19. Exam advice – take it easy

Dear Isaac,

Breathercises…Breathing techniques are some of the quickest, cheapest and easiest ways to calm your mind so you can revise efficiently and sit your exam with focus.

Here’s a few to try before and during both revision sessions and the exams themselves. Do them as often as you wish – the more you do the more relaxed you’ll be. And you can do them whilst you’re reading or thinking.

Mindful breathing – breathe in slowly and fully through your nose and feel your chest, abdomen and stomach expanding one after the other. And as you breathe out through your mouth feel your stomach fall inwards first, then your abdomen and then your chest as you feel the air leave you. Repeat 2-3 times.

Stick your tongue out as far as it can go. Hold it out there for as long as you can. Draw air into you over it and blow air out of you over it. Then pull your tongue slowly back in on an in-breath. (I love making weird noises as I do this – but that probably says a lot about me!)

Alternate nostril breathing – is a little fiddly at first but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. Start by gently pressing your right thumb onto your right nostril to close it as you breath out. Keep it there as you breath in. Then let your right thumb off the nostril and gently press your first finger of your right hand to close the left nostril as you breath out. Keep it there as you breath in and then let your finger off the nostril and gently press your right thumb to close the right nostril to close it as you breath out. And so on.

Just keep breathing!

Scrunch your face up into the most amazingly awful look you can manage. Really stretch your facial and neck muscles as much as you can. And breath heavily and noisely!

Breathe slowly and with control in through the nostrils and out through the mouth for two minutes. Aim for between 4 – 8 breaths a minute.

Breathe in slowly as you quietly count to 6, hold this for a count of 8 and breath out slowly and with control for a count of 10. Do this for 1 or 2 minutes if you can. 

Put your palms over your face and lean forward. Feel its weight, its temperature, its contours – just hold it. Go ahead and press your fingers and palms into your face as much as you like and even rub your face if you want to. Feel your breathe.

4 Slightly longer relaxation techniques

1. Relax your whole body bit by bit. Start with your toes – curl them tightly for one breath. Now relax your toes fully. Now tense your toes, feet and calf muscles as tightly as you can for one breath whilst keeping the rest of your body relaxed. 

Do the same moving up through your body – tense each part for one breath and then release: 

  • your buttocks and legs,
  • your lower back, stomach and abdomen muscles, 
  • your shoulders, chest and upper back,
  • your arms and your hands and fingers and then
  • your face muscles.

And finally slowly tense and release every muscle you have.

2. Be with your friends and be sociable. Be with your friends face-to-face and have some fun if you can. 

3. Watch a funny movie or video clip and laugh aloud. Try doing this until your face aches and your stomach hurts and then see how stressed you feel then!

4. When in the shower imagine you’re under a waterfall and the water is tingling as it washes over you. Imagine it’s special water full of energy that has the ability to go into you. In fact, imagine it passing through you. It’s flowing through every cell of your body from top to toe. As it does this it’s washing away all your worries, your stress from every cell and replacing it with massive confidence that you’re learning well and revising well.. 

I love relaxing.