Young people like you all over the country are busy revising for their upcoming GCSE and A Level exams. Anxiety and stress levels for you and your parents are rising. In order to make the most of these exams, it is important to keep an eye on your mental health and wellbeing. The next in the exam season series is going to focus on keeping the anxiety and stress levels as low as possible.
Recently, an article appeared in The Daily Mail in which it was claimed that because of the pressure of achieving top grades at GCSE or A Level, there are parents who are cancelling or postponing family holidays.
As a teacher and counsellor, I think this is a really bad idea. What would be much better is to continue with the planned holiday but to help the child use the break in a constructive way as time away from home is good for the entire family. But the basic rule is: Establish a routine.
Social Life: You need one. You cannot spend all day alone. Making time for meaningful face to face interaction (not on a screen) with your close friends will give you much needed down time and a shift in focus. But having chats with your classmates also allows you to gain perspective. You might realise you do actually know that complicated bit of Physics or you don’t know it quite as well as you thought you did and you need to revisit it.
Firstly, it has to be said that there is no substitution for hard work. You cannot go into the exams if you are not prepared academically. But more about that at another time. This guide is aimed at what you can do to prepare yourself emotionally for the exam season.
Here are my top 5 tips that could help you minimise stress while at work.
1 Start and finish the day well
This could be as simple as ensuring you are not rushing out the door or running for your train. Children are always told: pack your school bag the night before. Well, we as adults should do the same. Preparation for tomorrow starts today. Get to be bed early enough that you get enough sleep. If you have a presentation tomorrow, pack what you need for it before going to bed. Check laptop is charged. Check your presentation is backed up. Pre-empt anything that could go wrong by preventing it before bedtime. And then on the journey, what can you do to relax? Read? Listen to some music?
A lot has been said lately about out work-life balance and its impact on our wellbeing. A recent study in New Zealand found a four day week led to lower stress levels and higher productivity. Let’s be blunt: this option (in the UK it would be called “part-time”) is not an option for most of us.
Here are some ideas if you feel that work is possibly taking over too much:
Being a Human Givens practitioner means accepting the premise of the approach: we all have emotional needs. Here is my take on applying the relevant ones to the classroom.
Each pupil needs to feel safe in the classroom. As a teacher, I need to create an environment where it is safe to ask and answer a question. Too often pupils are scared to speak up out of the fear of being wrong. It is my responsibility to make it clear that it is safe to make mistakes. Getting things wrong is part of learning. Why is it wrong? How do I get to a more correct answer? Is there even a correct answer? Sometimes this might mean having to explore more of a Growth Mindset by reframing in the following way: You might not know the answer YET.