Adolescence has always been a challenging time but with the ever present pressures that come with social media and the increased expectation and focus on examinations, rates have been on the rise. Add to this concerns around climate change and the significant effect the pandemic has had on mental health and well-being and it is hardly surprising that more and more young people are struggling.
A 2021 follow up report to the Mental Health and Young People Survey (MHCYP) 2017, found that 39.2% of 6-16 year olds had experienced a deterioration in mental health since 2017. This increased to 52.5% for 17-23 year olds.
Physical symptoms include shortness of breath, increased heart rate, trembling, sweating, headache, tiredness, sickness and tense or aching muscles. You may also notice difficulty with concentration, poor sleep, angry outbursts, loss of appetite (or overeating), crying, fidgeting, constant worrying and being more socially withdrawn. Some people may experience panic attacks or extreme physical symptoms just before going into an exam or even just when thinking about an exam.
No formal examinations have taken place in the UK for the past 2 years and 2022 will see the return of these exams for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Exam settings are already not ideal for putting an individual at ease - they are usually in large halls, with row upon row of desks and upwards of 150 people, not to mention the strict systems and procedures in place, need for silence and invigilators on patrol. In the case of GCSEs, students can be required to sit around 20-25 separate exams over a period of 5 weeks. With each exam lasting 1-2.5 hours, that is a tremendous level of mental effort required over a sustained period. Add to this the fact that most students will require a particular result in order to progress to their chosen next stage of education or training and the pressure to perform increases further. The stakes are high!
Success in exams is not just about academic ability and unfortunately even the most capable students can fail to fulfil their potential as a result of their anxiety having a debilitating affect on performance. No wonder young people are struggling!
The good news is that all of the negative and unwanted effects of stress and anxiety can be addressed using hypnotherapy. Through achieving a state of deep relaxation and positive visualisation, hypnotherapy can help address negative thoughts, physical symptoms and instil more helpful responses and behaviour both inside and outside the exam room. Whilst the pressure to perform can’t be removed, the subconscious mind can be trained to be able to better cope with the pressure and awaken an individual’s inner confidence.
In addition to this, hypnotherapy can help with motivation to revise, instil good study habits and promote a healthy lifestyle. Hypnotherapy can help establish the best possible mind set for success.
I have 12 years of experience using hypnotherapy to help young people, in both individual and group sessions, with exam anxiety from GCSE to degree level. My approach is always based around each individual and their specific needs.
I have 18 years experience working in secondary education in a range of roles. As a qualified teacher who has prepared students for exams myself, I understand the pressures on young people from staff, parents and themselves. I have an understanding and experience of exam procedures, access arrangements and how schools operate during the build up and throughout the exam period.
I have experience of building positive relationships with young people and working with stress and anxiety through my roles within leadership, safeguarding, Special Educational Needs and pastoral care.
I myself found exams from GCSEs through to university an incredibly difficult experience and whilst I was always fortunate enough to achieve the results I wanted, I would have jumped at the chance to make the whole experience more manageable and to feel more confident in myself.
It is important to keep in mind that hypnotherapy is not a magic pill or a quick fix and as such, a "cure" can never be guaranteed. Results may vary from person to person.
After a successful course of hypnotherapy, individuals feel confident, self-assured, calm and in control before and during each exam. There is a real motivation to revise but a healthy and effective balance is achieved, which ensures that well-being is maintained, including rest, healthy eating and time to relax. This ensures the best possible mindset for success throughout the exam period.
There are often reported positive knock on effects to other areas of life and long after the exams are over. Self confidence is such an important characteristic and when awakened, tends to grow and grow.
Contact me if you need any further information and to arrange a free no-obligation initial consultation, which parents/carers are welcome to be part of. If you are under 16 then speak to your parent or carer about your interest in using hypnotherapy to help with exam anxiety as their consent will be required to book sessions. I hope you have found this information useful and feel more confident in the possibility of hypnotherapy as a solution.