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Relaxed revision: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you ever felt that nerves got the better of you in an exam?
  • Your mind went blank?
  • You just did not perform as well as you could have done even though you had put the work in?
  • Do you really feel that you get the most out of your revision time?

If any of these statements ring true to you then read on……..

For many people the examination period is one of the most stressful times in their academic careers. The idea of relaxed revision might, for most, appear to be a mutually exclusive concept.

However, there follows a few simple strategies to reduce the associated stress, and help you to maximise your knowledge and revision time. Who knows at the end you might actually enjoy the whole exam experience!

Start as you mean to go on!

Before you start revising think about your working pattern, and really get to know your strengths and weaknesses:

  • How do you work best?
  • When do you work best, are you a morning or afternoon person?
  • Do you need many breaks?
  • What sort of environment do you prefer?
  • How do you look after yourself whilst revising, do you build in treats and relaxation times?
  • Do you have a good support network whilst revising such as friends or family or tutors?
  • What do you personally find most stressful about revising?
  • What do you find most relaxing and rewarding about the revision period?
  • Do you have realistic expectations of yourself and your goals?

The answers to the above may change over time, and remember there is no right or wrong response. The questions are merely a way for you to learn more about yourself in a certain situation.

On your marks, get set, GO!

Physical preparation

As with athletes before they run a race, they warm up and stretch. Before you start revising it is important that you mentally clear you head, and relax you mind and body with simple portable exercises.


It seems obvious, but as you breathe in and out on average 25,000 times per day it is important that you get it right. In times of stress or increased tension, most people have a tendency to hold their breath or breathe in a tense fashion. This can in turn leads to neck and shoulder tension, reduced concentration skills, and reduced energy levels to name but a few symptoms! Hardly an ideal scenario for the revising mind.

Test your breathing now as you are sitting down.

Breathe in - Do you lift your shoulders and pull your tummy in? If you do, try it the opposite way around. Relax you tummy and aim to keep your upper chest and shoulders still. This will feel strange at first but should feel like a deeper breath.

Next place your hands in-between your ribs at the front, and say ha!ha! Do you feel that movement? That is your diaphragm area or "chuckle muscle", nicknamed thus as when you laugh it gets a jolly good workout!

Very simply, when you breathe in your lungs fill with air, and your ribs swing laterally to make room for the expanding lungs. Your diaphragm muscle, a large dome shaped muscle is attached to the base of your ribs and as you inhale it flattens to form a drum skin like base for you breathing.

When you breathe in you should aim to fill the base you your lungs as this is where the richest supply of blood is. Please note that there is no mention of pulling your tummy in or lifting your shoulders!

Now think of your breathing in three stages, inhalation, exhalation and the pause in-between. Try to make all the segments of equal length, and from your centre, not your upper chest and shoulders.

One simple way to check your breathing tech