10 tips to calm exam nerves

Feeling nervous in the run-up to exams is a completely normal reaction. But knowing that doesn’t make it feel any better. We share 10 tips to help reduce exam stress and promote calmness ahead of the big day.

Exams are a huge cause of stress and anxiety. An overwhelming 82% of teachers agree that exams and tests have the single biggest impact on students’ mental health. It’s no wonder so many feel nervous when studying for their exams.

An important part of hypnotherapy for exam stress is knowing how to remain calm and relaxed, even when the pressure is building. While a little bit of stress is good for you and can give you the boost you need, too much can hinder your abilities, hold you back, and even damage your health.


How to keep exam nerves at bay

Here are 10 tips to help prepare for and keep the exam nerves at bay.

1. Use breathing techniques to remain calm

Deep breathing techniques can help to stop our natural ‘fight or flight’ response, which can lead to heightened levels of anxiety. By focusing on your breathing, you can relax physically and begin to feel more in control.

2. Practice self-hypnosis outside of hypnotherapy sessions

Self-hypnosis (or ‘auto-hypnosis’) is a technique which can help reinforce new habits and break unhelpful behaviour patterns. When used alongside sessions with a qualified, experienced hypnotherapist, self-hypnosis can help change automatic negative responses like anxiety, stress, and fear.

3. Plan and prioritise revision time

Without a plan in place, you may end up worrying about revision around the clock. Through creating (and sticking to) a plan, you can recognise your areas of weakness, prioritise where you need to focus, and feel more in control.

4. Work in short bursts – you could try the Pomodoro technique

Techniques like the Pomodoro method promote the idea of task switching, over multi-tasking. By setting aside specific times to sit and focus on a single task, then a set time to take a break, before another time to focus on a task, you can activate the reward system in your brain and get more done. Find out more about how this technique could be more helpful than multi-tasking.

5. Keep regularly active

Regular exercise and activity can help reduce stress by increasing your body’s endorphins. Physical activity not only helps lower stress levels but can also boost your mood, decrease tension and reduce anxiety. Really, it’s a win-win all around.

6. Avoid social media right before taking an exam

Doomscrolling can drag you out of the right mindset needed to focus before taking an exam. You can also risk increasing your nerves, as you focus on what other people may be posting about their own exam-related worries online. Take a step back, and try to save social media updates for after your exam is complete.

7. Ensure you make time for hobbies

It’s important to take a break from revision and exam stress. If you feel unable to focus on anything but your upcoming exams and how they are making you feel, this could be a sign you are experiencing exam anxiety and may need a little extra help and support.

8. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet

Too much caffeine can elevate your cortisol (stress hormone) levels and negatively impact your sleep, while too much sugar can lead to energy peaks and crashes. Ensuring you are having a balanced diet with plenty of slow-release energy foods can help you to study for longer and feel less stressed.

9. Stay hydrated

How much we drink can affect our mood, cognition, and sleep quality. Just remember, drinks high in caffeine (tea, coffee, energy drinks) or sugar (juice, soda) do not help with hydration. It’s important to make sure you have plenty of water.

10. Ensure you get adequate sleep

Sleep helps us to recharge, feel refreshed and be ready for the day. When we don’t get enough sleep, we risk lowering our immune system, and damaging our motivation, and leaving ourselves open to stress. Discover more about how hypnotherapy can help overcome sleep problems.


Stress can affect us at any point in our lives. It can sometimes appear unexpectedly, causing us to lose sleep, lose our appetite and forget to take care of ourselves. If you feel your exam stress is affecting your daily life, hypnotherapy can also be effective for sleep disorders such as insomnia, panic attacks and relaxation.

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Written by Bonnie Gifford
Bonnie Evie Gifford is a Senior Writer at Happiful.
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Written by Bonnie Gifford

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