Exam Stress Support

Reducing barriers to learning.

School stress

With the stress of exams and revision having an increasingly detrimental effect on many young people, YoungMinds Vs has launched its 2015 School Stress Campaign.

Download the 2015 School Stress Campaign Pack here.

ChildLine carried out 3,077 counselling sessions about exam stress to young people last year, a rise of 9 per cent on 2014/15. There was also a rise of 20 per cent of concerns about exam results, with 1,127 counselling sessions compared to 2014/15.

Major themes include:

  • not wanting to disappoint their parents
  • fear of failure
  • general pressures linked to academic achievement

Stresses about exams can affect young people’s ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression and tearfulness and eating disorders. In some cases it also led to self-harm and suicidal feelings.

ChildLine has launched a new video featuring advice and tips aimed at helping children and young people cope with exams.

'Six Tips to Managing Exam Stress' is available on ChildLine's YouTube channel and is part of a series dedicated to exam season. They also have a free downloadable leaflet on the topic.

Story as therapy

‘We dream in narrative, day dream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticise, construct, gossip, learn, hate and love by narrative.’

Hardy, 1968

Chill Skills for KS1/2

  1. Fizzy Lemonade - Jump up and down or shake your body as fast as you can for as long as possible. Now, stop and feel your body fizzing like lemonade. This exercise helps children feel the energy in their body and helps them to notice the difference between moving and relaxing.
  2. Thumb Massage - Hold your left hand with your right hand, placing your right thumb in the middle of your left palm. Very gently, stroke and circle your thumb around your palm. You can do this whenever you are feeling anxious or stressed.
  3. Icy Breaths - Imagine you are blowing on a cold window. Take in a deep breath, open your mouth and breathe out very slowly and steadily. Can you see how misty the window is? Repeat. This exercise is to help you control your out breath to help you feel relaxed.
  4. Tension/relaxation - Imagine you are holding something precious and you don’t want to let go. Clench your hands as tight as you can and then relax them. Repeat. This helps children understand the difference between tension and relaxation.
  5. If you're sitting, place your arms on the chair arms - If you’re sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you’re in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
    • Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
    • Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
    • Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five. You may not be able to reach five at first.
    • Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from one to five again, if you find this helpful.
    • Keep doing this for three to five minutes.

Explore more ideas here.