“…Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it…”

This week’s #WellnessWednesday message comes from Kingswood’s Learning Support Specialist Ms Ghida Bernard. For this week, with our Matrics well into their exams, and our other grades soon starting their exams, Ghida looks at how mindfulness can aid exam success.

Preparing for exams take a lot of self-control, will power and energy. It takes purposeful effort to prepare and prioritise tasks in a way that would support us in reaching our goals.

Researchers at Harvard University’s ‘Centre on the Developing Child’ has highlighted two processes that can assist us in doing just that: Executive function and self-regulation skills.

In general, these terms refer to “the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.

Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.”

Changing the manner in which we learn at the end of the year is not always realistic or feasible, however, what is very possible is implementing strategies to enhance and support us to give the best we can with the skills we have developed.

One such strategy that is easily added to anyone’s daily routine and been linked in research to support executive function and self-regulation skills, is mindfulness practice.

This loosely refers to the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. This can aid the reduction of negative emotions and anxiety, which can often overwhelm learners during stressful exam times.

If you are new to mindfulness, I would recommend finding a guided practice such as available on the CALM app. It has a lovely introduction to mindfulness and have short sessions (5-10 minutes) that you listen to.

They have developed sessions for primary school and high school pupils as well as adults. There are also a lot of free resources available online to get started if you feel that this might be helpful to you or your child. When we are grounding ourselves in the present moment, it relieves us of the worries and anxieties of what happened yesterday or what might need to happen tomorrow.

We can ‘take a break’ for just a moment which sometimes can be very useful in helping us to manage our own emotional well-being and thus be better prepared for challenges that we might need to face.

All the best for the exams and the preparation.

Remember to take 5 minutes to just check in with yourself, be it through mindfulness/meditative practice or otherwise!

Who is Ghida Bernard?

Ghida Bernard is a qualified Occupational Therapist registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. She completed her undergraduate studies in Occupational Therapy (OT) at Stellenbosch and her MSc in Perceptual Disorders (OT) at Wits. At Kingswood College, she assists the learners in the Junior School with additional learning support to fully benefit from the rich learning environment offered. Her special areas of interest include Self-Regulated Learning, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Educational Assessments, Emotional Regulation, Anxiety and Perceptual Disorders. She is a keen trail runner and enjoys music, gardening and art. Her husband is a marine biologist working in Makhanda and they have 3 wire haired pointers called Mungo, Molly and Chicko. The family love the Eastern Cape and plan to stay here long term.