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Student Mental Health Workshop 

Managing Exam Stress and Anxiety

The duration of this session can be tailored to suit your needs, additional topics can be included on request or subjects can be removed from the below list if you don’t think they will suit your students. I recommend a 3 hour session to cover everything in the depth needed.

Why do you need me to come in and give this talk?

I've given all the details, why shouldn't you take the ideas and run the session yourself?

Social Proof I'm in the privileged position of having large numbers of students listen to what I say. Even if I'm saying exactly the same thing as a classroom teacher, they listen to me. 

Please contact me to discuss what your students need in detail.

What is stress and how do you know you are under stress? 

Our bodies response to stress in a number of physiological and behavioural ways. Not all of these reactions may be obviously linked to exam stress. Students that are experiencing their first period of prolonged stress may be worried about some of the reactions they are having (headaches, dizziness or diarrhoea) being able to link these to exam stress may reduce additional anxiety about other illnesses. 

 In this section I aim to equip students with the skills to understand how they respond to stress, how they can manage the problems caused by their responses and how to recognise stress in other people and help them.

Where are you under pressure from? How to see social media for what it really is 

The three areas students are under pressure from are; home, school and social media. YouTube and Instagram are the social networks of choice for the majority of our students and the increase in #Studygram and Studytube is putting them under increasing pressure to study ‘perfectly’. Users sharing images of chemistry notes that would get good grades in art lessons and have thousands of ‘likes’. ‘Study with me’ videos that are over 2 hours long and have over 420k views. Students have probably gone looking for these in the hope of motivation and inspiration but these are unrealistic expectations of studying, and students need to realise they can still achieve if their notes aren’t Instagram perfect. 

 In this section I aim to equip students with the skills to understand and decode social media and reduce the stress caused by it.

How to deal with stress 

Once students can recognise how they respond to stress and the source of stress in their lives, we need to start looking at how they can cope with stress. 

I talk to them about the benefits of mindfulness, exercise, planning and (most importantly) allowing themselves the time to stop revising and to take time to look after their mental health.

The ‘forgetting curve’ 

Cramming is a popular but unhelpful technique for revision, they are always stories of students who did 1 hour revision and achieved a grade 9 but in reality for the majority of our students that doesn’t work. 

In this section I am to equip students with the ability to revise little and often, to start their revision earlier and to evenly cover subjects,

How to plan revision 

Students under pressure often don’t plan their revision as they feel they can’t afford to spend the time not revising, this can lead to topics being missed and topics that students feel comfortable with being covered more frequently.In this workshop, 

I work with the students to plan an individual timetable, using post-it notes and then paper.

High priority and low priority subjects

Not all subjects are as important as each other, I know this may not be a popular opinion with all teachers, but students shouldn’t spread out their revision equally. Maths, English and A-Level choices should have more time dedicated to them than other subjects. 

In this section I will help students identify which subjects they need spend more time on and why.

What does effective revision look like? 

As teachers we’ve all seen the student who has coloured in their whole revision guide with highlighter pen and called it revision. 

In this session I go over a range of different techniques that students can use to revise

What to do the day before an exam 

Before every exam students will boast about how late they stayed up the night before studying, how they crammed for ages without a break and how they only had time for a mars bar for breakfast. As teacher we recognise these behaviours as unhealthy and sometimes self-destructive, but students can’t always see what they are doing is harmful. 

In this section I go through the importance of eating, sleeping and relaxing the day before the exam. How much study should actually be done and how to prepare properly.

Panic attacks in the exam 

Student anxiety about exams can sometimes come out during the exam and increasingly students are needing to leave exams due to panic attacks. 

I aim to equip students with techniques they can use in an exam (or any time) they feel a panic attack starting so they can move on and focus on their work.

Planning for results day 

For students this may be the first results day they have. They will be unfamiliar with what happens, and how to deal with any issues that arise. Stress can lead people to catastrophise events, in addition to exam stress they will be worried about papers going missing, needing to get exam papers remarked and if they should open their results in front of their friends. Students being able to envisage what will happen can reduces that stress level. 

Here I talk students through what will happen, and how to deal with any

Dealing with failure – What is the worst that could happen? 

For out students their current exams are (probably) the most important event in their lives so far. Often they have trouble seeing past this set of exams and can’t see a future that involves failure. Stress over telling adults about lower than expected results is adding to the pressure they are feeling at the moment. 

In this section I talk students through the possible consequences of getting lower than predicted grades. With the aim of them realising that if they don’t get their target grades the world won’t end. Covering topics such as; how future university applications may be affected.