Anxiety is a normal part of taking a test. It can feel like butterflies in your stomach, a quickened pulse, or sweaty palms. The adrenaline response to anxiety causes some of these physical reactions. Some anxiety for a test can be great. A mild adrenaline response can help your stay focused and give you mental stamina to complete your exam. However, too much anxiety can be distracting and prevent you from recalling the necessary information.
The number one way to combat anxiety is confidence. The best way to build confidence is to study diligently. Planning a few minutes every day to review, read, and organize your notes will help you stay ahead of the game. Reviewing regularly will prevent you from having to cram, which will raise your stress and anxiety levels. When cramming is your only method for preparation, you can’t build the confidence you need to ward off anxiety.
If you have studied and prepared, but are still experiencing some anxiety, there are some tools you can use to help relieve your anxiety. Exercise is a great tool to relieve stress and prevent anxiety. All it takes is a daily brisk walk to keep anxiety at bay and help your brain stay focused. If you have trouble exercising on your own, join a sport, go to a class at the gym, or ask a friend to do an activity with you.
Deep breathing is another tool you can use to relieve anxiety. Deep breaths, low into your belly, delivers oxygen to your brain and other organs, giving you a boost of energy. It also helps recenter your focus. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that a group of participants that were taught deep breathing techniques for eight weeks showed improvement in sustained attention, as well as lowered levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress response hormone. Ultimately, it showed that there are positive physical effects associated with deep breathing. The sooner you start practicing this technique, the easier it will be to start employing when you feel stressed.
A proactive approach prevents anxiety on exam day. If you feel like these tools aren’t helping you beat anxiety, and it is negatively impacting your scores, ask for help from your school’s counseling services. They may have ways to help you address your anxiety so that it doesn’t hinder your performance.