One of the most common problem during studies is severe anxiety or nervousness. The result of the exam can totally change your future and so the very process of preparing for them can be a stressful experience. Delay in preparation schedule; inability to solve problem or even few hours waste of time can lead to anxiety and create stress which can adversely affect your studies, so it is very important to learn how to manage stress or anxiety.
Even famous people do it
I still remember a video clipping of a famous singer that I saw on TV years ago. The camera had been following him around while he went to rehearsal, got made-up and talked with his manager.
The scene I remember most was the shot of him as he waited backstage for his name to be announced. Now, remember, this was a man who had been doing stageshows for decades. You could hear the audience: It was excited to be in his presence. It was friendly. And he looked nervous, horrified, petrified, regretful that he’d ever entered show business and extremely vulnerable. (Presuming he remembered he was being filmed, this was the controlled panic.)
But, when the announcer called his name and the roar of applause began, he was transformed. He walked with a determined gait to the stage, the lights hit him, he smiled and took the microphone, the band began and he never looked back. His famous voice filled the auditorium, and the audience went wild. If he could face such regular panic attacks and still passed the test, why shouldn’t you?
Remember that a certain level of anxiety is also good and must for you to have a faster learning. Remember a certain level of anxiety can enable you to be more alert, attentive and to concentrate more fully. It can sharpen your exam performance; make you feel more full of energy; cause you to work at the most effective speed and be more attentive to detail. So achieving optimum arousal (anxiety) is the key to success. But the moment the anxiety level becomes higher and it starts disabling it is the time to take an immediate corrective measures.
It is a natural human reaction to worry at times during your studies. It is also natural to express an emotional reaction to the ups and downs of tackling tasks: angry or frustrated at one time, exhilarated at another. The ideas in this book are intended to help you avoid becoming locked into a state of anxiety, where your interaction with exams, tests and course deadlines (the potential ‘stressors’) results in an unhelpful stress reaction in you. This is the type of anxiety state which feels disabling.
Before we learn how to handle stress & anxiety, let us understand what are the signs and symptoms of stress?
- Your heart beats at an accelerated rate.
- Your breathing rate increases.
- Your body sweats.
- Your mind becomes agitated and you feel restless.
- Your stomach feels queasy. In other words you feel butterflies in your stomach.
You can control these problems by training your mind and body to relax on command. In relaxation you are really training to control the functions of your mind.
Relaxation Techniques : You can relax while sitting on a chair, lying on a bed or stretched out on a comfortable spot. To relax focus on your breathing first, close your eyes and listen to the sound as air flows in and out. As you breath your belly should be moving in and out. Next start counting one to ten, on your inhalations and saying to yourself “relax” in your mind. Continue this process until you feel quiet and your mind is focussed and undisturbed by fleeting thoughts. The idea behind counting is to shut your mind from other thoughts and not to be disturbed.
Palming : Close your eyes and keep your open palm pressed against your eyes. Hold this position for 5-10 minutes every day. You will feel the heat being transferred to your eyes . Do this exercise regularly every day or pressing a folded cloth to your mouth, blow air into the cloth so that it becomes warm. Press the cloth against your eyes.
When ever you are tensed or anxious, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Slowly breath out Do this about ten times and watch the difference. This should calm your nerves and reduce your anxiety.
Other methods for Reducing Anxiety
• Self-Assertion – Do a realistic review of the situation, and decide on a course of action and carry it out; assert yourself, take charge of your life.
• Sleep habits – In order to get more time to study several students sacrifice their normal sleep. Occasional loss of sleep may not affect your thinking, but the loss of sleep over a long period can create stress. Do not carry your problems and anxieties to bed. They will leave you mentally sluggish the next morning. Cultivate methods that enable you to get enough good sleep.
• Relaxation – Practice physical and mental relaxation exercises
• Quiet time – Cultivate and then use a “quiet time” to review your situation, to compose yourself, and to prepare for a project or situation for the day.
• Friends – Talk to one or two friends a day, for support and encouragement, to renew your self-confidence and morale.
• Consultation – Help yourself by seeking consultation with peers, instructors, or professional counsellors.
Practice to relax every day: The more you practice, the better you will be able to relax. Practice to relax for five minutes at the beginning. Plan to have at least 3 relaxation periods each day, of five minutes duration. On very busy days, do not be tempted to do away with the practice totally. It is more important to relax on these busy days.
Remember, anxiety affects people of all abilities. Among the students I have met who are most anxious about their examinations are large numbers who have gained very good marks.