Learning how to relax is crucial. Straightforward, effective, self-help techniques are going to be very helpful in the run-up to the exams, and even when you’re sitting in the exam room.
Breathing techniques

Stress can make you start breathing with quick, shallow breaths and make your heart beat faster than usual. If this happens, sit down somewhere comfortable, if possible. Place one hand on your stomach and check how quickly you are breathing. If it's one breath every couple of seconds, take a deep breath and start counting steadily. Breathe out slowly and try to get the last of the breath out on about five seconds. Carry on doing this until you are doing it naturally.
Relaxation routine
  • Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply

  • Locate any areas of tension and try to relax those muscles; imagine the tension disappearing

  • Relax each part of the body, from your feet to the top of your head

  • As you focus on each part of your body, think of warmth, heaviness and relaxation

  • After 20 minutes, take some deep breaths and stretch.

Physical activity

Regular exercise is an excellent way of coping with stress. As little as 10 or 20 minutes a day spent walking, cycling, or at the gym can make a big difference.

Complementary therapies

There are also various herbal preparations or homeopathic remedies, but it’s a good idea to talk to qualified practitioners about this. Practitioners work holistically, to take into account your whole situation and your general health, and can advise you accordingly. Contact the British Complementary Medicine Association (BCMA) for a list of qualified practitioners

Yoga, meditation and massage all have proven benefits in reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Ask at college about what’s available, find out about local classes from your library, or contact the BCMA.


If you’re tired, worries can get blown out of proportion. If you’ve been finding it difficult to get to sleep, try cutting down on stimulants (tea, coffee and alcohol, for instance) and make sure you have time to unwind before bed. A warm bath, with perhaps some added aromatherapy oils, can help. Some people feel very stressed about not getting enough sleep. It’s worth remembering that people can still function very well without any sleep for short periods of time.

Support groups

Think about getting together in a study group with fellow students. It can help with revision and give you an opportunity for talking to each other about what is worrying you, letting off steam and reducing tension. Sometimes, people are reluctant to open up for fear of what others might think of them, but everybody is in the same boat.

From Mind