As if everyday life isn’t stressful enough, exams are just yet another stressor that our young adults can face. In among social media, fashion trends and school pressures, exams can really add to the mental load.
According to ReachOut, over two-thirds of young people are now experiencing "worrying levels" of exam stress. A national survey of 1000 young people aged between 14 and 25 revealed those experiencing worrying levels of exam stress had increased from 51.2 per cent in 2017 to 65.1 per cent in 2018.
To clarify this even further, that is more than half of our children who are classed to be at “worrying levels” of stress.
As parent we can sometimes feel completely helpless, not least because more times than not we can’t support the learning outcomes, but also because we see our child trying to cope with this additional anxiety.
We wanted to put together our top tips on how you can support your child successfully navigate exam stress.
How you can help your child overcome exam stress?
Keep the body happy and healthy
One of the key actions that you will have complete control over is keeping your child’s body healthy. This can include providing nutritious meals, ensuring your child is hydrated and even getting your children outdoors for a little exercise.
Exercise is an important part of improving brain function.
A recent Harvard article has stated that “researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.”
Cooking your child’s favourite meal can also be a great way to help reward and provide them with a sense of achievement and success, as well as keep their energy levels up.
Provide moral and functional support
As a parent we can help greatly by providing a constant source of positive support and encouragement. You may often hear - “I can’t do this” or “I’m going to fail” - it’s at this stage where we have settle the nerves and help normalise stress.
Remind them that stress is perfectly normal and is what helps us perform as human beings – if we were never stressed, we would be an exception!
It is perfectly understandable that children try to compare themselves to others, however we must focus on efforts on making them understand that we are all individuals and learn in different ways. Remind them that the right amount of effort will achieve results.
As for functional support - assist by asking them what they have learnt, work through the outcomes they are trying to achieve and offer to plan key revision areas with them.
Discuss techniques to help cope with stress
A great way to help cope with stress is practising mindfulness and this can come in various forms. Mindfulness-based practices have been shown to reduce stress, and make negative thoughts seem less threatening.
A great technique is by using breathing exercises, there is one technique called the ‘four-seven-eight’ that can help centre and calm stress.
It helps by focusing attention on breathing and also tricks the body into feeling more relaxed by reducing an accelerated heart rate.
Other mindfulness techniques could include using positive mantras such as “I can do this” or “I will be ok”. Your child can repeat to themselves when they start to have negative thoughts about their study achievements.
If you are looking for a more technological approach, ReachOut have provided an excellent list of mobile apps that can help work through stress and promote mindfulness.
Just as exams are a struggle if you do not prepare or review, a family who is underprepared can also struggle greatly during this stressful period. However, as a family, together you can create and implement strategies that can promote calmness if considered early enough.
If you feel that exam stress is overwhelming yourself or your child, we have the expertise to support and have appointments available. Click here to contact us.
R U OK? Day is thankfully well recognised now in our communities, however has the message really hit home? Would you know how to have a conversation with someone you care for that can have wide ranging impacts?
Too often, we simply overlook the depth of such a simple question – are you ok?
We need to look past having a superficial conversation and truly understand how to ask someone if their life is providing them with the joy they deserve.
What are the fundamentals of an impactful conversation?
R U OK? Day focuses on four key areas - Asking R U OK?, Listening, Encouraging Action, and Checking In.
The first step to having that chat is to Ask R U OK?
You should consider choosing the appropriate time and place and making sure you’re not rushed when you’re having that conversation.
If there is someone you are worried about, it’s important you yourself feel as equipped and prepared as possible to provide support. Your eyes and ears are your best assets, you will know when the best time possible time will be, based on your knowledge of the person.
The second step is listening.
Listening is more than just letting the words seep into your mind, it about listening with an open and sensitive mind. This is all about letting that person share their story, so use open questions and give them the time and space to share.
Thirdly is taking the right action.
Once you have used your open mind and listened, it’s important to encourage some form of action. This is about helping them identify the next steps that they can take to better manage the situation.
This could be a range of different activities ranging from simple self-care of eating well and exercising through to accessing appropriate professional support.
The next step in the cycle is to check in.
Checking in is a critical part of having an impactful conversation, it allows you to circle back and re-assess the situation with the person who is struggling.
