While standardised testing is currently a key part of our education system, a recent survey has shown that more than half of teenagers have cried because of the stress of their exams, and many teachers fear that exam results are prioritised over pupils’ wellbeing.
However, there are a number of methods which can help pupils beat the stress they face. Although different techniques work for different people, we have gathered together some techniques that focus on physical relaxation and control. Pupils can practise these by themselves at any time, and can use them to help take control of stressful situations.
- Breathing: Understanding breathing and being aware of your breathing technique is an important relaxation tool, as it creates beneficial physiological changes. Diaphragmatic breathing gets more oxygen to the bloodstream and slows our heart rate, which can help calm us down in uncomfortable situations, such as an exam.
- Muscles: If you’re stressed your muscles become tense: having an awareness of your muscles can help them relax, and deep physical relaxation can reduce anxiety. The way you position your body can also optimise the relaxation of your muscles.
- Visualisation: Visualising certain relaxing images can divert stressful thoughts and calm a busy mind. Giving you more control over your thoughts, visualisation can decreases fear, which allows you to confront scary or stressful situations.
Relaxation is an interactive resource which goes into detail about why these techniques work. It also explores other techniques, such as ways to improve anger management and techniques to remind yourself of the feeling of relaxation. With guided audio sessions to help you practise the techniques and the opportunity to write down reflections on how you feel, Relaxation is an invaluable resource to help pupils become calmer and more focused.
We have a growing range of resources for pupils’ wellbeing in MyLibrary, as well as courses for educational staff in the CPD Library that can help you understand the issues some pupils face.
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Relaxation techniques can be powerful, but may affect people differently. It is important to stop if you feel worse and ask your doctor for advice.