School days are mostly a distant memory for me but just like recollections of adolescence, there are still moments that come back to either haunt or amuse me. For example—although I enjoyed it—I can remember rugby training on rock-solid, frozen or snowy ground in the winter being more than a little uncomfortable. And running ten times around the pitch in belting heavy rain on deeply mucky ground was no barrel of laughs either. During that training we learnt a technique for kicking successful penalties or conversions. Our coach would make us focus on seeing the ball going straight through the posts before we took the kick. We had to project an image from our mind onto the sky above the uprights and see clearly how the ball would sail straight through. (The crowd would rise to their feet and pummel the air shouting my name, and after a dozen laps of honour I would be carried to the dressing room on burly shoulders whilst hundreds of fans scrambled and jostled to pat me on the back…) Anyway, the focusing system worked, to an extent—though mostly for people that didn’t let their imaginations run away with them. The technique of focusing on success, however, is nothing new and today it is often used in life-skills training. So it was amusing to see research published recently about how to help students deal with the stress caused by exams. The research, from Royal Holloway, University of London, suggested that adopting a ‘this too shall pass’ attitude and mentally projecting themselves into the future could help teenagers deal with stressful situations. ‘With results day looming’ said the report ‘stressed teens should imagine themselves several years in the future’. The theory is that such mental projection could help teens deal with stress, reminding them that no matter what happens, their current situation is only temporary. ‘Much like an adult in a traffic jam, or being forced to sit through a meeting they’d rather not be in, imagining a point after the situation is over can be an effective stress reliever,’ explained Dr Catherine Sebastian. By the time this is in print most people’s exam results will be out and hopefully there will be somewhat reduced levels of stress in many households. Then we can relax, breathe a sigh of relief and revert to more mundane worries about the present, or even the future, in the happy knowledge that the current situation is only temporary.