Overcome Exam anxiety
Anxiety can be understood as, ‘feeling of uneasiness and discomfort pertaining to uncertain outcome’. It is our body’s natural response for future concerns. It is a feeling of worry or apprehension oriented to future like- ‘what will happen’. It is common to experience it on occasions like: before an important exam such as board exams, semester exams, university entrances or other competitive exams. Adolescents may also feel this way, while going for an interview, delivering a speech and other similar experiences.
This feeling of anxiety is a signal from our internal warning system to our mind and body for being prepared to face unpredictable/unplanned or dangerous situation.
Similar to Eustress (positive stress), optimal levels of anxiety is essential or helpful as it encourages us to do well in exams and make us mentally prepared for taking the exam. However, anxiety turns to be problematic when it starts negatively impacting our studies, relationships and even health.
Usually anxiety is resultant of internal factors such as brain-chemistry and irrational thoughts or fears. Though there is no particular external cause of anxiety, it is very subjective i.e. vary from person to person.
Following are few general factors that may cause exam anxiety:
· Academic or work related stress
· Previous performance
· Less preparation time
· Parental expectations
· Lack of schedule
· Future association
· Societal pressure
Following are few ‘Warning Signs’ that reflect if an adolescent is experiencing high-level or prolonged anxiety. It is essential to recognize these signs in order to manage this feeling before it gets out of control and may take shape of Anxiety Disorders (link).
· Worrying excessively
· Avoiding things that trigger anxiety
· Feeling a sense of impending danger
· Often feel restless
· Needing reassurance, more than usual
· Difficulty concentrating or being attentive
· Withdrawing or cancelling plans
· Getting easily irritated
· Increase in heart rate and difficulty in breathing
If you feel like you are at a point where, your exam anxiety is just not going away and is significantly affecting your performance in exam or interfering with your routine activities, we highly encourage you to seek help.
Different people handle anxiety in different manner. While some methods are healthy others may not be healthy. A particular method can provide a long term relief while another may be effective only for a short period of time.
Avoidance oriented- It refers to ‘leaving it’ or to the act of ignoring the existence of the problem. Here one tries to reduce the anxiety by distancing self from the trigger. Being hopeful that things will be fine eventually.
Task oriented- It refers to focus on working and indulging in regular tasks or having interventions that will help you being functional superficially.
Emotion oriented- It refers to focus on feeling or lifting mood these strategies or activities that are employed to divert attention away from anxiety triggers and toward other thoughts or behaviours that are not related to the anxiety. Such as binge watching a series/movie or hanging out with friends or doing anything that makes you feel good.