Just the word can be enough to increase your stress levels for some people. We are at that time of the year again when many are sitting their GCSE and A-Level examinations and exam stress or exam nerves is something I hear people say they are experiencing quite often at the moment.
Helping people to deal with their exam stress or exam nerves is one of the main issues I help my clients with who come to see me, who want help with their studying. So I thought I would write this blog to share a technique for all those people who have not had the chance to work with me yet or who may need an instant solution to their exam stress because the exam is tomorrow!
Now the technique I’m going to teach you is one that you can defiantly do, I guarantee it because it is something that you are doing right now, you are breathing.
Below are the steps you need to follow for 7/11 breathing, it’s a particular way of breathing that helps your body trigger your parasympathetic system which helps you to relax.
To learn this I suggest you find a comfortable, quiet place so that you can focus on the steps, you could sit on the sofa, lie on your bed even sit on the loo if the bathroom is the only quiet room in the house, it doesn’t matter. Once you know how to do 7/11 breathing you will be able to do it anywhere, on your way to your exam, walking into your exam, during your exam, at anytime.
Ok so now that you have found somewhere quiet, place your hands on your tummy, this will help you to know if you’re breathing from the correct place. We need your breath to come from your diaphragm and not the upper part of your chest because breathing from here triggers your sympathetic system, your flight or fight response.
The 7/11 Breathing Technique
1. Take a breath in through your nose on the count of 7
Remember to breathe from your diaphragm, from your tummy. You should feel, see your tummy expand with air.
2. Now breathe out through your nose on the count of 11
Again breathing from your diaphragm/tummy, you should see, feel your tummy deflate.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 several times
Notice with each breath in and out you are beginning to feel calmer.
How are you getting on? Are you finding the counting hard? Do you find it hard breathing in on the count of 7 or out on the count of 11? Some people do and that is fine, we all have different ways of doing things and our lung capacity can be very different too!
So if this is you then try the steps again but this time counting to 5 on your in-breath and 9 on your out-breath. If you don’t like counting then don’t! The important thing is that your out-breath is longer than your in-breath and that you breathe from your tummy. It really is as easy as that, breathe in from your tummy and exhale a longer breath out from your tummy. Some of my clients imagine they are blowing up a balloon in their tummy if that helps you then fantastic!
So now you know how to do 7/11 breathing, practise it and use it whenever you are starting to feel stressed. The more you use this tool the easier and quicker you will feel yourself relaxing and will have a greater sense of being in control.
Good luck with your exams.