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No matter how many exams you write in your life, you never get away from the stress! It’s because stress before an exam can actually be a good thing and help you perform at your peak. However, if the stress becomes all-consuming and interferes with your ability to perform optimally, then you have something called ‘test anxiety’.
Test anxiety is an actual psychological condition where the individual experiences extreme stress and anxiety before and during exams. It’s considered a type of performance anxiety and people become so anxious they are unable to do their best.
People who suffer from test anxiety will complain of ‘blanking out’ in the exam, finding it impossible to recall facts they definitely know. Others may have severe test anxiety and have panic attacks prior to the exam.
Some general symptoms include:
• Physical: sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, fainting, nausea, diarrhoea, or vomiting and ‘butterflies in the stomach’
• Cognitive and behavioural symptoms: avoiding situations that involve testing (skipping class or even dropping out of school). Using drugs or alcohol to cope with symptoms of anxiety. Memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and negative self-talk
• Emotional symptoms: depression, low self-esteem, anger, and a feeling of hopelessness.
Test anxiety can be caused by a number of factors, from fear or failure, to poor testing history or unpreparedness. Physical symptoms of nervousness such as nausea, sweating, and shaking hands can also make individuals feel even more anxious.
In order to manage test anxiety, consider the following actions:
• It’s okay to be human – if you’ve worked hard and done your best, it’s okay to not be perfect
• Try and banish negative thoughts, they are not serving you. Is there a positive mantra you can replace negative thoughts with when they pop up? Something like – ‘I am good enough and this is just a test’?
• SLEEP – enough said
• Make sure you’re as prepared as you can possibly be! Yes you need to put the time and effort in before. If you know you have a hectic week up ahead, plan your week out to give you small regular slots of study time, and stick to it. Your body will thank you.
• Breathe properly. If you don’t know how, download a YouTube video or yoga breathing course. Your brain will thank you.
May the VITAFORCE be with you!