5 Exercises & Tips to Lower Your Anxiety Before a Big Exam
College can be a fun and exciting time in many people’s lives. The newfound freedom, friendships and learning opportunities of the college years is incredibly special. But college isn’t all fun, of course. It can also be incredibly stressful, especially when it comes time to take an exam. The bigger and more important the exam is, the more anxiety we may experience, and the less likely we are to do our best.
If this scenario sounds all too familiar to you, here are a few tips and exercises to help lower your anxiety before the next big exam:
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, we help our bodies go from the survival response to a relaxed response. This helps to signal to the nervous system that we are safe, and helps us focus on the task at hand.
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 instructors WANT you to pass. When you pass, they look good. By reframing your thoughts and assumptions about the exam, you may go into it feeling more confident 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.
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 negative and unrealistic ideas floating around in your head right before an exam. Thoughts like, “I’m going to fail and then I won’t pass the class and I won’t get my degree and I’ll never reach my goals.”
This likely won’t happen – or anything like it – so try not to make an already stressful situation worse by spending a lot of time worrying about unrealistic future scenarios.
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” chemicals in your brain that will put you in a better frame of mind.
Our team of therapists specializes in working with college students. If you would like some extra help handling the stressors of academic life, please reach out to us today to schedule a free phone consultation.