Parents' Guide to Exam Stress #3 Stay Connected

Spending time with friends or family is essential for good mental health – that applies to both you, your teens and young adults. Particularly during this exam season.

As a parent, carer or guardian you may feel this is the time for young adults and teens to cut back on socialising. And of course, it is a time of focused and concentrated revision. However, the nature of that intense learning process means it’s even more important to wind down and relax between revision periods. And to stay connected with friends and family.

When we share activities and socialise, it helps keep serotonin level steadily flowing. And we know that serotonin is known to be the most important neurotransmitter to maintain our mental wellbeing and build our resilience.

Social engagement – not virtual bit real - and shared endeavour is rewarded with feel good neurotransmitters. When the chemicals in our minds and bodies are in balance, so are we.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter than sends messages between nerve cells. As the precursor for melatonin, serotonin helps to regulate the body's sleep-wake cycles and regulate our internal clocks. Setotonin is most commonly understood to play a part in regulating emotions, but it also plays a role in appetite, motor, cognitive and autonomic functions although neuroscientists are not entirely sure how. But we do know that low levels of serotonin are linked to depression.

And we do know that a steady flow of serotonin is linked to mental health and wellbeing.

One of the reasons I studied and practice Solution Focused hypnotherapy is that it helps to regulate levels of serotonin naturally, reducing anxiety and improving mood. So does active social engagement, being heard, cared for and valued.

Oxytocin is a hormone secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, a small structure at the base of the brain. It's sometimes known as the 'cuddle or love hormone because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially. It’s more important that your child feels secure and loved more than ever. Even if they shrug off physical contact, they need to know they are loved whatever the outcome of their exam.

Even hanging out with friends helps maintain the steady flow of endorphins, particularly serotonin. Doing things with friends and family deepens bonds, and allows teens and young adults to feel supported and secure.

Your teen will feel happier, unwind more easily and become more resilient with a healthy degree of weekend socialising with friends, and shared family time. So don’t worry that your teen is not studying all the time. There is only so much that can be absorbed and regular breaks, and down time are important to allow the subconscious mind to process and absorb what has been learnt during study periods.

So encourage young adults and teens in your family, in your care, pr in your life from to plan social events with friends, or sharing family times. Even during the run up to exams.

Subscribe to my Sense-Ability blog for 8 tips for parents and carers supporting teens during the stressful exam season.

Photo courtesy @elevate on Unsplash