Exams fill most of us with a sense of dread. From the churning stomach to sleepless nights, it's an experience we can all empathise with.
We have all had to do it at some point and at this time of year thousands of young people will be living through an anxious few weeks as they prepare to take GCSEs and A-levels. Across the UK, teenagers will be taking their place at a solitary desk in a drafty gymnasium, having spent hours cramming over revision.
Many will have got to bed late the night before, will have felt too sick to eat breakfast and will be too overwhelmed to concentrate on the questions in front of them. And they're not alone. Last year, the NSPCC's ChildLine service carried out over 3,000 counselling sessions with young people struggling to cope with the pressure of taking exams.
Not wanting to disappoint their parents, fear of failure and the general pressures linked to getting the grades they want are just some of the reasons why children contact ChildLine at this time of year.
Stress and anxiety about exams can have a big impact on young people's mental health. It can trigger anxiety attacks, depression, tearfulness and even eating disorders. All this can ultimately affect exam performance. In some cases it can lead to self-harm and suicidal feelings.
And it can be isolating. Young people often tell our counsellors they think they're the only one struggling among their class mates. Talking about how you're feeling can really help. Bottling up anxieties and concerns about exams can often make the stress worse. It can really help to talk rather than trying to deal with it on your own.
It can sometimes feel like your whole future depends on what grades you get but try not to let this dominate your thoughts and feelings. Although exams are important they are not the only key to a successful future. Even if you don't get the results you need or expect, you still have options and can get help with any decisions you have to make.
To help young people through exam season, ChildLine has launched a video - Six Tips to Managing Exam Stress is available on ChildLine's YouTube channel and recommends introducing simple tips to your revision schedule as you prepare for exams.
Try the following tips and advice:
• Make a revision timetable and make sure you take regular breaks
• Spend some time exercising or doing something you enjoy to give yourself some time out
• Getting a good night's sleep will help you much more than trying to revise all night - you will just end up very tired the next day
• Try to think positively - even if you don't feel like it, a positive attitude will help you during your revision
• Start a revision group with some friends on WhatsApp or Facebook. You might have different ways of learning that can help each other.
And don't forget ChildLine is there any time of day, no matter what the worry. You can reach our trained counsellors free and in confidence, on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org
The NSPCC also has advice for parents and carers to help ease young people's exam stress and anxieties during the revision period:
• Don't place unnecessary pressure on your children to gain certain grades. They may feel they have failed if they don't achieve what they thought was expected of them.
• Encourage children to take regular breaks, eat snacks and exercise.
• Help them revise by leaving them the space and time to do so.
• Be relaxed about chores or untidiness and understand they might be moody. Allow your children to revise at night if that's what works best for them, but make sure that they get enough sleep to keep their energy levels up in the day.
• Be supportive and help your child with their worries by talking to them.
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