Exam pressure? Take a mindful moment...

ncs 17/05/2019

It might seem like you have zero spare time at the moment – even less to waste on things like mindfulness exercises. But, did you know that taking a mindful minute could actually significantly chill you out and help you do better with revision and exams? 

Don’t believe us? Try out one of these five techniques and prove us wrong…

7-11 Breathing

When you’re stressed, it’s harder to concentrate or think rationally. Breathing techniques are a quick way to calm your mind by first convincing your body everything’s OK. And you can do them literally anywhere, so no one will even know. 

This one’s super easy: 

  • Breathe in for a count of seven
  • Breathe out for a count of eleven
  • Repeat until you feel your heartbeat and stress level lowering
  • It’s great to do before an exam to get you feeling more relaxed

Positive Mantra

We’ve all heard about pep talks. They sound cheesy, but they really work. Scientists now know that our thoughts actually reshape our brain. So if you think something negative like, “I’m going to fail my maths exam” it makes it easier to keep thinking it – and worse, makes you start to believe it.

But you can reframe this with a simple, positive mantra. “I’m going to pass my maths exam” might sound like a lie to begin with, but the more you say it to yourself, the more real it’ll become.

Try saying it to yourself every day, and you’ll go into that exam feeling more capable to take it on. Oh, and remember to revise too!

5 Sense Drill

This is a quick one you can do at any time. It’ll help you break through stress or negative thoughts and give you a quiet moment to just be. Do before an exam or bed and repeat as often as you want. 

  • Take a couple of deep breaths
  • Look around you and silently name three things you can see
  • Now name three things you can hear
  • Bring your attention to your body, and name three sensations you can feel (maybe warmth, coolness, etc)
  • Now bring your attention to what you can smell or taste
  • Take a couple of deep breaths to end the exercise

Body Scan

Like the 5 sense drill, this is a great way to get you out of your head and into the here and now. 

  • Lie or sit down and take a few deep breaths, allowing your body to relax 
  • Starting with your head, focus your attention on how your body is feeling. Notice how heavy your head is, if there’s any stiffness in the neck
  • Next, move your attention to your shoulders, roll them to release any tension
  • Shift your focus down to the stomach. How does it feel?
  • From there, move to the knees and down to the toes
  • Finally, sweep your awareness from top to toe, making sure you pay close attention to any aches, tensions or just the sensations of being in your body
  • Breathe deeply, and feel at peace

Puppy Mind

This one’s all about being in the moment and watching thoughts wander in and out of your mind, like an excitable puppy coming in and out of a room.

  • Bring your attention to the way your body is feeling
  • Notice the air coming in and out of your body
  • Follow it, breath by breath, without trying to change it
  • When thoughts start coming up, notice them, but always go back to focusing on the breath. 
  • This will be hard at first, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Just keep going back to the breath whenever you’re aware you’re thinking

Congratulate yourself! You’ve just become able to step away from your thoughts. This means when you’re stuck in stressful or unhelpful thinking, you’ll always be able to move away and calm yourself down. And the more you do it, the easier it’ll become.

Now your mind is calmer, and you’re exam or revision ready! Remember you can employ any of these techniques at any time. You’ve got all you need to stay chilled, take on those exams and get the results you want. Good luck!