We are coming up to the most stressful time of year for our children and teenagers...exam season.
However well prepared they are, there is a lot of pressure put on youngsters to perform well and whilst some will sail through relatively unscathed, others can struggle on many levels both physically or mentally.
Symptoms of stress include headaches, stomach aches (especially in younger children), sleep issues, irritability (more than usual!), problems concentrating and planning, negative behavioural changes, more frequent illness and general anxiety.
They won't necessarily be able to say that they are stressed, they may just appear very angry, so watching out for the above symptoms is important. When the body is under stress it activates the fight/flight/freeze response which is designed to protect us and help us deal with the threat. The problem with exam stress it is persistent and you are not able to run away from it or fight it to make it go away so this leaves you with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, continuously coursing round the body making it an uncomfortable and edgy place to be.
The unfortunate thing about stress at exam time is it affects the student's ability to do organised revising, retain information or concentrate in the exam so anything that can be done to help settle their system is a benefit.
We have put together an EXAM STRESS TOOLKIT from our recovery toolkit with the aim to help children and teenagers - and their parents! feel more relaxed.
Gentle Osteopathic treatment is also an excellent way to help children and teenagers feel more relaxed. When the body relaxes there is less tension and discomfort which helps the head and stomach and it also reduces the fight/flight response which decreases the anxiety and psychological symptoms and should promote better mental concentration and sleep.
Exam Stress Toolkit:
Breathing Exercises: The simplest breathing technique to help reduce stress levels is a 6 IN : 6 OUT pattern. Breathe in for 6 counts and out for counts and continue for 1 to 2 minutes. For more information visit our Breathing Exercise page.
Meditation: Meditation is an excellent way to reboot the body's computer. It is like switching the body off and on again. On our Osteopathy For Children page we have some great video links for mediation for children. They are like bedtime stories and you can sit and relax with them too. I understand getting your teenager to meditate may seem as impossible as getting them to revise but it is worth a try. There is a great 'calm your CNS' mediation on the Meditation page that will be more suitable for them.
Movement: If you can get them moving do. This improves blood supply and circulation which will aid concentration and promotes relaxation in the body. How about some Tai Chi...?
Sleep: Often students struggle to get to sleep or are waking in the night so again we have some links to some deep sleep meditations that can be listened to at bed time Check out the Sleep Disturbance page for video links.
Good Luck to all those taking exams this year and If you would like our help for your child then please do get in touch. We have after school and Saturday appointments for children.