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  • Writer's pictureDesert Bloom Counseling

Conquering Exam Anxiety: 5 Effective Exercises and Tips

College years can be a thrilling journey of self-discovery, friendships, and freedom. However, it's not all rosy. The academic pressure, particularly when it's time for a significant exam, can be overwhelming. The more crucial the exam, the higher the anxiety, which can hinder our performance. If this situation resonates with you, here are five exercises and tips to help you lower your anxiety before your next big exam:

1. Practice Deep Breathing

Fear can trigger our body's panic mode, a survival response that served our ancestors well but leaves us with a mind that's essentially blank. Deep, slow breaths can help shift our bodies from this survival response to a relaxed state. This shift allows blood to flow back to our brain, enabling us to focus on the task at hand.

2. Shift Your Perspective

Often, we perceive tests as traps designed to trick us. However, if you've studied and prepared thoroughly, an exam is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge. Remember, your professors want you to pass—it reflects well on them. So, approach your exam with a positive attitude, confident in your preparation and knowing your success is also your teachers' success.

3. Start on a Positive Note

Set the right tone for your exam by scanning it for questions you're entirely sure about and answering those first. This strategy can boost your confidence and put your mind in a state conducive to free-flowing thoughts.

4. Maintain a Realistic Outlook

Consider your history with exams. Have you generally performed well? Are you a diligent student? If so, remind yourself of these facts. It's easy to let dramatic and unrealistic thoughts cloud your mind before an exam. Thoughts like, "If I fail, I won't pass the class, I won't get my degree, and I'll end up working a minimum wage job for the rest of my life." Such catastrophic thinking only amplifies stress. Stay realistic and grounded.

5. Incorporate Exercise

Engage in physical exercise on the morning of your exam. Exercise can release built-up tension in your muscles (remember to stretch afterward) and trigger the release of endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones. These endorphins can put you in a better, more positive frame of mind.

Navigating academic life, particularly when it comes to exams, can be stressful. But remember, exams are not insurmountable obstacles but opportunities to showcase your knowledge and learning. By incorporating these tips and exercises into your routine, you can manage your exam anxiety effectively and perform at your best.

If you need additional help in handling academic stressors, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. They can provide further strategies and support to help you navigate your academic journey with less stress and more confidence.

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