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6 Ways To Lessen Exam Stress

Exams are everywhere at the moment and it can be a really difficult time for some of you. Meic is here to help by publishing lots of helpful information over the next few weeks to help you prepare and cope. If you’re finding it really hard to cope then you can contact Meic on the details at the bottom of this article.

(This article is also available in Welsh – I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg, clicia yma)


Stress isn’t nice, it’s not helpful and it’s not particularly good for your health either. But unfortunately stress is something we all feel every now and then, especially during the dreaded exams!

Be aware of your stress levels and make sure that you seek support if they get too high, from a teacher, family member, friend or professional. But we’re here to share some of our tried and tested stress busting techniques with you and hopefully they’ll have you back to your normal self in no time.

1. Cuddle something cute

Honestly, no joke! Cuddling something tiny and adorable releases endorphins in your body that will relax you. That’s why cat cafes are becoming increasingly popular and why Universities have been setting up puppy and micro pig rooms.

Research has suggested that just looking at pictures of cute things can improve concentration levels, so even if you can’t find a real-life puppy room just scour #catsofinstagram or #instapuppy on Instagram to get your fix and spend a few minutes awwwwwing at the screen.

Lie down 6 ways to lessen exam stress

Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

2. Lie down

Napping does more than just reduce stress: it also aids in problem solving and memory recall, which can be extremely beneficial when revising.

Finding a bed during the day could prove to be a challenge though, but a growing number of places are adopting beditation: meditating while lying down (which often leads to a micro-nap until someone pokes you). The practice is all about paying attention to your thoughts and feelings while in a state of relaxation. Doing this puts distance between you and your worries, loosening their grip on you.

mindfullness stones 6 ways to lessen exam stress3. Listen to your body

Carrying on from the point above: listen to your body. If you feel like there’s a knot in your stomach or a weight on your chest then acknowledge that. Instead of trying to ignore it, lean into that sensation. Say to yourself “I feel nervous/stressed/worried, but that’s okay”. Accept the feeling instead of fighting it and it will begin to fade. If you’re particularly stressed, focus on your breathing for a few minutes.

Download a mindfulness app like Headspace or Stop, Breathe & Think that teaches mindfulness and breathing techniques to help you relax.

Revising and sitting exams burns a lot of calories so it’s important to eat. Your stomach will let you know when you’re hungry; all you need to do is listen to it. If you feel stiff: Stretch. If you feel tired: Sleep – Don’t open another can of Red Bull!

4. Take a break

Shackling yourself to your desk isn’t always the best way to revise. If you find yourself re-reading the same sentence over and over: take a break. Have a change of scenery. Go for a walk. Taking a break from something allows you to return to it with a fresh perspective.

If you’re in the exam itself when this feeling strikes: jot any notes in the margin and then turn the page. Come back to that question later.

5. Put things into perspective

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. While exams are important, in the grand scheme of things they are not the be-all and end-all. You can always re-sit them if you need to. We’re all different, and some people’s brains work well when it comes to exams, others do not. If you find exams difficult this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, and it has nothing to do with your intelligence.

Remind yourself that there are lots of successful people who never finished school or went to University.

Listen to Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen for inspiration and motivation (he’s the guy who wrote, directed and produced Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby and Romeo + Juliet)

6. Talk About It

A problem shared is a problem halved, and you can be guaranteed that you aren’t the only one who is stressing about exams. You could express yourself by talking, writing, music, art, exercise… anything that means you’re not just bottling up those worries.

There’s a number of online forums and communities where you can safely express yourself and support other students like The Student Room.

If you’re not sure where you can turn to, then Meic is always here to help. Meic is an information and advocacy helpline for children and young people aged 0-25 in Wales. We are open 8am to midnight, 7 days a week. You can contact us free on the phone (080880 23456), text message (84001) or online chat.


Here are other articles published during the Meic exam campaign. Check back again as more are added:

This Is My Exams Story

Top Tips for Exam Revision

Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Exams

Grab the Meic: Terrified of Failing My Exams

Life After Exams – Alice’s Story

Coping With Exam Results – What next?