Ever been sat in the exam hall at the old wooden desk with every swear word and obscene image scribbled on to it ever and thought your heart would come out of your chest? Ever sat there and felt you needed to bolt immediately and go to the toilet? Ever wanted to never turn over the paper in front of you that determines a year’s worth of work?

Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not alone. That’s why I thought I’d share some of my top pre-exam calming techniques. They’re not crazy and people probably won’t even notice you’re doing them.

  1. Have a bobble or bracelet on your wrist? Use it

I keep a bracelet on my wrist (as well as a bobble/hair tie) at all times and it allows me to fiddle with it and occupy my thoughts on one particular thing. My bracelet has round wooden beads on it and I count each one, going round and round.

If you have a hair tie, you can ping it on your wrist (not so much it pains you, but enough to keep you occupied) or wrap it around your fingers. Keeping your thoughts occupied on one object is a great coping strategy.

  1. Breathing is key

Even if your breathing isn’t erratic, you can calm yourself by focusing on it. When you’re in the hall, take deep breaths in and out. Mentally repeat ‘in’ when you breathe in and ‘out’ when you exhale. It’ll moderate your anxiety and once again give you something to focus on.

  1. You know that voice inside of your head constantly narrating your life story? Change what it’s saying

Most of the time, the voice in our head is telling us that this exam will not be pretty and we’ll make a mess of it all.

You can change that internal dialogue. Overpower it by consciously telling yourself that this will be fine and that you can do it. Encourage yourself. Don’t be defeated – it might just be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Good luck with exams!