Assisting students to cope with Exam Anxiety

Assisting students to cope with Exam Anxiety

It is a frightening time for all of us. We’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, with so many places shut down and some struggling to reopen. There are also people living in the areas where the infection of coronavirus is getting severe.

This shows how we all have our own struggles and ways of dealing with such situations. Similarly, to these physical ailments, mental ailments are at a peak as well. While everyone deals with anxiety now and then adults have better coping mechanisms compared to students and teens. Students usually lack the coping mechanism to get through tough and difficult times. They are constantly under academic pressure, the struggle to excel in their exams, to prepare for exams, tagged along with parental expectations to perform well and the list never ends. Students have to undergo so much stress and especially with this pandemic mental health of students have seriously been hampered.

Therefore, here in this article we’ll explain you some steps that should be taken by the teachers or parents that’ll help the student to cope up his or her anxiety

What does Anxiety mean?

Anxiety involves feelings of worry, fear and nervousness. It is typically experienced on cognitive, emotional and physical levels. When a person is anxious, he or she may have negative or disturbing thoughts. On an emotional level one may feel scared. Physically, one might experience breathing problems such as shortness of breath, sweating, etc.

These symptoms are common for people who undergo anxiety and stress. Most of the student population go through these symptoms during their exams, presentations or even during public speaking. They struggle to manage their feelings of anxiety.

While it seems like there’s nothing you can do about anxiety, there are steps you can take to relieve the pressure and regain control over it.

How can students manage to cope up with anxiety attacks?

When you experience that anxiety is taking over your life, take time and think about what is it that is making you nervous. A student typically experiences anxiety when there is a pressure to score good grades and worries about his or her future.

Here are some tips to help you cope up with your feelings of anxiety during the exams.

1. Deep Breathing

The next time you experience that your anxiety is trying to take control of your present, regain control by sitting down and taking a few deep breathes. Simply stop your work or your studies, and focus on your breathing. This will bring you back to the present moment.

For example, you may be worried about your exams or how the scores will turn out to be. You might as well be feeling upset thinking about your exams over and over again. Regardless of what you are worried about, a big part of the problem is that you are not being mindful of the present situation. Over here, breathing exercises become crucial as they are powerful relaxation techniques that can help you ease your body and mind.

2. Taking A Walk

It is no secret that sometimes life can be hard, especially for students. This is because everyone copes differently with their burdens. It can be difficult for some students to manage their levels of anxiety and stress.

Trekking, talking a walk, cycling and other outdoor activities can balance your stress out. Even a walk as short as thirty minutes every day or as often as possible can lower your heart rate, ease your anxiety, and relieve your stress while being quite scenic! Not only does out door sports refresh your spirit, but a daily walk can also ease your anxiety in a wholly inspiring way.

3. Engaging in Recreational Activities

The most helpful tip here is to channel your focus on something other than anxiety. You can reach out to others, do some work around the house apart from your studies or engage yourself in an enjoyable activity or hobby.

Here are some ideas of things you can do to divert yourself:

• Listening to music.
• Reading a good book.
• Watching your favorite movie.
• Engaging yourself in a creative activity such as writing, painting, drawing, etc.
• Doing some chores or organizing your shelves, wardrobe or room.

4. Meditation

Meditation definitely helps students and inspires them to concentrate on their senses and their breathing. It clears their head space to think and regulate emotions. YouTube provides a series of guided meditations which can help students deal with anxiety and exam stress.

They might find meditations challenging to begin with, but with practice, they will find it becomes much easier. A special benefit for students is that meditation can help reduce the fear and anxiety associated with taking tests. It instils a renewed confidence in yourself and a more balanced view of life, allowing you to handle your exam questions better.

5. Writing A Journal

Writing down all your thoughts in a journal is a great source of getting rid of your fears too. If anxious feelings seem to be keeping you up all night, try keeping a journal or a notepad beside your bed. Write down all the thoughts that bother you. Make it a habit to regularly uncover and express your feelings of anxiety.

Keeping a journal has also found to help a person to relieve anxiety, let go of negativity, refocus and concentrate more on their works. It helps to cope up through difficult emotions and circumstances. Used as a coping technique, journal writing can be helpful way for students to explore their anxiety, manage their stress and help them perform better in their exams.

Role of parents and teachers to help students tackle Anxiety

We need to understand that stress and anxiety hinders learning and interferes with memory retrieval. Students need to understand what anxiety is and how they can cope with it. Every student needs an adult that they can trust and rely on. So, what can we do about it?

The following is a list of suggestions on how parents and teachers can help students cope with their anxiety

1. Build A Self-Belief

Self-talk techniques remind students what they have done well that day or what they have achieved, and build self-belief. Help students to adopt a go-to, positive phrase or mantra, such as ‘I am, I can, I will’ or ‘I believe I can do my best’. Repeating such mantra over a series of weeks and months will not only drown their negative thoughts but will also foster positive attitude in them.
It not only boosts their self-confidence but will also help them deal with anxiety they face during their exams.

2. Thinking Through

Sometimes it helps to talk through what would happen if the student’s fear came true. Discussion around, “how would he or she handle their anxiety” is super important. A student who’s anxious about her exams might worry about what would happen if she fails her test. So, we need to talk about it.

For some students talking through the fear helps. It reduces uncertainty in a healthy and effective way. Similarly, talking about exam fears with teachers are always helpful. For example, a student is preparing for IAS in Kolkata and is worried about not performing well in his or her mock interview. Here, if they talk to their teacher, it would definitely be advantageous. The teacher might give some last minute helpful tips which will bring in the motivation they require.

3. No Leading Questions

Encourage the students to talk about their feelings, but try not to ask leading questions- “Are you anxious about your big test? Are you worried about it?” To avoid feeding the cycle of anxiety, just ask open-ended questions; “How are you feeling about your exams?” “How are you feeling about your science test?”

4. Healthy Habits

A perfect and healthy diet is a solution to many health-related issues. Nutrition has a big impact on teen stress and anxiety. In this fast world where most of the young generation prefers junk food; eating a balanced healthy diet is must. An unhealthy diet can lead to an unhealthy gut biome or deficiency of crucial nutrients. An unhappy stomach leads to unhappy mind which cranks up stress levels even higher. A healthy diet can boost mood. Also, it is advisable to intake sufficient amount of water in your diet.

Exercise can also have positive effects. Studies show that students who regularly workout gain a natural mood boost and are at lower risk of experiencing anxiety, depression and stress.

So, you can see, anxiety can be easily tackled by following few simple tips, and it is always important to look after one’s health; especially mental wellbeing. Also, parents and teachers should also look after such students and help them to cope up with their difficulties. The label of social stigma attached to mental health should be removed as the more students address them, the healthier their future would be.

About Author: Shruti Pashte
BA English Literature
Content Writer, Exambazaar