be a relief for your mind.

Talking to a friend – someone that you can trust – who will not break your confidence!

Talking to a trusted adult eg a teacher – that’s what they are there for – to guide the younger person!

Talking to a counsellor – if you can access one. They are there to hear what you are really saying and help you to help yourself

Keeping a happy journal – you will have good days as well! Write these down, as a reminder that not all days are bad. Or keep a big jar, and write down the good days and the date it happened. Then on New Years Eve, open it up, and look back at the amount of days that were brilliant.

Working through setting boundaries – get a big (I mean big!) sheet of paper and write down what you are happy with or will accept or are ok with, and the opposite as well. And put these into practise.

Deep breathing (I know that old cliché – but it works!!) deep breath in, and long breath out – preferably sitting down, as you really don’t want to pass out….Your muscles will relax, as when deep breathing there is absolutely no way you will remain tense! Or, imagine that your whole body is wobbly like a jelly – that could work too!

Social media….the do’s and don’t’s – set yourself a time limit on how much time your spend on your phone/ipad/laptop etc. If someone is upsetting you on social media – BLOCK THEM! SIMPLES! Or come off the app! Switch it off at least an hour before bedtime, and chillax……………….zzzzz

Get a jar, box or something similar and write down certain scenarios that have troubled you, and then write down how you coped/dealt with it. When you come across a similar situation, dig it out and remind yourself what worked for you. Different things work for different people!


I hope this helps in some way…….

Don’t forget that there are numerous apps you can use and phone lines that you can call as well if you need any further help:



NSPCC and CHILDLINE helpline 0800 1111 – this number will not show up on your mobile phone bill!



Help… Too hot to handle!



Help ……

Too hot to handle!


Ok, so who does not get angry? What? Never? Seriously???

Who doesn’t want to sometimes just swear at someone? But has to bite their tongue?

Or, wish they could just punch someone, because their buttons have been pushed a little tooooo much?

Yep! I’ve been there! It is ok to have thoughts, but actions can have different and not so nice consequences.

So, what can we do?

Imagine this………

Calm – Hey I am cool and everything is brilliant, and nothing can upset me, and I can deal with whatever comes my way.

Distressed – ok, I can go and talk to someone, and get things off my chest and everything will be ok. Take some time out!

Annoyed/ Upset – when you reach the annoyed / upset stage, you may still be able cool yourself down fairly quickly, by talking to a friend or a trusted adult. Find solutions to the issues. Beyond that can be fairly difficult!

Furious – this may be the point where to have to take a long walk to cool yourself down, and remove yourself from a situation – talk to someone, and try to calm down to express how you feel, once you are more calm.

Anger – If and when you reach the “anger” stage, take a physical step back!

Well, you ask, how can I stop my anger beast before it goes too far?


Here are a few pointers that may help you –


  • Physically – take a step back.


  • Remove yourself from the situation if you can.


  • If possible, think of the situation as the third person, and watch yourself from the outside.


  • Choose your fight – is it worth it?


  • Process the anger, safely, such as boxing, running, or another physical activity, or talking to an adult e.g. parents/guardians, teachers/counsellors.


  • Do some writing, thoughts and feelings, release your anger onto paper, and throw the paper away, screw it up, shred it, or burn it – safely!


  • Try to think before speaking, as you can never take back what you have said.


  • To avoid criticising or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you spoke to me this way and called me a nasty name”, instead of “you called me a nasty name and I hate you”.


  • Don’t hold a grudge – easier said than done! Forgiveness is powerful, if you allow anger or negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings; you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness – as Buddha said “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”.


  • Use humour to help diffuse a situation.


  • Relax! Deep breathing, meditation, music, stretches, writing etc. – all these can help.




Remember – stay cool! And I hope this helps in some way.