Three wellbeing secrets for exam success: Body. Breath. Belief

Family Support Assistant Mrs Giordano pens this wonderful piece that gives advice on how to deal with exam stress

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

During this time of year, exams can bring heightened emotions for students. Even when students feel academically prepared, their emotional wellbeing can play a huge part in their overall success. A certain amount of stress is natural and can sometimes help to encourage our focus. However, when this becomes overwhelming it can negatively impact our exam success and our health.  Alongside eating well, exercise, fresh air and getting enough sleep, here are 3 techniques which may help students to thrive during this time. Plus, let’s not forget this can also be a stressful time for parents too as you endeavour to help your child, so these tips may be of benefit to you too!

1) BODY – Tension vs relaxation: Becoming aware of sensations in our body can help us notice signs of stress and prompt us to relax those areas with movement or massage.

Activities: Do a scan of your body now, noticing any sensations you experience. Are you holding onto tension, especially in your stomach, shoulders, jaw, forehead? Could you soften your muscles here?
Try gently squeezing and releasing your muscles progressively throughout your body, starting with your feet, moving up to your head and notice the difference between tension and relaxation.

2) BREATH – Breathing space: Our breath is a wonderful tool that we can utilise to change how we feel and is something that is with us wherever we go.

Activity: Try inhaling deep into your abdomen for the count of 4, then exhaling slowly and gently for the count of 8. Do a few rounds of this and see if you can feel the calming difference in your body. This also has the added benefit of giving our minds a break from ruminating thoughts, helping us to feel grounded, changing our focus and in turn being able to think more clearly.

3) BELIEF – Be kind to yourself

If we believe in ourselves, we are more likely to achieve our best. Can you show yourself the same kindness and compassion that you would a friend?

Activities: Stick positive notes of encouragement where you will see them to give you a motivational boost to keep going. Each day try to find one thing that went well for you. Even when we have had a difficult day, or things haven’t gone to plan, try to find at least one positive moment, giving you energy to continue and begin afresh the next day. What we practise grows stronger.

Useful resources:


Apply for a place