By Julie Wales, Family & Special Needs Counsellor 
A common cause of stress in teenagers I see is around exams. As it’s that time of year I thought I would highlight how counselling can be highly beneficial in helping teenagers/adults manage exam stress. Here are some ways in which I can help with exam stress: 

1. Emotional support 

Counselling provides a safe and non-judgmental space for students to express their emotions related to exam stress. Talking about their fears, anxieties, and frustrations with me can help them release built-up tension and gain emotional support. This is especially important if they are feeling bombarded by the school and/or family to achieve and obtain high grades. 

2. Stress management techniques 

I offer effective stress management techniques to help teens cope with exam-related pressure which we can practice together in our sessions. Techniques may include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, visualization, and relaxation techniques. Learning and practicing these strategies can help reduce anxiety and promote a calmer state of mind during exams. If practiced when the person is feeling calm it then feels natural to use when under exam pressure. 

3. Cognitive restructuring 

Counsellors can assist students in identifying and challenging negative or irrational thoughts related to exams. By reframing negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones, individuals can develop a more adaptive mindset, which can reduce exam-related stress. By telling ourselves that “it’s just a memory test and I am good enough without the grade…it doesn’t test my qualities and attributes of interpersonal and communication skills I am good at with people. There are always options if you don’t obtain the grades you wanted. We can look at defusing the worrying thoughts with some different ways of thinking to help let the worries go. 

4. Time management skills 

One common source of exam stress is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material to study and limited time available. I can help students develop effective time management skills, create study schedules, and prioritize tasks. By organizing their time more efficiently, individuals can feel more in control and better prepared, leading to reduced stress. Revision really doesn’t have to take hours and hours. Getting a balance of study and seeing friends really enhances self-esteem. 

5. Test-taking strategies 

Some individuals experience significant anxiety specifically related to the test-taking process. A counsellor can provide guidance on how to deal with the exam on the day, such as managing time during exams, reading instructions carefully, and answering questions that you know well first. This knowledge and preparation can enhance confidence and reduce anxiety. Our brains look to the negative and whatever we think will happen we look for. Visualisation of a positive outcome and picturing yourself doing well in the exam and acting this out on the day can be a game changer. 

6. Self-care and wellbeing 

Counselling can promote the importance of self-care and well-being during exam periods. I encourage students to prioritize activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and relaxation. Self-care enhances overall resilience and reduces the impact of stress. I can offer leaflets and various creative techniques to improve self-care. 

7. Coping mechanisms 

In counselling, individuals can explore and develop personalized coping mechanisms for dealing with exam stress. These may include engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation, seeking social support from friends or family, or utilizing healthy outlets for stress such as journalling or being creative. 
My favourite motto is that “anxiety needs a plan”. By working collaboratively with me, students can develop a customized approach to managing exam stress and improve their overall well-being during challenging academic periods. Please remember, you are so much more than an exam result! 
Share this post:

Leave a comment: 

Our site uses cookies. For more information, see our cookie policy. Accept cookies and close
Reject cookies Manage settings