Testing times

Whether it’s at school, college or university, right now young people across Scotland are likely to be swapping time with their friends for study sessions in the library, thinking about their futures and probably wondering what they covered in that class 6 months ago. Yup, it can only be exam time.

At Girlguiding Scotland, we believe that every young person deserves to learn about mental health and wellbeing, so they can keep themselves well and ask for help when they need it. This is especially important during exams, as we know that this can be one of the most stressful periods in a young person’s life.

Our research shows that girls and young women feel pressure to do well in school. Coupled with the worry of being bullied, of not feeling safe and experiencing sexual harassment and sexism, it’s important that girls know where to get help if they are feeling stressed, but we know that 16% of girls don’t know where to turn. Equally important, is that those with a role in a young person’s life are confident they can help and can offer support.

Learning how to de-stress is key

There’s lots of ways we can help young people as they start to revise and sit their exams. We are supporting the new campaign by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) called Testing Times, that encourages young people facing exams to discuss their emotional well-being openly, both with their friends and adults in their lives. We know that mental health isn’t always an easy topic to talk about, that’s why we’re so pleased to see supporters of the SAMH campaign sharing their own personal experiences of anxiety.

We’ve been supporting young members to take the lead and get talking with Think Resilient

Our innovative peer education program helps tackle stigma and promote well-being. By spreading the message that it’s completely normal to feel stress around exam time and that it’s okay to ask for help if you’re struggling to cope, is a strong reminder to young people that they are not along. Often speaking with a person we trust about what’s on our mind can make a real difference in how we feel.

Beating stress is also about self-care

It’s important to remember some self-help techniques in the run-up to exams like being able to recognise when we are starting to feel overwhelmed. Switching between different study spots can be a good way to have focus and keeps boredom at bay. Sticking to a revision schedule also means avoiding revising late into the night and getting a good night’s sleep. And if you’re feeling anxious and have lots of built up energy, why not hit the gym or go for a walk? Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and helps us de-stress.

One last thing to remember…

While exams are important, they don’t need to define us. It’s great to do well, but if things don’t go to plan then that’s also okay. Lots of things help us succeed, including our work ethic, attitude and friendships and if things are getting too much, there’s always someone to talk to.

Get more info

For more ways to de-stress, check out SAMH’s top tips here.