GCSE’s are looming for thousands of year 11 students around the country, meaning that pressure is building up, stress is ever present and the number of hours of sleep per night is decreasing. With students taking from 6 or 7 GCSE’s to some even attempting 12, every single 15 to 16 year old teenager is experiencing some form of exam stress. And this is not good. Stress has a number of negative impacts of the body, as well as the mind, so here are some tips to anyone preparing for exams, interviews, or just suffering from everyday work stress.

Firstly, stress usually comes from four places. And if we try to eliminate sources of stress or pressure, the amount of stress and pressure should decrease. Parents, school, your peers and classmates, and yourself. So it’s almost impossible to stop your overbearing parents from suddenly letting you breathe for yourself, or getting the school to back off your grades. But you can definitely change your own attitude, and also what you’re surrounding yourself with, as well as how you perceive that attitudes of your peers.

One of the best ways of relaxing for me, is exercise. Obviously, it’s not very fun to be getting up at 6 am for a run every morning, but there are ways of exercising in enriching and exciting ways. Playing team sports can help take your mind off studying and instead put your focus into winning that one basketball match, or beating your friends in a dodgeball game. Almost immediately, both your mind and your body will feel refreshed and lightened, even though you’re now sweaty and feel a bit disgusting. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain, or as I call them “smiles”. They make you feel better and can just allow you to take a moment away from how to rationalise surds, or what Simon de Montfort achieved in 1265 against King Henry.

Obviously getting the right amount of sleep is key to being able to study well and improving focus, but actually sleeping earlier and getting up earlier has a positive benefit to motivation and focus, and helps keep your body going, and not becoming lazy but slaving into the wee hours of the morning, but then getting up at noon. In addition to sleep, eating well is also important in keeping your energy levels up and not running out of energy, then falling asleep on your laptop at 7pm. I recommend having a few (healthy) snacks at your desk, as well as a good supply of water or your preferred drink, that is anything but coffee.

Coffee is not too bad, as a pick me up in the morning just to wake your mind up, up relying of coffee especially through exams will result in unhealthy habits, and also your body not getting the rest it needs to recuperate and recover from the day. Yes, coffee can make you feel better, but just like any other mind altering substance, will eventually lead to dependence & even addiction. Coffee does nothing to actually help your cells to recover (which they need to do in the night), but rather just issues them with a high dose of energy, to keep them going - which ultimately tires your body out more, and just gives you more stress.

GCSE’s, A-Levels, are important, but not so much that your health becomes compromised. You will not be able to recite your knowledge in a 1 hour 30 to 2 hour exam in a stuffy exam hall if you body is tired and functioning on autopilot. The best thing to do to combat stress and pressure before an exam is to put the work in beforehand, space it out, and not cram one week or the night before your test. It won’t be worth it. Good luck for your exams, and remember to work hard, and rest well!