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Exam Stress Management

Understanding Test Pressure

In my therapy practice I always deal with students struggling with exam stress. The same problem is repeated year after year:

• Sleep difficulties

• Poor concentration

• Experiencing emotions

• Anxiety / Anxiety / Over-thinking

• Irrational and / or Aggressive behavior

• Stomachache

• Disaster thinking

If students have one or more of these issues, they need help managing themselves. Where can they start?

It's important to start by understanding what's going on in your brain, under the specific conditions of 'trying to learn while stressed'. To make it really easy, you can say that in this situation there are two parts of your brain in competition with each other.

The first, associated with learning is the logical part of the brain, located in the front of the head behind your forehead. It is known as the prefrontal cortex. This is where we process information, without emotion. We use it for intellectual learning.

The second is the 'struggle / flight' part; brain, triggered by pressure. It is located at the back of the head and is known as the amygdala. All of our sensory information (what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch) is processed through this center in advance to & # 39; check & # 39; if safe. It's like a computer program running in the background all the time without us fully realizing it.

Recent studies show that signals to prefrontal or brain learning are temporarily lost as we enter combat / flight conditions. Instead, stress conditions focus on the brain's survival area. Remember that survival is a priority in the body. Threatened mood will stimulate flight / activity. When survival responses take over, rational thinking is less important and signals to this part of the brain are turned off.

When your body enters a fight / major flight change, including; increased heart rate, shortness of breath & increased adrenaline. Added to this you stop producing digestive enzymes in your stomach and mouth and your intestines can shrink. Your bladder may also want to empty. Your neck and shoulders can become 'locked'. or as tight as your jaw. This change explains why so many of the symptoms listed above occur when test pressure increases.

In my experience as a therapist, some people are more prone to reaction / flight than others. The reasons can be genetic, exposure to stress and trauma. In cases where there is a trauma background, it is best to seek the services of a professional therapist. Talk to your doctor or teacher for advice.

If you learn, you need to feel safe, calm and motivated. If you feel a little stressed, this is normal but if it's too much you need to get on it before it gets too heavy.

So, what can you do to manage exam stress? Below I've listed the Top Tips for managing exam stress.

Number 1 - Control your breathing.

You will remember how your body changes in fight / flight mode. Your breathing and pulse speed accelerate and you get an increase in adrenaline. When you slow down your breathing, you generally calm your nervous system. That's why meditation teachers have made people use it as part of their practice for thousands of years. There are a few simple breathing techniques I have learned for the exam. If you do it for a few minutes, even in a crisis it will help with stress levels. You cannot breathe regularly and slowly and permanently. Breathe slowly and non-aggressively with your eyes closed for the best results.

Number 2 - Move

Your brain and body have evolved to respond to stress by moving. The fight / flight response is a call to action. Unfortunately your brain doesn't understand that test pressure requires you to sit down! By taking action, you fulfill your body's desire to move.

Studies show that short bursts of intense training are extremely effective. This seems to me natural because it mimics what you would do if you had to run away from a bear. This is how the brain is designed. When you burn adrenaline, your nervous system will feel better. An additional benefit of doing this regularly is that it sharpens your brain to learn. Bring your body, your brain and your mind at ease.

Number 3 - Visualization

I have been practicing visualization for many years and I am always amazed by the results. It works well with breathing techniques. When you close your eyes and visualize the positive results in the future your brain begins to create emotional states that enable it. I use it for public speaking. When I practice it before I give a talk, the result is that I think I have a conversation with someone. It's simple and fun. The important part is this. You need to think about events that you find stressful when you feel OK. Your brain values ​​the feeling and starts moving toward it. I got great feedback from students who practiced this technique.

Number 4 - Eat clean and healthy foods.

Preparing for the year-end exam is the same as preparing for a sports championship. Most of the energy you need. Therefore, it is important to create a healthy diet. A diverse diet with high quality vegetables is very important. You need to get good nutrients into your body so that you can maximize your energy. Good fats, good vegetables, clean meats are important. Slow down your sugar levels as you increase your intake of other foods and you will increase your concentration and alertness. Drink a lot of water. It helps to cleanse your body and your brain.

Drinking coffee and energy can affect some people so I don't recommend using it. Often you can get explosive energy and then accidents that make you worse before you start.

Number 5 - Sleep

Wake up tired because of poor sleep starting from the back foot. Important aspects of sleep will change before you go to bed. Stop studying an hour before hand and put down your smartphone and TV. Take a walk to clear your head or do meditation. There are stretches of yoga specifically for the night which will also help. Another great way to relax your body and mind is the Epsom fork, taken in fifteen to twenty minutes.

Additionally, one of the additional benefits of exercise is that your body is tired and sleep is easier. Finally do not eat too late and drink soothing herbal tea.


So remember, if you are studying for an important test and you are feeling pressure, remember that too much pressure is making things worse. You can balance stress with breathing and exercise techniques, by visualizing positive results and eating and sleeping well. If everything goes awry make sure you tell your parents or teachers and get the help of a professional. No matter how important you think about the exam, nothing is more important to your health. So keep yourself as calm as you can.

Best of luck to you!



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