Beat Stress for Exam Success Workshop
I have recently finished working with some awesome Grade 7’s and 5’s. We did 2 two hour sessions over two days, a one on one coaching session during exams and finished off with a final catch up.
They were all very enthusiastic and eager to learn how to not feel so “scared” about their exams, how to learn better and how to not shake and go blank during exams.
It was a great group to end the year off with, so much enthusiasm, lots of laughs and
loads of “A-ha” moments.
Understanding how emotions impact our physiology and ability to perform
The first session was theoretical, and took a bit of brain power (not so ideal on a Friday afternoon) but they were so brilliant and I think the popcorn and jumping up and down every now again helped with the concentration. Seeing their faces when learning how their emotions impact their heart rhythm patterns, which in turn impacts their ability to think clearly, remember well and make decisions was priceless. So many different stories were shared about how they made silly mistakes in exams and about times they have experienced when they did or said stuff that was most definitely not ideal in the moment. Having the opportunity to share these stories and hear other’s stories was eye opening and refreshing. This helped them to see that they were not alone in their experiences.
So the big question was, how do they change their anxiety? How do they have more control over their emotions and behaviour and ability to write exams well? Well, that’s what the programme was all about.
Towards the end of the first day I asked for a volunteer to try out one of the techniques. I have never seen so much energy and excitement in a room spike as I did in that moment. They were all so eager to be “hooked up” to the technology they almost all rugby tackled each other to get to the front of the room. The lucky winner, demonstrated such a beautiful shift. He went from a baseline coherence score of 45% with a jagged inconsistent Heart Rate Variability pattern to 100% coherence with a beautiful wave like heart-rate variability pattern. He said that afterwards he felt invincible. The others all reported feeling calm, and focused; all from doing a simple Heart Focused Breathing Technique.
Feedback after exams and practicing the techniques with bio-feedback technology
The next morning one of the girls came bouncing in so excited to tell me all about her hockey match she played that morning. She said she started getting tired and wasn’t able to play the hockey she wanted to play. She remembered to stop and take a few HeartMath breaths. After she did this, she said she was back in the game, she was more focused and was able to see who she needed to pass to better. She was so amazed at the different it made to her hockey game!
Such a beautiful example of how these techniques and this awareness of the impact our emotions have over our physiology and how to self regulate are transferable to any situation. If this little girl continues like this and makes the HeartMath techniques part of her daily practice, it will have the most wonderful impact on her life moving forward.
The second day was all about practicing the techniques with the technology so that they could literally see what was happening on the screen (looking at the impact of the techniques on their nervous system and coherence). They thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the games.
We finished off the session with steps and strategies to building and sustaining their resilience to be the super students they want to be.
Building and sustaining resilience to be super
In the final session, we discussed how the techniques helped during the exams. They all reported that it helped a great deal. They remembered to practice before the exam to help remain calm and to not “stress”. They felt they were able to manage their anxiety well and do the best they could.
One of the girls told us the story of when she started to panic during one of her tests. She chose not to let her emotions get the better of her. After doing her breathing technique she felt calmer and more focused and was able to not go blank!
Results from the Bio-feedback technology
I took baseline Heart Rate Variability and coherence baselines for each student at the start of the programme, and again a month later in the last session. There was a shift in physiology for every student. Their heart rhythm patterns were more coherent and consistent. This means that they now have more resilience and an increased ability to cope better with whatever comes their way!
One student in particular increased her resting coherence score by 94%! This is excellent! It means that she is much more resilient and able to manage her emotions, especially anxiety, much better than she was before she started practicing the techniques. She confirmed that she practiced every day and was very aware when her body started to feel uncomfortable. This shows how her commitment to herself to practice daily has been the best gift she could give herself.
Skills for life
Overall, all the students believe they learnt new skills that help them to feel more in control of their emotions and behaviour to study well and write exams well. They all agree that these techniques help them in any situation that they may perceive as being stressful.
I pray they all continue with their practice. Learning these self regulation techniques at such a young age can only give them an advantage. They are being taught everything at school, except for how to understand their emotions and how to manage them to ensure that depleting emotions don’t hold them back from achieving their dreams. With continued practice they will keep feeling and experiencing the difference.
I thoroughly enjoyed working with each one of them and I look forward to the next workshop in the new year!