Exam Stress & Anxiety

You didn’t come this far to stop.

Hypnotherapy can be helpful for managing exam nerves and stress by helping reduce your anxiety and fear of failure, as well as boosting your self-confidence.

We all experience moments of worry, anxiety, stress and overwhelm when it comes to studying and taking exams. Waiting for your results can feel just as - if not more - overwhelming, as you may feel powerless to change things. 82% of teachers agree that exams and tests have the biggest impact on students' mental health.

Feeling stressed or anxious about your exams is normal. Nerves are a natural reaction that many feel helps motivate them and push them to focus on revising. For others, these feelings can cause an overwhelming sense of pressure, uncertainty, and fear. When these feelings become too intense, we can feel overwhelmed, and our performance may suffer. Too much stress and anxiety can hold us back from reaching our true potential.

Exam nerves, stress and anxiety: What’s the difference?

Worries around our exams are ‘normal’, but how can we tell when what we are feeling is to be expected, and when it becomes a problem?

The terms ‘anxiety’ and ‘nerves’ are commonly used interchangeably, these can be two very different things. For example, someone who is experiencing exam nerves may feel worried or anxious when doing certain things like revising. These feelings come and go, and help push them to study more.

In contrast, someone who is experiencing problem exam anxiety may find that their worries are interfering with their day-to-day life. Perhaps their worries interfere with their sleep, persist throughout the day and evening no matter what they are doing, or pop up during unexpected times. This type of chronic anxiety can feel overwhelming and can be detrimental to your studying and overall well-being.

Exam nerves

Just about everyone will experience some level of exam nerves. No matter how much you revise, how well you know the material, or how confident you are in your subject, some level of nerves is natural. Unlike other types of exam worries, feeling nervous doesn’t disrupt your everyday life.

You may experience physical or psychological symptoms of exam nerves, such as:

  • dizziness

  • dry mouth

  • self-doubt

  • sweaty palms

You could feel this way when thinking about your exams, during revision, or while taking a test. But these feelings of nervousness go away once you have gone through the situation, and you still feel able to face similar situations again in the future. Learning healthy coping mechanisms can help you to handle these feelings in the future.

Exam anxiety

Exam anxiety is a more ongoing feeling. If you struggle to feel calm or feel like you are constantly dreading exams, tests, or revision, and these feelings persist in your day-to-day life, disrupting other activities, it could be a sign you are experiencing anxiety.

As well as experiencing the physical and/or psychological symptoms of exam nerves, you may also feel:

  • the need to avoid places or situations that remind you of your upcoming exams or test

  • a suffocating feeling of dread, anxiety, or overwhelm

  • start exhibiting negative coping behaviours

If you are worried you may be experiencing anxiety to the point it is becoming overwhelming and affecting other areas of your life, it may be worth speaking with your GP or someone at your school, college or university.

For some people, exam nerves can set in weeks or even months before their exam. You may experience butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, or a racing heart. You may worry that your memory will let you down, or fear you will revise the wrong things. As exams draw closer, you may have trouble sleeping or eating, as feelings of stress and anxiety grow. For some, even after their exams have passed, they may continue to feel anxious, worried, or even scared about receiving their results.

Exam stress

Sometimes, the pressure of studying for or sitting exams can cause us to feel stressed. Stress is a natural response to these pressures and, while a small amount can help us to focus, too much can affect our overall health and well-being.

Signs to look out for can include:

  • feeling low or overwhelmed

  • feeling unable to spend time with friends, family, or doing activities you enjoy

  • trouble sleeping, getting up, or poor quality sleep

  • feeling tense, clammy hands, or butterflies in your stomach

  • trouble sitting still, making decisions, biting your nails, or grinding your teeth

  • losing your appetite or overeating

Over time, exam stress can lead you to feel anxious or depressed. It’s important to recognise if you are feeling stressed and to speak to someone before it can develop into something more serious.

Do I have exam nerves or exam anxiety?

