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      The following information is provided from the websites YoungMinds and AnnaFeud.

      Self care tips during examinations

      It’s important to look after your mental health while revising for exams, but how can you do this? Young Minds Activist, Rose, shares her favourite ways.

      Five Minutes

      Try a grounding exercise. Grab a (non-academic!) book or sheet of paper and count how many letters there are on the page, or count how many blue things you can see in the room.

      These types of exercises help to reduce anxiety by focusing your brain on a specific task that is unrelated to your work.

      Another grounding exercise is the 54321 trick. You need to find:

      • 5 things you can see
      • 4 things you can touch
      • 3 things you can hear
      • 2 things you can smell/taste
      • 1 good thing about yourself

      Fifteen minutes

      Find a YouTube video that makes you smile – I recommend dogs on trampolines and waterslides for this purpose.

      Make a hot drink, but don’t take it back to your desk with you. Drink it away from your work space and turn it into a short mindfulness exercise – notice how the mug feels warm in your hands, but cools down gently, and the way the liquid feels when you take a sip. Try to bring your mind back to it if you find yourself going back into revision-mode before your break is over!

      Do something creative, like drawing, colouring or printing off funny pictures to stick on your noticeboard. You could even try to learn a new skill – I’ve been learning to crochet by reading blogs online.

      An hour

      Have a shower with a shower gel or soap that smells really good. You could try a lavender-scented shower gel or moisturiser, a smell many people find calming, so that the smell lingers for a while.

      Do something involving nature. Go for a walk, sit in the garden or buy a plant.

      Connect with other humans. Find somebody who also needs a break and have a chat with them – you might be able to help each other get through the exam period. It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re doing exams, so make time to connect with your friends.

      There are lots of other self-care ideas here https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/

      In general

      It sounds obvious, but make sure you’re drinking enough water and eating regular meals – it can be tempting to eat at your desk to maximise study time, but you’ll work more effectively if you use meal times as a way to get away from your study space.

      Remember that everybody has different study patterns and energy levels, so try not to worry that you’re not doing enough work. Keep in mind that people might exaggerate the amount of time they claim to be working for!

      If you’re struggling to manage your mood or anxiety levels, don’t keep it to yourself. Friends and family members can be a great source of support, and there’s no shame in seeking professional help. YoungMinds https://www.youngminds.org.uk/young-person/blog/exam-self-care/ have plenty of information about how to get support for your mental health, so you don’t need to suffer in silence.

      Above all, remember that exams aren’t everything. There are many options that don’t rely on getting the top grades and in ten years’ time, most people won’t care or notice what grades you got when you were younger. You are not defined by your exam results – you are so much more than the letters that appear on a sheet of paper

      Apps delivering self-help strategies

      The links below take you to third-party apps.  At last review, all apps were being provided for free by the provider.  Some may ask you to download an app and some may require registration.  Please contact the app provider if you have any questions before downloading.


      An on-demand emotional health service and online therapy provider. Anyone who wants to talk about whatever is on their mind can quickly reach out to a trained, compassionate listener through our network. 7 Cups have hundreds of listeners who come from all walks of life and have diverse experiences.. Our listeners just listen. They understand. They give you the space you need to help you clear your head. For more information, click here.


      Calm Harm is an app designed to help people resist or manage the urge to self-harm. It’s private and password protected. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here.

      Catch It

      Learn how to manage feelings like anxiety and depression with Catch It. The app will teach you how to look at problems in a different way, turn negative thoughts into positive ones and improve your mental wellbeing. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here.

      Chill Panda

      Learn to relax, manage your worries and improve your wellbeing with Chill Panda. The app measures your heart rate and suggests tasks to suit your state of mind. Tasks include simple breathing techniques and light exercises to take your mind off your worries. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here.


      The distrACT app gives you easy, quick and discreet access to information and advice about self-harm and suicidal thoughts. The content has been created by doctors and experts in self-harming and suicide prevention. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here


      Happify includes science-based activities and games which can help you overcome negative thoughts, stress and life’s challenges. 86% of people who used Happify regularly report feeling better about their lives in 2 months. Please note you can get access to some support in the free version, but Happify plus is a paid for service. For more information, click here


      Kooth: Managing Exam Stress Workshop on Vimeo:

      This workshop explains “what is stress” and provides some helpful coping strategies

      • Recognising stress
      • How stress can impact on exams
      • Coping with stress
      • Where to find help

      For more information, click here


      The MeeTwo app provides a safe and secure forum for teenagers wanting to discuss any issue affecting their lives. You can anonymously get advice from experts or other teenagers going through similar experiences in areas such as mental health, self-harming, relationships and friendships. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here

      MindDoc (previously known as Moodpath) 

      MindDoc (previously known as Moodpath) helps you track your emotional state to detect patterns and identify areas for improvement. It checks in on you and provides regular mental health reports. It offers a range of courses, meditations, sleep aids and other resources. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety MindDoc will help guide you toward emotional wellbeing. For more information, click here

