Dealing with exam stress in teenagers

Holly Treasure in lavender

I thought watching both my teenage kids go through GCSE exams for two consecutive years was tough. That was until Holly started doing her A-levels and her workload and the associated pressures felt as though it had increased ten-fold. If I look back to my own A-levels I remember it being a bit of a shock to the system. GCSEs – although incredibly hard work – children have many years to prepare for and at least two to ready themselves for actual exams. With A-levels it is far more intense and I think the sheer amount of work shocked Holly.

Holly chose 3 A-level subjects: Photography, Psychology and English Literature. There is, of course, a lot of reading involved in Psychology and English Literature.  Photography is very course work heavy, all subjects are an incredible amount of work but she’s managed so well.  She has just finished her first year of A-level exams and we can now all breathe a sigh of relief, until the results day, of course!

Love saves the day festival

When it comes to the children having exams I always make sure I do whatever I can to help eliviate any potential stress. I buy in ‘brain food’ especially for the occasion ensuring Holly leaves each morning having eaten a really good breakfast, which usually consists of scrambled eggs on a wholemeal bagel. She also likes ice cold water with lemon in a jug and I’m happy to keep her topped up during study sessions and provide copious cups of tea and hot chocolate for when her friends come round to revise with her. This exam period I’ve been encouraging Holly to take the Swisse Vitamins Teenage Girls’ Ultivites a high-quality one a day multivitamin containing vitamins, minerals, extracts of natural botanicals and other nutrients, to support the healthy diet of teenage girls. It’s really important for teenagers to get all the vitamins they need to stay healthy and especially important during times of potential stress like exams.

The Zinc, vitamins C and D in the Swisse Vitamins Teenage Girls’ Ultivites contribute to normal function of the immune system, which is great because the last thing you need around exam time is an unwanted illness! They also contain Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, the magnesium and iron contribute to normal energy production and release helping to reduce tiredness and fatigue. Again, really important as in Holly’s case she was studying for several hours a day and needed the energy to get all that revision done. A star ingredient is the vitamin B5 which contributes to normal mental performance and fingers crossed gave Holly an extra boost of brain power on exam days!

Ways to help reduce exam stress:

You can help your teen reduce the exam stress by helping them establish effective study and learning habits:

  • Help your child find a quiet place to study without distractions. Make sure their table is uncluttered so they can focus better.
  • Encourage your child to find out exactly what the exam involves – are there past exam papers they can look at to help them understand what to expect?
  • Encourage your child to ask for help if they need it. Leading up to her exams I re-read the English Literature texts Holly was given so that we could talk about the texts together.
  • Help them to make ‘mind maps’ to collect ideas and summarise thoughts – you can also make up songs or raps to help remember key information. Holly and I had great fun doing this!
  • Help them to plan their study schedule early on so they have enough time to study.
  • Remind your child to take a short rest and move around in between each part of their study.
  • Encourage your child to stick to a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time (not always easy with a teenager but I insisted Holly was in bed at a decent hour)
  • Motivate them to eat regularly and make time to have fun and exercise. Holly and I regularly practice yoga together to help reduce stress and practice mindfulness.
  • Encourage them to drink lots of water.
  • Encourage them to eat fresh fruit, veggies, cereals, grains, nuts and protein – they are all good for the brain and blood sugar levels.
  • Encourage them to take a good multivitamin like the Swisse Vitamins Teenage Ultivites.
  • Arrange for a treat for the end of exams so they have something to look forward to and work towards.

I noticed that throughout her exams, Holly was really alert and very motivated, taking everything in her stride, I am so proud of the way Holly handles herself because I remember how difficult and stressful taking A-level exams is. Thanks to Swisse Vitamins, Holly got the chance to go to Love Saves the Day, a Bristol Festival. We were there too (but didn’t hang out with Holly much, obvs!) and it was great to see Holly and all her friends letting their hair down and celebrating the end of their first year exams. They had a couple of very late nights so all those B vitmains from the Swisse Vitamins must have done their job in helping Holly stay awake!

Dealing with exam stress

All we need to do now is wait for the results and hopefully we’ll be celebrating again when they come through in August. Fingers crossed!

*I am a working with Swisse Vitamins this year as part of their #SwisseFamilies campaign

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