An Observatory Practice hypnotherapist is focusing this month on the issue of stress caused by exams as many people start to revise (or cram) for those oh-so-important examinations this summer. Thousands of people up and down the country will be taking an exam of some sort during the late spring and early summer. Other than the obvious (GCSEs, A levels, and Degrees) there are many people taking exams leading to professional qualifications, and many rely on a good pass grade to obtain a place at university or college, a professional qualification leading to employment, or even being able to KEEP their job. All very stressful and, although most of us get through exams without too much difficulty in the end, there are a significant number of us for whom the pressure can become too much, leading to poor results, or being physically unable to participate in the actual exams resulting in associated negative outcomes. The Observatory Practice hypnotherapist Nicola Parker says “It is completely normal, and in some ways a positive thing, to feel some anxiety around preparing for and taking exams, just as it can be with other important events in life. A little bit of anxiety, that ‘nervous tension’, can actually act as a motivator and can help the person to focus their attention, keeping the mind alert. However, exam stress becomes a problem when it reaches a level where it interferes with the ability to prepare for and perform in exams. Too high an anxiety level interferes with clear, coherent, and creative thinking and can also create a negative mindset, which in turn can lead to panic.” Nicola is a practitioner of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH). SFH is a modern research-based combination of hypnosis and psychotherapy, which promotes relaxation and helps clients to make beneficial lifestyle changes. “Hypnotherapy is a great way to reduce stress and create new positive study habits. It can help during study periods and also help on the day of the exam itself because you are feeling more in control and relaxed. It can also improve and restore confidence and the motivation to succeed. “ Nicola suggests that Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be beneficial for anyone taking exams, but suggests that students who have been away from study for some time can be especially prone to stress and could benefit greatly from Hypnotherapy to get back into the rhythm and discipline of studying. The Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy’s (AfSFH) primary aim is to promote the benefits of the Solution Focused approach to improving mental well-being, thereby helping to ensure the public are more aware of this valuable resource. Nicola is a member of the AfSFH and is very enthusiastic about the efficacy of SFH in the management of examination stress. “We know that too much pressure can lead to stress and a range of physical and mental health problems. You don’t need this at any time, but especially when you need to be on top of your game and get those grades! Stress affects the way you think, feel, and behave, impacting every area of your life. Hypnotherapy offers powerful techniques and strategies to enable you to deal with exam stress and to help you think and behave in a more positive way which has many benefits prior to, during, and after those exams”. Nicola explains how it works: “We encourage clients to focus on how they want things to be. We avoid problem-talk and instead help our clients to visualise their preferred future. By encouraging clients to think and express themselves positively, we can help to improve their outcomes.