It’s important that you see how they’re going, see how they’ve gone with the actions that you talked about, and just making sure that they’ve got that support network around them.
It’s also a perfect time to remind them that they know that people care, and that people are looking out for them as they’re going through this tough time.
What happens if someone says they are not ok?
It is so important to know how to respond if someone says they’re not ok and you must have an understanding on how to proceed with the conversation.
The RUOK website does provide you with some clear steps you can take to show someone that they’re supported, and how to help them find strategies to cope during this time.
At Haven Psychology we are also available to support those who are supporting loved ones who are having troubled times.
Asking someone if they are ok, is a powerful action. An action that has far reaching implications.
If someone replies that they are ok, they’ll now know you’re someone who cares enough to ask. And if they’re not, you could significantly change their life with just one question.
If we were to define trauma, what would it be?
According to Beyond Blue – “Trauma touches our lives in many different ways; a serious accident, a physical assault, war, a natural disaster, sexual assault or abuse. It might affect you or those you love. These events can be traumatic as they cause a threat to your safety and/or the safety of others.”
As individuals, we all react differently to certain situations in our lives, and in turn we all have to cope with different symptoms and feelings associated with trauma. We wanted to discuss some of the key signs to be aware of before they can affect you on a deeper level.
What are the key signs of the body and mind dealing with trauma?
We sometimes assume that trauma can only affect us mentally, but there are many ways the effects can physically manifest themselves:
If you have any concerns about any of these signs and feel like they may relate to you, it might be time to seek experienced help to support you managing your journey.
At Haven Psychology we provide expert care during this process and one of the key methods we use to support you is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
What is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy?
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive technique which we use to help process the severity and intensity of the trauma.
During EMDR sessions, we help you process the event or experience in a managed environment while our trained clinicians directs your eye movements. This is done by tracking your eye movements, similar to that of REM sleep. As each set is completed, the memory tends to reduce in intensity until it becomes a neutral memory, rather than a relived experience.
This form of treatment can be very effective because recalling distressing events is often less emotionally upsetting when staying in the present time frame rather than the time of the experience. This allows you to process the memories or thoughts whilst reducing the strong body sensations and psychological response.
Over time, we have found this technique can minimise the impact that the memories or thoughts have on you, so that they are no longer as intrusive, as intense, or as unbearable.
If you feel we might be able to help you, contact us today for more information or to book in a session with one of our EMDR therapists.
Every relationship is unique, and every relationship faces its own issues and road blocks along the way. We all long for a loving, supportive partnership and this is no different for same sex couples.
At Haven we work with same sex and gender diverse couples who face relationship issues and specialise in understanding the struggles they face. Often, we see couples deal with not only partnership struggles, but couples who are also managing past pressures such as negative societal and family attitudes, communication and identity issues and feelings of isolation.
Haven Psychology offers a safe and supportive space to help LGBTQI+ couples navigate their relationship and personal challenges, and we understand that sometimes it can all seem too complex to manage.
Relationships form an integral part of our lives, and maintaining a strong bond is no different for any couple. In this blog we wanted to touch on The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, created by renowned clinical psychologist and marriage researcher John Gottman.
What are The Seven Principles for Making Marriage/Partnership Work?
1. “Enhance your love maps.”
Happy couples spend time understanding every detail about their partner, they support and encourage what makes them unique. Take the time to appreciate the little things – perhaps this is a favourite book or memory – it’s the little things that matter.
2. “Nurture your fondness and admiration.”
Successful couples learn to create a strong bond of admiration of each other, sometimes we can lose track of this admiration so it’s important at times to revisit the reasons why you fell in love with them in the first instance.
3. “Turn toward each other instead of away.”
Every day life can be taxing and busy, Gottman explains that it’s important to keep a strong bond even in the mundane every day life. Sometimes a simple sign to say you care could be an “I love you” text message, it’s about taking time to acknowledge your partner.
4. “Let your partner influence you.”
Happy couples are a team that considers each other’s perspective and feelings. They make decisions together and search out common ground. Letting your partner influence you isn’t about having one person hold the reins; it’s about honouring and respecting both people in the relationship.
5. “Solve your solvable problems.”
