Academics · Personal Development

Test Anxiety and Relaxation Techniques

Have you ever been so nervous for a test that no matter how long and how hard you study you still can’t seem to relax? Have you ever studied your hardest for a test, but when you walked into the classroom your mind went blank? Have you ever been so worried about doing poorly on a test that you spent more time worrying then actually studying? Have you ever felt so hopeless about the outcome of a test that you chose not to study at all?

If you have answered yes to any or all of these questions, you may be one of the many people who suffer from test anxiety. Feeling a little anxious about a test is not necccessarily a bad thing. It is okay to feel some amount of anxiety because this shows that you actually care about how you do on the exam. However, excessive amounts of stress and anxiety associated with academic tests can be detrimental to your performance, mental state of mind, and physical well being. 

There are many reasons why people experience test anxiety. In my experience, the best way to prevent and overcome test anxiety is through relaxation techniques. Different people may have different techniques to relax. 

Here are a few relaxation techniques that have been effective:

1. Positive self talk – If you tell yourself you will do poorly on a test, you are setting yourself up for failure. You will never do better than you allow yourself to do. So in preperation for an exam (and life in general), BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Be positive and stay calm.

2. Listen to calming music or relaxation CD’s – The sounds of rain, waves, wind, water, and nature are very calming and can help to relieve stress and relax your mind and spirit to prepare you for studying or for taking a test. Also, there are CD’s avaliable of people talking and giving calming advice and distractions to clear your mind of obstisicles that can present test anxiety. 

3. Pray or meditate – Whether you are a religious person or not, prayer and meditation can help relax people. Reading spiritual texts, listening to scripture, meditating, and allowing the mind and body to be calm can help with unneeded test anxiety.

4. Journal – Our lives are continuously filled with things to do, places to be, work to get done, etc. Sometimes it is hard for us to organize our thoughts, which can result in feeling overwhelmed.  An activity that can help greatly to relax is journaling. Writing all of your thoughts in a journal can be useful in organizing your thoughts, putting things in perspective, and releasing the added tension from our minds. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with everything else that is going on in our minds that we cannot even begin to think about studying or preparing for a test.  This will help us to get in the right mindset to perform our best.

5. Slience – Many people take for granted the need for alone time. Having a safe, silent place to be alone with your thoughts and to escape the craziness of everyday life can be very beneficial.

6. Fun & Breaks – A great way to relax is to take a break from studying for an exam and allow yourself to have some fun. Take a walk, play a sport, read a chapter of an enjoyable book, etc. If you do something you enjoy, you will feel better and ready to relax and concentrate on your studies and tests when you are done. NOTE: Physical activity is a great way to relax. When you participate in an aerobic activity, your body releases endorphines, which are given credit for relaxing and boosting mood. If you feel relaxed and happy, you cannot feel stressed and axious as well!

7. Get organized – Buy a planner so that you have everything written down that you need to do.  Allow yourself enough time each day to study, review, and do homework in each of your classes. 

8. Don’t wait till the last minute – Procrastinating is something that everyone does, however, if you try to break your studying up into small sessions, you will feel much more relaxed and ready when the time comes to take the test. Also, you will do better. It has been shown in studies that students who study in more, shorter study sessions succeed more often then students who study for a long period of time the day before a test.

9. Breathe – Focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath in threw your nose and out through your mouth. Expand your stomach and get as much air in as possible. Slowly let out the air and picture yourself releasing the tension, stress, and anxiety.

10. Avoid excess caffeine – If you have too much caffeine before a test, it can make you jittery, nervous, anxious, and uneasy. If you are a regular coffee drinker, do not completely avoid it, but limit yourself to 1-2 cups to reduce the negative effects of anxiety.

These techniques should help you to be better prepared for tests and ultimately help to relieve yourself from test anxiety!

What other relaxation and stress reduction techniques have you used that seem to work? Please share your ideas on our Facebook page for a chance to win a Relaxation Kit (including aromatherapy, a massager, and other items).

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