Exam stress

It’s that time of year again…the pleas for help come in from students, A level and GCSE sitters, and a few ‘mature students’ doing postgrad work or doctorates, or even taking a degree for the first time. Help me concentrate. Clear my mind. Make me brilliant! Let me sleep…
The trouble is, some things that perk you up, like strong coffee or guarana gum, are not so good at allowing you to come down again and recharge properly overnight. If you overuse stimulants, you’ll get exhausted, and it won’t help your mental faculties. For effective study and exam technique, you need a clear mind and a steady hand. So what can you do?
The base of a good exam prescription would be herbs that ‘feed’ your nervous system rather than stimulating it; things like Vervain, Oat straw and St Johns Wort, backed up by calming aromatics like Limeflowers or Chamomile. They won’t make you sleepy unless you are already sleep-deprived, but they will help stave off panic and muddled thinking. In the morning, you could take some Rosemary or Gotu Kola to aid mental clarity.
If anxiety is a big problem, Valerian, Scullcap or Passion Flower may help. And if you have several weeks of exams to get through, a course of Siberian Ginseng will boost your resilience – but don’t be tempted to overuse it, or you’ll be back to sleepless nights.
Apart from herbs, the usual things apply. Good food, moderate exercise, regular breaks, and so on. And, of course…good luck!