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Overcoming Test Anxiety

 

With final exams well underway the Counseling Department would like to remind students that a few simple strategies can make exam season manageable. The strategies below, taken from Psychology Today remind us that we can tame test anxiety with mindful attention to our own needs.  

If you would like Individual support throughout the school year counseling is available by booking an appointment with Mrs. Gill, Mrs. Palomaki (Counseling Centre) or Mrs. Salvatore (rm 129).

Good luck on those exams! 

5 Strategies for Overcoming Test Anxiety -  (Psychology Today)

1. Change your mindset

Do you see stress as a friend or enemy? Most people would say enemy because stress is usually associated with loss of sleep, headaches, poor eating habits, and the list goes on and on. But what if you change how you thought about and interacted with stress? What if stress wasn’t trying to screw up your life, but rather it was trying to help you? In fact, studies have shown that stress isn’t a big problem to your health, or your life for that matter? The problem lies in whether you perceive stress as a friend or an enemy. As an enemy, stress can wreak complete havoc on your life, but odds are you already know that. In reality stress is not your enemy. It wants you to be ready to excel at what you are doing. The mission of stress is not to destroy you, but to help you out. Studies have found that those who understand and accept stress actually live happier lives and aren’t any more prone to disease than those who experience minimal stress in life. If you want to change your response to stress, you have to change your mindset.

2. Plan your time wisely

You’ve got a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time. So, how are you going to tackle this task? The most efficient and productive way is to come up with a study plan. Map out what you need to accomplish and then break the task into small manageable pieces. You probably know by now that cramming will only make your stress levels skyrocket. So, give yourself plenty of time to properly prepare. First, get organized. Start by reviewing the material you will be responsible for knowing and next sort through your notes. Last, develop timeline to review the material and stick to it. Give yourself a few days to spare at the end of your timeline for a final review of all of the notes. Remember, the final review is a just a review, not a cram session.

3. Cover the basics

Basic #1 – Eat well. Your body needs good fuel (food) to work efficiently. Research shows that when people are stressed they often opt for ease and convenience which often translates to junk food. If you want to give yourself the best shot at acing that test then fill up your tank with premium foods and eat nutritiously. On another note, there are also some foods that contribute to and exacerbate anxiety and stress levels. You may want to steer clear of these foods and beverages in stressful times, as they can make your anxiety levels increase.

Basic #2 – Get some shut eye. Sleep is a great way to soothe anxiety and stress. Sleep helps calm the nerves by letting your body and mind relax and reset itself. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed, you may not be getting enough sleep. In a sleep survey approximately 18 percent of teens reported that when they do not get enough sleep, they feel more stressed and 36 percent say they feel tired because they are stressed. So, if you want to give yourself a running start at a good grade, be sure to unwind, get some extra ZZzzzz time.

Basic #3 – Get moving. Exercise has so many great benefits, such as improving your mood, giving you more energy, and helping to decrease stress. With benefits like those, it’s a mystery why so many people report that they don’t do it regularly. This exam season be sure to schedule some extra time to clear your mind by going for a run, walk, bike ride or sign up for a yoga class!

4. Live in the Present

It’s important to take time in your day to regroup, collect your thoughts and focus on living in the present moment. The ability to live in the moment is called “mindfulness.” Often you may get so busy thinking about what’s going to happen in the future (whether you’re going to pass the test) that you may forget to pay attention to what is happening right in front of your nose. Put some time in your day to focus on what's happening right now in your life. Go outside and listen to the sounds that fill the air, see the colors of nature that surround you, feel the breeze as it brushes across your face, breathe in the scents of fresh air, and feel the warmth of the sun embracing you. Take time to be present in the moment, not only will it refresh your senses, but it will help calm your nerves too!

5. Take care of yourself

In life we have to carve out some “me time.” I once heard it said that "Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to it.” Talk to yourself positively. When life throws you a curveball say, "I can handle it, " "This will be over soon," or "I have handled difficult things before, and I can do it again." Remember - stress is not your enemy, it’s just trying to help you get through this part of your life.

Wishing you an exam season that is free of test anxiety. 

Resources:

https://well.wvu.edu/articles/reducing_your_test_anxiety_is_as_easy_as_1...

http://www.ctl.ua.edu/CTLStudyAids/StudySkillsFlyers/TestPreparation/tes...

http://stress.about.com/od/studentstress/a/test_anxiety524.htm