This can be a particularly difficult time of year for students studying towards exams. For too long the myth that school days are the happiest in our lives as been held up as a universal truth but for far too many students this is unfortunately not the case. More teenagers than ever before are reporting difficulties with depression and anxiety with symptoms increasing during the exam period.
Indeed in most recent years a worrying trend has emerged which indicates that people are experiencing mental health difficulties more severely and at a younger age. No wonder considering that teenagers and young adults are dealing with mounting pressure on all fronts. Social media demands they display an interesting and active social life, have perfect bodies and ooze in intelligence and humour.
Add into this pressure that they also need to do well in exams followed with the obligatory post on social media about what university or college they are going to attend alongside glowing family photos of proud parents beaming because of their success. Within this world it’s hard to imagine that many more will be disappointed, will cry bitterly and feel embarrassed about their performance and that this experience will shape how they feel about their abilities for years to come.
It is during these times we would like to take the time to remind students that academic success is not the deciding factor on how their lives turn out. There are many successful people who did not perform well in academics but whose ingenuity, creativity and determination led them to the top of their fields.
Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Anna Wintour, J.K. Rowling but to mention a few, even Albert Einstein was vocal about his dislike of formal education and his teachers reported he was ‘mentally retarded’ (Somehow I think they go that wrong).
Essentially while it is important to apply ourselves to academic endeavours they are not an indication of a person’s worth or value. In fact there are many types of intelligence which formal education dismisses or ignores entirely and that we shouldn’t always listen to what others tell us about our abilities. Your potential, talent, skills and abilities are best known by you.
Remember in this semester to be kind to yourself, you can concentrate better and retain more information if you are relaxed and happy. More importantly be kind to others, hold off on the celebratory post, enjoy your success but spare a moment to empathise with a friend who has been disappointed.
Capability is important to some extent but is far outweighed by having good character and showing compassion.
Taking a small break (5-15mins) every hour leads to increased productivity.
Studying with a scent (aromatherapy oil) and taking it into the exam can increase retention by 20% as smell is the sense most strongly connected to our memory.
Sleep helps to reinforce learning (So all night cram sessions are not effective).
Cardiovascular exercise stimulates neurogenesis (Birth of brain cells) in the hippocampus which is responsible for learning, memory and emotional regulation.
Don’t stress, do your best and forget the rest!
If you or a family member need support please contact 02890650060