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Counselling association offers exam advice to students

The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy chair urges students to “mind their mental health in the face of exams”

Written by Hannah Byrne | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news

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The run up to exams can be a stressful time for any student, but those heading into their Junior and Leaving Certificate exams next week might be feeling extra pressure. While study and revision is important in this final stretch, students also need to take time to be mindful of their stress levels and look after their mental health, says the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP).

Stress at exam time

According to a study carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of the IACP, 48% young people surveyed under the age of 25 listed exams as the number one cause of stress in their lives.

The chair of the IACP, Ray Henry, said: “The pressure surrounding exams can be extremely anxiety-inducing for young people. It can be a contributing factor in mental health issues amongst students.”

Mr. Henry advised students to remain positive.

How to reduce stress at exam time

Mr. Henry offered the following advice to students facing exams next week:

Seek help

If you find yourself worrying a lot about exams, reach out to someone and talk about it. Sometimes simply getting it off your chest can make a huge difference, but telling someone about what’s going on can help you to find the support you need.

“Those feeling anxious about exams should seek help from: friends, parents, an IACP accredited counsellor/psychotherapist, a guidance counsellor, a teacher or a doctor.”

Remember what is important

“Try to keep your perspective, your results are not the true measure of your value as a human being.”

Although these exams may be important right now, they are not the most important thing in your life, and the results of your exams having nothing to do with who you are as a person. There is more to you than just your academic achievements.

Be realistic

“Set realistic goals that are within your means.”

It’s easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself at exam time, especially if you start comparing yourself to other people. Try to be realistic with the goals that you set and focus on what you can achieve.

Eat well

Eating well at exam time can play a big role in your exam performance.

“Healthy eating can be very helpful in boosting memory and concentration. A well-balanced diet can do wonders for your mood and mental health.”

Get some exercise

“Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Try to get at least 30 minutes each day if possible.”

Getting exercise doesn’t have to mean joining a team or the gym. There are lots of ways to get exercise without going to the gym, even for people who don’t like sport.

Get some sleep

“Aim to get 8 hours sleep a night if you can, and put down the books an hour before bed and relax the night before the exam.”

Finding ways to relieve stress can help you to feel more confident and focused at exam time. If you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, you can consider going for counselling.

You can find a list of accredited counsellors and psychotherapists in your area at

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Published May 31st2019
Tags exams exam stress IACP
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