11 May Mental Health Awareness – How Essential Oils Could Support your Focus during Exam Periods
It’s all about Balance… Short-term stress can be useful in achieving goals and is a great driver for success if it is managed well. While there will be a lot of focus during exams, it’s important to keep life balanced and to remember that there’s still more to life than studying. A balance of work or revision, some activity or exercise, socialisation and sleep are a great combination to ensure the stress doesn’t take over.
Sleep should be a restorative experience and is important for your overall well-being but sometimes if minds are overactive and you can’t stop thinking or worrying it can be hard to drift off. When trying to sleep, make your environment a quiet sanctuary and some rest-inducing Essential Oils can support your relaxation and help quiet a busy mind. Try popping a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil into a diffuser or onto your pillow before sleep, or a few drops on a microwaveable heat pack can work wonders too.
Research has found that exercise in any form can help reduce occasional stress and provide a natural distraction. Taking 30 minutes a day to focus on movement, whether that’s going for a walk, practising yoga, or attending an exercise class, exercise can support moods and help manage stress. Just don’t forget to hydrate as dehydration can impact concentration.
Struggling to Focus? Essential Oils could help with concentration levels.
Each Essential Oil has its own specific uses and Bergamot Essential Oil has been studied extensively for its ability to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety; an uplifting oil, it also increases positive feelings. Rosemary, Clary Sage, Peppermint, and Eucalyptus Essential Oils are great choices for improving concentration. Our Focus Blend is a stimulating and awakening blend, containing a synergy of essential oils including Rosemary, Basil, Peppermint and more. It has been blended by our expert aromatherapists to help naturally awaken the mind, and boost concentration. The blend has a fresh, herbaceous aroma; simply add 5-6 drops to an oil burner or diffuser to create a fresh and focused atmosphere. Some of these Essential Oils in particular have ‘cephalic’ properties which means they could actually help to stimulate the mind and improve concentration levels. The strongest Essential Oil of these thought to have cephalic properties is Rosemary – but Peppermint, Basil and Cardamom are also effective too. Other stimulating oils include Grapefruit, Lemon, and Spearmint. Try a few drops of any of these in a diffuser or on a handkerchief to inhale when needed.
Manage you own Stress the Natural Way
School exam periods often take place in summer when you may be restricted to working in a stuffy room in warm temperatures. We’ve come up with this lovely cooling gel which will be refreshing and can aid your focus in exam conditions. In a small, portable jar, combine 20ml of Aloe Vera Gel with 4 drops of Rosemary, 2 Basil and 2 Peppermint Essential Oils. This can be used as a pulse point or skin gel to soothe nerves and help you feel positive and awake.
Massage is of course also known to be a great stress reliever and a gentle neck and shoulder massage can ease tense muscles after a day of hunching over a desk or computer. This is something you can do yourself, but it’s better and a lot more relaxing if someone else can do it for you. We love Essential Oils such as Black Pepper, Roman Chamomile, Ginger, Helichrysum, Sweet Marjoram, Lavender, or Rosemary, which when added to a carrier oil to bring blissful relief to those tight, stiff and aching areas. When used this way in massage, the blended oils can be absorbed through the skin into muscles and can potentially increase blood flow to the area. A soothing warm bath with Essential Oils is also just the thing to help relax tight, tense muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Simply add 6 to 8 drops (total) of your chosen Essential Oils to the bath and disperse them evenly. To aid restful sleep, try mixing a few drops of Lavender oil, or our Goodnight blend, to a teaspoon of our Bath Dispersing Oil and add to warm running water for a relaxing pre-bedtime bath the night before an exam so you can sleep soundly and wake ready to go!
This month we are chatting to Mr. Tom Hastings who has been a Secondary School teacher for almost 20 years. As a Pastoral Leader he specialises in supporting children through their exams every year at this time.
How does stress exhibit itself in secondary school-age children?
Heightened anxiety in some young people can affect sleep and eating patterns. In some extreme circumstances it can lead to unhealthy coping strategies, extreme worry and upset.
What affect can too much stress have on academic performance at school?
It can be counterproductive. A little bit of stress and anxiety is not a bad thing; it shows the students care and can refine their approach and keep them motivated to do well. However, those students who are overcome by the stress see a negative effect on their academic performance, as they are less inclined to absorb information during their studies and revision. A lot of energy is expended on worry and that emotion tends to dominate the mind space leaving less room for subject specific information and skills, leading to cognitive overload.
What tips do you have for students during exam periods to improve their wellbeing?
Keep exercising, eat well, stay hydrated… get the basics right and have a routine. Remember to be kind to yourself and talk to people.
What can students do at home to improve their focus while revising or during exams themselves? There are lots of positive things they can do, here are a few points to consider:
- Minimise distractions (loud noises, other people, TV etc.)
- Talk to your family/housemates to gain their support and understanding.
- Create a supportive and productive working environment… For example, work at a desk in a quiet part of the house and make your environment pleasant and comfortable.
- Stay hydrated, eat well, and get plenty of sleep and exercise. This should form part of the routine as much as the actual study.
- Reward yourself where appropriate, this could be little things like a bath, a new magazine or a trip to meet friends.
What can students do if they feel overwhelmed or worried?
Talk to family, friends and peers. Become familiar with wellbeing apps such as ‘Think Ninja’ and ‘Kooth’. Be aware of the wellbeing and pastoral package your Educational Setting offers such as Student Support Services or Welfare Officers. Get to know yourself – learn your triggers that may lead to feeling overwhelmed and stay within your limits.
Remember… Your best is always good enough!