Exam stress - how magnesium can help, and other tips
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
Who’s experiencing a bit of added teen stress in their household this term? The weather is warming up, summer holidays seem tanatalisingly close, and our children are keen to get out and about and have fun with their friends.
First they have to sit their exams.
Exam season can be stressful. For the teens and their family. For many different reasons.
Your child might be worried they’ll fail or not do well enough to get the university place they’d like.
They might be struggling with the workload or not understand some of it.
They might feel external pressure.
They might be concerned about other things in their life that have nothing to do with exams.
They really don’t see the point in exams and would rather be doing anything else than study!
There are some websites with handy, practical tips for students and their parents in the lead up to exams. We’ll pop a few at the end of the blog.
Our main piece of exam time stress-relieving advice is this – incorporate transdermal magnesium into your teen’s daily routine.
Good levels of magnesium are known to help:
Lower stress and anxiety levels
Promote restful sleep
Help with learning and memory
Support the immune system
Ease muscle tension and cramps
That last one is a goodie – I work as a reader/writer for students sitting exams. Which doesn’t give me stress. But sure can give me cramps! When did you last handwrite anything longer than a shopping list? 90 minutes of solid writing is way more tiring than you think on your hand muscles. Imagine our students having to do that for several days in a row. Luckily magnesium oil can be applied directly to the affected areas, and massaged in for quick relief.
My hands are much more used to typing than writing these days. Which is handy, because I’m about to type a whole bunch more -
Let’s take a look at how magnesium helps with all those points above. And then, why it’s nice for your teen (or anyone who’s studying, feeling stressed etc) to get their magnesium through their skin rather than from a tablet.
How magnesium can help at exam time
Lowers stress and anxiety levels
Magnesium plays a strong role in supporting your adrenal glands, which get overworked when you experience stress.
Magnesium is necessary for the production and function of serotonin – your brain’s feel-good chemical.
Promotes restful sleep
Magnesium enables your body to maintain healthy levels of GABA, an amino acid that helps your brain slow down into a relaxed state ready for sleep.
Helps with learning and memory
There are certain brain receptors, important for learning and memory, that depend on magnesium for their regulation.
Supports the immune system
Magnesium improves the white blood cells' ability to seek out and destroy germs.
Why use transdermal magnesium?
Transdermal simply means ‘via the skin’. The solutions we offer are absorbing magnesium from our magnesium salt bath soaks, or magnesium oil sprays.
Of course we can get magnesium from the food we eat, and it’s always a good idea to encourage healthy food choices. But I know from experience this can add to the levels of tension in the house! According to my children, the best foods to support studying for exams are 2 minute noodles, biscuits and cups of tea. They definitely do not believe their mother that all three of these actually REDUCE your magnesium levels and can leave you feeling more stressed!
You can supplement with magnesium tablets or drinks, but they aren’t always palatable, and it’s believed that they lose some of their ‘power’ as they are broken down by your digestive system.
A bonus of transdermal magnesium - it isn’t just about quickly and easily topping up your magnesium levels. There is an element of ritual about it that adds an extra layer of support during times of stress.
For example, by taking an Epsom salt bath in the evening, your child can experience a proper break from studying. They can move away from their desk and the stress associated with those piles of books and past papers (old school I know – most of it is on hundreds of open tabs on the computer screen now).
In the bath they can properly rest their mind and body. They can practise deep breathing, listen to a meditation, or their favourite music. Or watch a programme that makes them laugh. It’s like a mini reward after the work they’ve done.
This way they’ve upped their magnesium which in itself calms the nervous system, as well as physically helped themselves to relax and reset.
When our boys feel stressed or generally a bit hacked off with things, their go-to is a warm Epsom salt bath. I suspect it also helps that their parents can’t nag them in there!
If your child doesn’t like to bath, they can use one of our soaks as a body scrub in the shower. Showers can be an amazing, cleansing, physical and mental boost between periods of studying. Though sometimes in this house it feels more like it's the studying that happens in the breaks between showers! Procrastination is a tried and tested method here.
Get your child to block the plughole with a face cloth so the magnesium from the soak will pool at their feet and be absorbed. As long as they don’t intend to stay in for a whole album’s worth of loud songs – there could be some floodage!
Lastly we’ve got magnesium oil. This can very much be part of a relaxing ritual that is restorative for mind and body. Great applied shortly before bed, it can be massaged into the soles of the feet, or any area that feels tense. For example forearms and wrists if they’ve been doing a lot of typing or writing. Or the back of their neck and shoulders if your child has a tendency to get tension headaches.
Self massage can be soothing** and adds to the de-stressing effects of the magnesium.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR PARENTS!
Don’t forget yourself! You’re possibly feeling stressed too. The calmer you appear, the more likely your child is to feel calm too. The less wound up you'll become, and the more you'll be able to help them. So run yourself a relaxing bath with your favourite Salt & Oil soak, light a candle, play some mellow music.
And remind yourself that none of us are at our best when we’re stressed out or under pressure and that “exams don’t measure how intelligent, caring, generous, funny, or generally wonderful your child is”.*
NB - Magnesium is an important mineral for your and your child at any time, not just exam time. If you maintain good levels of magnesium on a daily basis, it can help you cope better with the everyday stressors that add up to cause tension and anxiety.
At Salt & Oil we make magnesium-filled bath soaks and magnesium oil sprays to help you relax and feel good. And we support other NZ businesses by stocking their well-being gifts.
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