Test Anxiety

Here are a few exercises you can try to help relieve the tension in your body. It can help you relax and boost your energy level.

Focal Breathing

Often, stress is a result of a lack of oxygen . This exercise focuses on breathing and optimizing oxygen intake on every breath. Start by exhaling all the air in your lungs. Exhale slowly for ten seconds. Then, keep exhaling until you feel your lungs are completely empty. Breathe in through the nose to a count of eight. Keep your shoulders down and focus on filling your rib cage. As you feel it expand,start to push down into your abdomen. You should feel your lower body expand and near the end , pressure in your lower back as your diaphragm lowers. Exhale slowly , focusing your breathing by shaping your lips in an ooh position . Pretend there is a candle in front of your mouth that you are trying to blow out. Focusing on this type of breathing will help to focus your mind as well as work tore-oxygenate your blood and re-energize your body.

Body Check

Sit down someplace comfortable and close your eyes. Focus on the muscles in your feet and notice if there is any tension. Tell the muscles in your feet that they can relax. Do the same with your ankles, then move up to your calves, thighs, and buttocks. Tell each group of muscles to relax. Work slowly being sure to scout out any tension that may be hiding in obscure places. Do the same f or your lower back,diaphragm, chest, upper back , neck, shoulders, jaw , face, upper arms, lower arms, fingers, and scalp. Pretend you are tracking an electrical current through your body that it starting at your toes and escaping from your fingertips and scalp. You may have to do this twice to be sure not to overlook any tension, but be thorough in your search.

Exercise Aerobically

This is more of a lifestyle than a practical on-site method. Still, it can help to reduce general stress and even improve your health. Do some form of exercise that elevates your heart rate and keeps it beating at that rate for twenty to thirty minutes. It should be something you enjoy, and that you can do at least three times a week. Aerobic exercise includes cycling, basketball , running, swimming , and tennis just to name a few.

Reducing Test Anxiety

  • Being well prepared for the test is the best way to reduce test taking anxiety. 
  • Space out your studying over a few days or weeks, and continually review class material, don't wait until the night before and try to learn everything the night before. 
  • Try to maintain a positive attitude while preparing for the test and during the test. 
  • Exercising for a few days before the test will help reduce stress. 
  • Get a good night's sleep before the test. 
  • Show up to class early so you won't have to worry about being late. 
  • Stay relaxed. If you begin to get nervous take a few deep breaths slowly to relax yourself and then get back to work. 
  • Read the directions slowly and carefully. 
  • If you don't understand the directions on the test, ask the teacher to explain it to you. 
  • Skim through the test so that you have a good idea how to pace yourself. 
  • Write down important formulas, facts,definitions and/or keywords in the margin first so you won't worry about forgetting them. 
  • Do the simple questions first to help build up your confidence for the harder questions. 
  • Don't worry about how fast other people finish their test; just concentrate on your own test. 
  • If you don't know a question skip it for the time being (come back to it later if you have time), and remember that you don't have to always get every question right to do well on the test. 
  • Focus on the question at hand; don't let your mind wander on other things.

Dos and Don'ts of Dealing With Test Anxiety

  • Don't cram for an exam. The amount you learn won't be worth the stress. 
  • Don't think of yourself or the test in a negative sense. 
  • Don't stay up late studying the night before. You need the sleep. Begin studying a week in advance if possible. 
  • Don't spend time with classmates who generate stress for you on test day. 
  • Don't take those last few moments before the test for last minute cramming. Try to relax and spend that time reading the newspaper or some other distraction.
  • Do remind yourself that the test is only a test. 
  • Do focus on integrating details into main ideas.
  • Do reward yourself after the test with food or a movie or some other treat. 
  • Do something relaxing the last hour before the test. 
  • Do tell yourself that you will do your best on the test, and that will be enough!

Source: Dr. Lynn Miller. Ph. D., R. Psych. II
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