For many of us, college was absolutely the best time in our lives. The freedom and friendships made those four years incredibly special. But college isn’t all sparkles and unicorns. For others, college is a completely different and often negative experience.
As fun as it can be, it’s also incredibly stressful, especially when it comes time to take an exam. The bigger and more important the exam is, the more we tend to suffer from anxiety, and the less likely we are to do our best.
If this scenario sounds all too familiar to you, then use the following tips and exercises to help lower your anxiety before the next big exam you take:
1. Breathe Deeply
When we feel fear, our body can go into an adrenaline-fueled panic mode. This chemical and physical reaction is how our ancestors survived numerous threats. But in this state, our minds do not function properly. In fact, they often go completely blank.
When we take slow, deep breaths through the belly, we help our bodies go from the survival response to a relaxed response. This helps the blood flow back into our brain and helps us focus on the task at hand. Just breathe through your nose and inhale counting four, exhale counting eight. If you do it 4 to 8 times, it will already help your body to return to your normal state – or you can extend your breathing exercise by doing it 20-30 times – which promotes higher levels of relaxation.
2. Change Your Perspective
Most of us think of tests as something designed specifically to trick us. The truth is, if you have studied and are totally prepared, then the test is actually an opportunity for you to show off how much you know.
The other truth is your professors WANT you to pass. When you pass, they look good. So stop going into the exam with a negative attitude and go in feeling confident and knowing your teachers want you to do well.
3. Start Strong
To set the right tone for the test, scan it to find those questions you are 100% sure about and answer those first. This will help you feel confident and put your mind into a free-flow thinking state. Also help someone to study. This helps you to stay on task, and bounce information you need to know for the test.
4. Be Realistic
What is your history of taking exams? Have you generally done well in the past? Are you a good student that makes an effort? If so, remind yourself of these facts. It’s easy to have dramatic and unrealistic ideas floating around in your head right before an exam. Thoughts like, “I’m gonna fail and then I won’t pass the class and I won’t get my degree and will end up working at Starbucks the rest of my life if I’m lucky.”
This likely won’t happen so don’t make an already stressful situation worse by being unrealistic. Look at the situation in a positive way “I have studied about the same last time and I did well – I have a feeling this will happen again.”
Exercise the morning before your exam. This will not only release built-up tension in your muscles (make sure to stretch after your workout), but it will also release “feel-good” endorphins that will put you in a better frame of mind.
If you would like some extra help handling the stressors of academic life, please reach out to me today to schedule an appointment.
For further support for anxiety issues at college level, please contact Dr. Rosana Marzullo-Dove at 813-613-8587