How Yoga Can Help During Exams

Recently, a student attended one of my workshops for stress management as she was starting revising for her A-level exams and already feeling the pressure. Afterwards, I remembered that I had a little list of tips from when I was still working as a stress counsellor, which I shared with her and she found really useful and helpful. Maybe you know someone who would appreciate these as well:

How to look after yourself
  • Ask for help and support, if necessary.
  • Eat regularly and healthily. Start your day with a wholesome breakfast. For snacks, eat fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, toast or yoghurt, rather than chocolate and crisps.
  • Drink at least 1 l of water each day. Avoid coffee, tea, coke, sugary drinks and alcohol.
  • Go for a brisk walk every day for about 20 minutes minimum. Try to do exercise at least two times a week (yoga, swimming, jogging, tennis, football, … whatever you enjoy). Read here which yoga poses are particularly suited for stress release.
  • Have relaxation time every day: Do something enjoyable (preferably away from the computer, iPad and mobile). Or just sit back and relax, watch a funny film, read a book, have a hot bath in the evening.
  • Go to bed in good time.
  • To help you go to sleep: Consciously trying to go to sleep doesn’t work. Instead, practice a relaxation or breathing technique. If things play on your mind, write them down in a little notebook.
  • Keep in touch with close friends and relatives but don’t let them become a distraction.
  • Avoid people who make you feel stressed or bad.
How to revise
  • Make a revision time table. Be realistic and include time for breaks, meals, relaxation, and exercise. Stick to the plan.
  • Have a well-organized and clutter-free study space. Do you have all the equipment? Books? Enough light? A comfortable chair? Get rid of distractions (computer games!).
  • Know yourself: Some people work better in silence, others with background music. Some alone, others in a study group. Some at home, others in the library. Some people like to use spider diagrams, others make lists. Whatever works for you is good.
  • Particularly effective revision techniques include: Writing out your notes; practicing old exam papers, and explaining a topic to someone else.
  • To release tension, get up from your chair every hour or so and stretch.
  • When things go wrong, don’t beat yourself up or throw in the towel, be kind to yourself and simply get back to your plan.
  • Plan your exam day: Pack everything you need the night before. Put out your clothes, pencil case, watch, money, keys, tissues, water. Know exactly where to go. Work out how long it takes to get there and add extra time. Arrive 10 – 15 minutes early at the exam room.
  • Have faith in yourself. It is normal to feel overwhelmed. Tell yourself “I can do this, I’ll be fine”. Smile.
How yoga can help during exams

In a nutshell, yoga is effective for releasing exam stress because it has many health benefits as well as offering practical tools such as exercise, breathing techniques, and mindful meditation. Yoga boosts the mood, encourages a broader view on life, and advocates a healthy dose of self-compassion. Yoga also makes a great home practice if you can’t motivate yourself to get out of the house, and, on the other hand, can be an enjoyable social experience should you feel isolated and lonely.

Leaves me only to say: Good luck.

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
(Chinese Proverb)