Exam anxiety is extremely common in students across the nation, included with around 40 million American adults who suffer with general anxiety each year. Anxiety can have a detrimental effect on your health with physical problems including headaches, fatigue and muscle tension. In some scenarios, severe anxiety can lead to depression.
While mild exam anxiety can be a stimulus for change which encourages us to study more efficiently, sometimes it can spiral out of control, making students avoid the study process altogether.
With many students suffering in silence, College News explores ways to help you overcome exam anxiety, before the big test day arrives.
Identify what exactly is making you anxious
Identifying the root of your anxiety puts you in a prime position to resolve it. Anxiety comes in many forms; fear of failure, fear of falling short next to your peers or pressure from parents, to name a few.
If the root of your anxiety stems from falling short next to your peers, resolve it by studying with them. Studying with classmates means you will be working on the same material, and anything you’re struggling to understand can be discussed as a group to help you clarify the details. Working with others in this way may help to reduce exam anxiety.
If pressure from your parents is causing exam anxiety, then talk with them about your concerns—you might be surprised at how supportive they can actually be! Ultimately, this learning experience is entirely yours and you should work with your own future in mind.
Eating a balanced diet
A healthy body makes for a healthy mind. Caffeine has been shown to impede the levels of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling happy) that the brain produces. Lack of serotonin is what makes us irritable and low. Prevent this by cutting down on coffee, sugary drinks and food and make sure to get enough sleep to improve your mood and sense of wellbeing.
Talk to a tutor or therapist
Vocalizing your concerns helps you to solve the problem at hand. You’ll find that a tutor or school therapist can give you advice or might be able to further aid you in your progress—such as giving you a more private room to take your exam in, or extra time to do it in.
Heidi Hanna, PhD and CEO of Synergy said “When we have chaotic surroundings or a fragmented mind set, the brain can perceive this as a sign that there is more demand for energy than our current capacity, which triggers the stress response,” in an article by dailyburn.com.
This is where organization tactics come in. Being organized connects you with your sense of control which ultimately reduces stress and anxiety. Make a timetable that divides revision needs into achievable chunks and reward yourself for every completed session. Rewards can be little, like a square of chocolate or an hour break outside, for example. Sticking to a timetable gives you an idea of when you are able to take in the most amount of information, so you can work towards a routine best suited for you.
What are your go-to ways to reduce exam anxiety? Let us know!