GCSE mocks can be a stressful time for students, as a reminder of the approaching summer, and as a succession of exams in solemn silence. It is important to keep yourself healthy during mocks, because a healthy body means a healthy mind. This can mean exercise and good eating, as well as taking time to breathe.


Stress triggers the fight or flight instinct, which was developed as a response to danger, and can therefore activate the immune system. Adrenaline, a hormone that prepares the body for danger, is released and can cause a high heart rate and hyperventilation. It is common to feel stress in mocks, especially since they’re often the first time students experience exam conditions. Furthermore, long revision periods can create a sense of dread leading to mocks, allowing pressure to build. However, this can be resolved.


During revision, while it is good to work hard and be thorough, it is also very beneficial to take small breaks to allow your mind to relax. This can help to prevent stress. Creating a revision timetable can allow you to ensure that you can cover all topics while giving yourself time to breathe. For example, during holidays, you can take a day to simply relax, and schedule brief walks in between revision sessions. Furthermore, you can plan outings with friends to ensure that a feeling of isolation is not created, while allowing yourself to revise by discussing the subjects with fellow students. 


Additionally, keeping healthy has multiple physical and psychological benefits. Regular exercise prevents the aches that are synonymous with constant revision, since studying often comes in the form of sitting hunched over books. Exercise releases various hormones that help to relax the body and maintain health. For example, serotonin contributes to a feeling of wellbeing and happiness as well as regulating sleep cycles, and dopamine positively influences the attention span and your ability to learn. Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain, allowing it to function in a healthy manner with the correct amount of oxygen and nutrients. 


Eating healthily also has a very positive effect on the quality of your revision and your stress levels. Oily fish, such as salmon, contains protein and omega-3. These help the brain function in a healthy way. Dark green vegetables such as broccoli contain a wealth of beneficial nutrients; vitamin K, nitrates, antioxidants, B6 and B12. All of these improve memory, alertness and building pathways in the brain. Fresh fruit contains naturally occurring sugars that are both delicious and a healthier source of sweetness in comparison to chocolate. Darker coloured fruits, such as blueberries, contain antioxidants. These prevent ‘free radicals’ (harmful substances produced for example by pollution) from damaging cells in your body.


Breathing properly may seem rather obvious, but often it can be ignored. It is good to reduce stress by taking a minute to relax and concentrate on taking deep breaths. This can help to clear the mind and allows more oxygen into the body. This process is especially beneficial to asthmatic people, who are more vulnerable to hyperventilation when stressed. The process of careful breathing alleviates stress and allows the body to regulate your heart rate, and nerves.  


Overall, mocks and the time leading up to mocks can be very stressful. It is important to exercise, eat healthily and have time to relax in order to perform well in exams and avoid panicking. To summarise this, take time to breathe.