Successful couples deal with their issues immediately and calmly, there is no time left to build resentment. Good communication is key and taking the time to appreciate and understand each other’s values and concerns.
6. “Overcome gridlock.”
According to Gottman, at times we can face gridlocks which are larger than every day issues and problems. Gridlocks are described as “dreams for your life that aren’t being addressed or respected by each other.” If left unchecked, gridlocks can be very damaging so these need to be understood an addressed.
7. “Create shared meaning.”
A loving supportive relationship is about sharing a meaningful life that resonates with both of you. Meanings can range from culture, to family traditions, to hobbies and pastimes. A couple that has a deeper understanding of their partnership and what happiness looks like to them - naturally succeed.
As we stated at the beginning, each relationship differs from the next however all relationships are the same in that they are underpinned by principles that, if followed, can lead to long term happiness.
We welcome all couples and individuals from the LGBTQI+ community to our clinic and value their uniqueness. Effective counselling can support each couple in creating stronger, life long bonds.
It may be a completely over used cliché, but relationships are fluid. They ebb and flow, they have droughts and floods, they remain stagnant if left to their own devices.
Unfortunately, when it comes to long term relationships, there are times when that precious pool of water dries out and we see resentment start to creep in. Essentially, we start to lose sight of our partner and how important they are to us, and we forget how to maintain the day to day of our relationship.
Resentment is a hard beast to conquer, if left alone it can build and grow like a huge dam in a river and starts to block all the good that flows. We wanted to provide you with a few tips on how you can help reduce that resentment and start to re-build the foundations with your partner.
How To Reduce Resentment and Start to Re-Build
Use “I" statement feeling terms, but don’t use “you.”
Finger pointing is damaging for all involved, by putting all the blame or emphasis on your partner you can start to alienate them. Try bringing the conversation to how it makes you feel, and how it can be resolved.
Here is one example about how to phrase dissatisfaction over another partner’s actions: "I feel hurt that our safety, and the safety of others isn't a priority as fixing the car is taking longer than anticipated. What can I do to assist in making sure our car is road-worthy? I'm concerned for us all, and willing to do what is needed so that we can relax and enjoy ourselves."
Count to ten before speaking.
Anger can be the fuel to so many issues. Too often we blurt out words that we often regret and have no reflection on who we are when calm. The age-old tactic of counting to ten is something that cannot be overlooked – stop, breath, think and then reply.
Practice active listening.
Repeat back what you heard in order to confirm you understood and affirm your partner’s feelings - seems simple but can be hugely effective.
Physically connection comes in all shapes and forms – from a simple hug to being intimate – physical closeness can help ease a huge range of issues.
In fact, even science has proven this fact!
“A very simple, straightforward behavior — hugging — might be an effective way of supporting both men and women who are experiencing conflict in their relationships,” explains co-author Michael Murphy, a post-doctoral researcher in Carnegie Mellon University’s Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity and Disease.
Meet somewhere neutral.
Sometimes getting away from home or the place where you spend a lot of time can serve two purposes.
One, a relaxed setting with fresh air can lend itself to openness, as well as taking things less seriously. Secondly, it takes all negative feelings away from the house. The last thing you want is to have negative feelings about the place where you spend most of your time.
Engage in daily empathy actions.
Empathy is not necessarily a default feeling and needs some retraining to become par for the course. Routine empathy can be checking in with our partners about how they are feeling, looking them in the eye, and regularly giving the benefit of the doubt. Once empathy becomes intrinsic behavior, resentment often becomes a thing of the past.
If resentment if playing a role in your relationship, we're here to help - book in an appointment with us today.
All of us go on an emotional health journey throughout life. The ups and downs of life eventually can take its toll and usually there’s only one person who suffers the most – you.
We can lose sight of ourselves, and our purpose in life. It’s all too common to see people who forget their own strengths and the value they bring to others.
Real self-worth comes from a much deeper source within us. It comes from an inner acknowledgement that our pursuits are genuine and worthy, regardless of other people’s opinions.
Self-worth grows from a place of awareness and action. If you’ve lost sight of your value, let’s look at some ways to help build you back up.
What are some simple ways to help rebuild our self-worth?
We all can lose sight of ourselves and our value, if you need help to restore that self worth - book in a consultation today.