An exam is always a heart-pounding event for a person regardless of their age. For many, its result can be vital and strongly impact the future. Before an exam, during an exam, and even sometimes after an exam, it is natural for most individuals to become nervous and even reach a state of panic. Therefore, it is important to research test anxiety tips to help calm nerves before an exam.
However, stress and anxiety are not helpful when it comes to focusing on the upcoming test. The fact is, the various parts of the human brain are not able to evenly distribute energy under stressful conditions, leading to a deterioration in its functioning. For example, if a person is in a dangerous or emotionally stressful situation, the tonsil activates causing the survival instincts to emerge. At this time, the other parts of the brain which are responsible for storing information and completing high-order tasks, begin to slack. In other words, the state of nervousness significantly affects thinking and memory, which is the most essential processes needed for successful completion of an exam.
Given the intense amount of stress on the brain, it is essential to be able to calm down before the upcoming test. Hence, here are 6 tips to help restore self-control and concentration before an exam.
6 Test Anxiety Tips to Help Calm Your Nerves:
1. Deep Breathing
One of the easiest and most common test anxiety tip is belly breathing. Our breathing accelerates in stressful situations, which only causes us to worry more. Accelerated breathing requires frequent breaths of air that reduce the amount of oxygen needed for the adequate functioning of our body and brain. In comparison to this, belly breathing is deep and slow. If you practice belly breathing and control each inhale and exhale, while sitting in a comfortable position, your brain receives a message that everything is okay. It slows down your heart rate and contributes to fast relaxation, relieving your anxiety.
2. Be Prepared but Not Overwhelmed
It is logical that the better you prepare for the exam, the less you worry. Therefore, careful studying and repetition of materials is the primary strategy for preventing anxiety. To make sure that you know all the necessary information, you can start by creating a checklist and be sure to keep track as you look through materials.
However, it is necessary to remember that overloading the brain and stuffing your memory is also harmful. Before your exam, you should get enough sleep, eat healthily, and rest. Therefore, start preparing for your exam in advance. Light exercises a few hours before can also help you clean your head, feel good, and keep your stress hormones under control.
3. An Empty Stomach is a Disaster
An empty stomach can bring you many problems during the exam. Firstly, a feeling of hunger can distract you from focusing on the test. Secondly, without fueling your body with food, your brain loses the necessary energy and tends to function worse. Finally, hunger puts the body into a survival mode, which increases anxiety. Therefore, you should eat fresh vegetables and fruits a few hours before the exam to reduce stress. Also, take a small snack before beginning to divert any anxiety. However, avoid “stressful foods”, such as meals with high sugar content and artificial sweeteners as well as carbonated soft drinks and junk foods.
4. Do Not be Hard on Yourself
Many times, doubting yourself and your abilities can be considered the main reason behind exam anxiety. Despite having done excellent preparation, most people tend to critically evaluate their readiness and belittle their intelligence, making them worry more. In this case, do not forget to objectively assess your situation and realistically perceive the level of your knowledge. Understand that self-criticism and worrying can in no way improve the actual results of the test and be confident in your abilities!
5. Think about the “Now”
An exam is often an event that may determine an individual’s future path. For example, entering university or pursuing a career dream. Thus, thoughts about consequences usually cause anxiety before the test. What if I do not pass or earn a “high-enough” grade? How will my parents react if I fail? Thoughts about the future do not help at all in the present. Therefore, do not be so pessimistic and hope for the best. You need to understand that focusing on the here and now is always the most reasonable solution.
6. Use Your Anxiety
If you still fail to remove your worry in any way or if you manage to calm down only partially, do not be upset and do not panic. Anxiety is not always bad. Sometimes it can be the force that helps move you towards your goal if you know how to channel it. If you feel your anxiety growing, do not let it turn into fear, but use this energy as courage and enthusiasm. Allow it to translate into action and do not keep it in.
A Real-Life Example of How to Calm Your Nerves
Ever since 2008, the world has been awed by the inspiring story of how one of the most influential and successful leaders of the planet overcame stress when his ecology-fueled tech empire was going through hard times. Elon Musk combatted his emotional turmoil by taking a courageous and out-of-the-box look at fear: he just learned to ignore it. Instead of becoming a regular interlocutor of some high-end Swiss or Hollywood shrink and expanding his eating habits to antidepressants or tranquillizers, the Tesla mastermind pulled himself together and focused on his boundary-breaking strategy of making the world a green place. Thumbs up, Elon!