Summer is on its way, warmer temperatures, longer days... all sure signs it's time for students to face a barrage of exams.
From end-of-year subject exams to standardised national tests, there’s more than enough to challenge the average student. Unfortunately, for some students, any testing presents a significantly stressful situation. It’s called Test Anxiety.
Students who haven’t studied or who never grasped the subject matter, understandably have reason to feel nervous about exams, but that’s not the same as Test Anxiety.
Some nervousness when facing any test is normal, but Test Anxiety brings on much stronger feelings. Test Anxiety is actually a form of performance anxiety, the feeling someone may experience before appearing in a show, playing a crucial game in sports or walking into an important interview.
For most people, the result is simple nervousness that quickly disappears once the activity begins. With true Test Anxiety, however, the symptoms can be much stronger. The person might experience a stomachache, a headache, or an elevated heart beat. In severe cases, there may be feelings of panic, or even of fainting.
These reactions are caused by the body releasing adrenaline as it prepares you for ‘danger,’ and as the person imagines the bad things that might happen, it can become a repeating cycle that leads to even more fears and anxiousness.
How to deal with Test Anxiety? The simplest step is to be pre- pared. It’s called self-efficacy. The more competent you feel to sit an exam, the less anxious you’ll feel. Being prepared means not cramming the night before, but studying over time, eating healthfully and getting plenty of rest.
Thinking positively and trying to relax also helps. Concentrat- ing on negative thoughts and fears simply increases stress and anxiety. Instead, positive thoughts about how much studying was done and how well the material is known can help build confidence and encourage calm.
It’s also important not to expect perfection. When a student stops worrying about his or her inability to be perfect and in- stead focuses on simply doing his or her best, it helps create a confident attitude and reduce stress.
Whilst working in my private practice in the UK, I was also employed by the UK government, visiting school and colleges, offering counselling to children and young adults.
Aside from the usual teenage angst, this time of year presents further issues of anxiety. Peer pressure, social media, cyber bullying, and other external influences can throw up a mul- titude of psychological and emotional issues, particularly for young people.
Over time, I managed to help many youngsters with internal conflict, including lack of self esteem, anger management and body dysmorphia, to name but a few.
If you are impacted by any of these issues, be encouraged to take the first step, be brave to ask for help, give me a call or send me an email. Together, we can discover if psychotherapy is for you.