      NHS Go

      The NHS Go app provides young people with confidential health advice and greater access to health information. You can find local services in some areas and learn about health and your rights as a user of the NHS. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here


      The Pzizz app helps you quickly calm your mind, fall asleep fast, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed. It uses “dreamscapes” – a mix of music, voiceovers and sound effects designed using the latest clinical research – to help you sleep better at night or take power naps during the day. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here

      Student Health App

      The Student Health App provides easy access to more than 900 pages of reliable health information all in one place. The content has been created for university students by NHS doctors and is regularly updated. Use the app to reduce your worries, feel more confident and get the support you need at what can be a challenging time for any student. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here


      Superbetter is a game for those aged 13+ played in real life to build resilience and success. Playing superbetter unlocks heroic potential to achieve goals that matter. Helps to tackle challenges including anxiety and depression. For more information, click here


      TalkLife is an online peer support community for young people aged 16+ to get support for their mental health and the ups and downs of life. With 24/7 real time moderation and clinical governance, the app provides a safe and engaging global network for people to get instant ongoing support via their phones any time of day or night. For more information, click here


      ThinkNinja is a mental health app designed for 10 to 18 year olds. Using a variety of content and tools, it allows young people to learn about mental health and emotional wellbeing, and develop skills they can use to build resilience and stay well. This app is provided free by the NHS during the coronavirus crisis. For more information, click here


      Thrive helps you prevent and manage stress, anxiety and related conditions. The game based app can be used to relax before a stressful situation or on a more regular basis to help you live a happier, more stress-free life. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here


      Togetherall is an online community for people who are stressed, anxious or feeling low. The service has an active forum with round-the-clock support from trained professionals. You can talk anonymously to other members and take part in group or 1-to-1 therapy with therapists. This app is provided free by the NHS. For more information, click here

      Sleeping tips during exams

      The following tips will help you to stay on top during your exams.

      1. Make time for sleep

      The most important thing is to remember to schedule time for sleep. When you have to get up at a certain time, count back the number of hours you want to sleep and then add half an hour. This time becomes the scheduled time to switch the lights out. The extra half an hour is important – we often forget about the time it takes to brush teeth, set the alarm clock and so on.

      2. Watch what you eat and when

      Eating late meals because you have been studying all day will alter your internal clock and impair sleep. Although you should try not to go to bed hungry, try to have a big dinner before 7pm and then a smaller snack in the evening if you are still hungry. It’s thought that certain foods help sleep; turkey, milk, bananas, and walnuts all contain tryptophan, which the body uses to make melatonin. 

      3. Limit caffeinated drinks

      Although the impact of caffeine varies from person to person, try avoiding all sources of caffeine from 3pm and adjust if needed. Remember caffeine isn’t just in coffee – it’s also in things like tea, chocolate, and fizzy drinks.

      4. Make your bedroom a place of rest

      Checking emails or doing some last-minute revision in bed may stop your brain associating the bedroom as a place of quiet rest and, instead, the bed becomes associated as a place of cognitive arousal. This can make it hard to initiate sleep, so remove all distracting items from the bedroom area. 

      5. Don’t use your smartphone in bed

      Electronic devices emit noise and light; both will stop you sleeping. LCD screens on phones and tablets emit light that is blue enriched. This light influences the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) and delays the release of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin. Without melatonin, although you can sleep, the sleep you achieve will be light and non-refreshing. Light can also make you feel more alert, again training the brain to perceive the bed as a place of cognitive arousal.

      6. Have a bedtime routine

      Doing exercise is a great way to relax during the exam period, as it causes the release of endorphins and improves your mood. However, the endorphins released from exercise can also impair sleep. As such, try to avoid exercising within two hours of bedtime. Instead, use those few hours to create a relaxing bedtime routine – perhaps by having a bath with lavender oil, or sitting and reading a book.

      7. Clear your head before bed

      There’s some truth in the old saying that taking a problem to bed means you wake up with the solution – but don’t let the problem keep you awake.

      Sitting and ruminating over thoughts of the day will keep the brain active, so try keeping a notebook by your bed to write thoughts down before sleep instead. Meditation and breathing exercises can also help. 

      Smiling Mind is a FREE app you can download which has a study meditation section. For more information, click here.

      If you can’t drop off, don’t stay in bed trying to force yourself to sleep. Instead, employ the 15-minute rule: if you can’t sleep after what feels like 15 minutes, get up, leave the bedroom, and read or relax somewhere else. Only return to the room when you feel sleepy again. 

      8. Remember - one night of bad sleep won’t hurt

      Your day may be more difficult and you might need more coffee to function, but you will make it through the day after one night of poor sleep. Sleep is an autonomic function – you can’t force yourself to sleep, so worrying about not sleeping or the effect of not sleeping on the following day will impair sleep. 

      Try not to nap, but if you need to, keep any naps to less than 30 minutes in length and don’t take them after 3pm. Remember, after a night of poor sleep, you are more likely to sleep the following night!