Exam nerves or test anxiety
Do you suffer from Exam nerves or test nerves?
It is perfectly normal to experience anxiety leading up to taking a test or an exam. This is simply preparation anxiety and is there to help you prepare for giving the best possible performance. However, sometimes we can experience heightened levels of nervousness, anxiousness and even panic, when leading up to a test, whether it is SAT’s, National Tests in English, Maths and Science, GCSE’s, A levels (advanced level) or a driving test.
I have worked with students that have previously passed out, been physically sick or have experienced a panic attack whilst waiting for and exam to begin. And this doesn’t just affect the young! We can experience these problems at any age, in University, as a mature student or taking a driving test later in life, for example.
Our mind and body goes into the ‘fight or flight’ response in which our body prepares itself to either fight something or flee from something. Unfortunately, because we aren’t actually fighting anything or fleeing physically from something, our bodies hold on to all the physical and mental symptoms, such as the release of adrenaline in the brain and the diverting of the blood flow from certain parts of the body to the muscles, for example.
We begin to feel light headed and dizzy, our heart rate increases and our breathing can become shallow and choppy, shaking, butterflies in the tummy. And these symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and unwelcome.
There is so much stress placed on passing tests and exams that we tend to focus intently on the negatives, placing extreme anticipation of the event and building our feelings leading up to the event.
“what if there is a question on the paper that I haven’t studied”
“what will happen if I lose control”
“I may not know any of the answers”
“What if I fail”
“What will Mum or Dad say if I don’t pass”
There are so many negative thoughts that may build up before the test that it can be extremely difficult to think of anything positive.
This sort of examination anxiety doesn’t just affect students who are unsure of their own abilities, it also affects individuals who are very capable at the subject but have formed their own distorted view of their abilities in an exam situation.
The use hypnosis and certain psycho therapeutic techniques can help the person control their thoughts and feelings, allowing them to feel more comfortable in their abilities and help soothe the nerves both in the lead up and during the test or exam.
Try this breathing exercise to help immediate exam/test nerves and anxiety!
1. Sit up straight (or stand straight)
2. Close your eyes (if you can or if it is safe to do so)
3. Take a deep breath in through the nose. As you breath, count from 1 to 6 until your lungs are full. (tip. Breath from your tummy not from your chest)
4. Hold that breath for the count of 5 (or whatever is comfortable – If standing whilst breathing, hold it for less)
5. Breath out through your mouth as if blowing, again count to 6
This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system – Which effectively is the part of us that helps us relax and revitalises our body.
You can use this technique as much as possible. Practicing this often will teach your unconscious mind how to relax a little more quickly.
Another post on breathing can be found here.
Test anxiety is something you can overcome, you don’t have to suffer in silence. With the correct help you can face any test or exam with a new found calmness and confidence in your abilities.
For help and advice, why not call me free on 0800 849 94 94 or email me via the contact page or click here: firstname.lastname@example.org