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Exam Stress

Some people positively thrive on testing, stressful situations. It heightens their senses, sets the adrenalin pumping and they enjoy the actual "test" and subsequent results - think adrenalin junkies and Bear Grylls. Given half the chance they'd have us all hurtling naked out of planes and surviving in a rain forest for months on end solely with a semi-blunt pen knife for company. Finding our inner-self in such a manner definitely isn't for everyone.

There is, of course, a distinct second group of people, who shy away from exposure, testing situations and having to face ones abilities or indeed inabilities head on. I have friends who shy away from marriage, as the thought of being the centre of attention, even for a single day, is just too much.

The same very much goes for exams. Some will accept the exam ethos, will take the to books, create study plans and do the best they can, whilst others are less embracing. Some will waltz into exams wholly unprepared, totally unfazed, very much with a "Que Sera Sera" attitude - Doris Day would be suitably impressed!

However the final category is the one that concerns me. Those people, students and young adults, who truly fear exams. As D-Day looms closer, stress levels reach fever pitch. They internalize emotions, are unable to concentrate on almost everything, poor performance ensues and in worse case scenario; experience a full melt down. I can liken it, in a very small way, to attempting to clear ones email inbox before going off on leave. You have a departure day but the emails keep pumping in... so much so that you can't actually focus on one topic or email string. Instead with a racing heart, in blind panic mode, you flick from one email to another, not able to focus, action or achieve anything.

A parent just last week discussed concerns regarding her son's GCSE preparation. He was overthinking revision and had entered into the "stress" phase, spending hours cleaning his bedroom, preparing study plans, collating the right pens, notebooks etc BUT he wasn't actually revising... not once!

Suicide is the bigger killer in men under the age of 45. For some, exams may just be too much for them. We all have a responsibility to be watchful and mindful of those who are struggling, agreed there aren't always obvious signs, but mindful we need to be.

Yes exams are important but not at all costs. There are re-sits, there are different paths that can be taken and perhaps with time and guidance, those who fear may learn to embrace their exams fears, head on, in a true Bear Grylls style.

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