Expert / 13 June, 2023 / My Baba
Award-winning doctor and mental health ambassador Dr. Amir Khan shares his expert advice for parents on how to manage exam stress.
With so many different things to consider, knowing where to start when it comes to helping your child through an exam period can often be tricky. Now GCSE exams are in full swing, many parents and students alike will be familiar with feelings of stress and anxiety around revision and exams.
In fact, findings from a YouGov survey commissioned by Quizlet revealed that 89% of students* said the effects of exams had a substantial negative impact on their mental health. In light of this, I’ve pulled together my top tips, including utilising online learning tools such as Quizlet, to help parents support their child in the best possible way and navigate the often tricky exam period.
Dr. Amir Khan’s expert tips on how to manage exam stress
Look out for signs of stress and remain open to talking about nerves
Noticing the signs when your child is stressed is the first step before you can start to help them manage exam stress. Watch out for signs such as being more irritable than usual, headaches and stomach pains, not sleeping well, loss of interest in food or eating more than usual. These discrete signs sometimes go unnoticed but can be major signs of overwhelming stress and worry. If you do notice these signs, it’s important to encourage them to talk about their feelings. Remind them that it’s normal to feel anxious and nerves are a natural reaction to exams. We’ve all been there!
Provide the right res0ources to help them learn
You can guide your child with the right resources to help their study time become that little bit easier. Quizlet is used by over 2.5million students in the UK and hosts many methods which improve learning and can make big subjects easier to digest, making it the perfect tool for your child to master whatever they’re learning. From digital flashcards, online quizzes, and a roster of different games, Quizlet has a whole host of study tools available at your fingertips. You can even get involved in your child’s study sessions – they will appreciate the helping hand, and helping your children manage exam stress will help you will feel more involved on their journey.
Exercise is one of the best instant stress relievers you could possibly do, and can really help minimise exam stress. Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind, and minimise any feelings of stress or anxiety. Encourage your child to step away from their desk or study space every now and then; even go out for a walk with them and talk about their day. This is a great time for you to assure them that they are doing a great job, all whilst getting them moving.
Promote good sleep
Stress levels can increase when usual hours of sleep are decreased. Making sleep a priority and encouraging a good night’s sleep for your child will ensure they wake up well-rested and refreshed. Try to encourage them to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This will help to set their body’s internal clock and optimise the best quality of their sleep.
Prioritise down time
As a parent, it is important to arrange some downtime for your child in between their exams so they can fully recharge before the next test. Time away from the books will do them the world of good, and they will appreciate you more rather than forcing them to study without a proper rest. Finding the balance is crucial too. Encouraging them to do their best and knowing when to reward their efforts with a well-deserved break can do wonders.
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2076 adults of which 85 are full-time students and 1157 parents/guardians of children of any age. Fieldwork was undertaken between the 18th – 20th of November 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighed and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Article by Dr. Amir Khan.