While the symptoms of both can be similar, it’s important to consider three major areas:

1. How long have you felt this way?

If you feel like you are constantly worrying about your exams, rather than feeling like this anxiety is coming and going in intensity, it could be a sign of anxiety. If your feelings of worry don’t end when you have finished your exams, it could be a sign of anxiety.

2. Does how you feel affect what you do?

Feeling nervous doesn’t stop you from doing the things that make you feel this way, while anxiety can stop you from doing things you enjoy, decrease your focus, and affect your day-to-day activities.

3. Can you still focus on things?

Nerves may make it hard to focus on a specific thing, while anxiety can make many things feel harder to focus on.

Who experiences exam stress and anxiety?

Exam worries can affect anyone, at any age. It doesn’t matter how much you have studied, how much experience you have, or how intelligent you are. Anyone can experience nerves, anxiety, or stress when it comes to exams.

There is a great emphasis in today’s society to use exams to measure a person’s ability (for example, to drive a car to study or for a certain job). We may expect it, but the pressure feels overwhelming. When nerves become out of control, they can lead to anxiety attacks (also known as panic attacks) and stress. If you don’t know how to cope with these feelings, it can create a vicious circle of more intense emotions. Over time, this can have a negative impact on the unconscious mind and result in more general, longer-term, performance-based anxiety.

Preparing for an exam and successfully completing it is not just about how knowledgeable you are, but also your state of mind. Feeling calm, relaxed, focused and confident when studying and sitting your exam means you will be much more likely to achieve your full potential. While accessing this state of mind is a skill, it can often be learned by implementing new ways of thinking.

Exam Nerves Hypnotherapy
Exam Nerves Hypnotherapy
hypnotherapy to help exam nerves and stress
hypnotherapy to help exam nerves and stress

How hypnotherapy can help you cope with exam nerves, anxiety and stress

Hypnotherapy is a common method used for helping control exam nerves as it can help boost confidence, promote relaxation, and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. It can also help you develop the ability to access the calm state of mind needed to sit an exam or cope with a potentially overwhelming situation.

Hypnotherapy can be a great option for children. It teaches them that it is ok to talk openly if you have worries or concerns. This develops a behaviour that allows them to reach out and ask for help if they are struggling. It also provides them with coping mechanisms and builds resilience to support them as they face new issues as they grow.

For children, hypnotherapy is a powerful tool. Children are a lot quicker at accepting change. They are still shaping their opinions and views. Hypnotherapists that work with children will have developed tools and techniques to help your child deal with the issues they are experiencing in a supportive way.

The power of suggestion and visualisation techniques can encourage an individual to clear their racing mind and approach the exam with a cool, focused head. Your mind knows the information you need to pass the exam, but when experiencing exam stress or anxiety, your ability to focus and concentrate will suffer. Hypnotherapy will help you recall the information easily and correctly, as well as help restore your self-belief.

What to expect from a hypnotherapy session

After an initial consultation, @Oneness will begin by helping you to enter a relaxed state of mind. The you may then ask you to focus on the exam. You may also be asked to focus on the physical sensations you feel when stressed, anxious or under pressure. Once you have recognised these feelings, calming words and ‘suggestions’, will be given.

These suggestions will differ for your individual needs and situation. For example, if your mind goes blank when you enter an exam room, the suggestion may be, “You are in control, you know the information and you can do it.” Or if you are experiencing exam stress during a driving test, the suggestion may be a way of coping, such as “slow your breathing, remain calm and focus.”

The idea behind the suggestion method is that when you start to feel under pressure, overwhelmed or stressed about an upcoming exam, the suggestions and visualisations will enter your conscious mind and help you cope. You will also be taught valuable techniques that can help you relax and remain calm when you start to feel worried.

Hypnotherapy can also be used to overcome the fear of failure. It can encourage you to focus, believe in yourself, increase motivation and boost concentration.

You may find that one session is enough to help you overcome your exam nerves and stress, or you may feel you need more. We will work together to decide what techniques and how many sessions will be most effective for you.

Hypnotherapy for School Anxiety stress
Hypnotherapy for School Anxiety stress

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Online hypnotherapy
Online hypnotherapy