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Test Anxiety: How to Deal With It.

test anxiety

At the end of July all over the country, thousands of people will take the bar exam and fail due to test anxiety.

The failure rate in California in 2004 was 56 percent. Although some will fail because they are not worried enough, many will fail because they are worried to the point of test anxiety.

Test anxiety can show up as early as first and second grades as well as in high school. A 2006 U.S. Department of Education-funded study conducted by the Institute of HeartMath and Claremont Graduate University with 980 10th-grade students found that 61% of all students reported being affected by test anxiety.

What is test anxiety?

It is a psychological condition where the test taker feels severe distress before, during and after the test; one can get so nervous and anxious about doing well (or just passing), that performance on a test is negatively affected. If you know how a college final can produce this type of anxiety, then imagine having test anxiety while taking the bar exam, or an exam for licensure, where the stakes are high and there has been a significant investment in both money and time.

It’s normal to have some type of nervousness about taking a test and in fact, this nervousness can be helpful by getting us into a state where we are pumped up to do well. When this nervousness escalates into test anxiety, however, it can not only interfere with recall of information but may create a reaction so intense that it some people give up taking the exam entirely, or continue to put it off until “someday”.

 Test anxiety is a form of performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety is where someone is extremely nervous about having to produce a result in a limited time period or in front of people who are judging them. Test anxiety, stage fright, fear of public speaking and “choking” in sports performance fall into this category.

Symptoms of performance anxiety are similar to most other forms of anxiety reactions: rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, shakiness, confusion, or other physical aches or pains such as nausea or a stomach ache.

In my work as a hypnotherapist with people who are challenged by test anxiety, I notice that many of these people share similar characteristics, such as being prone to high stress, having perfectionist tendencies, or worrying a lot. Most instances of test anxiety can be dealt with in just a few hypnotherapy sessions, but here are some suggestions you can put to use right away.

Tips for dealing with text anxiety

Diet can affect your ability to think and recall information. If you are skipping meals or eating meals or snacks high in carbs while studying for an exam, then you may be experiencing episodes of low blood sugar (blood glucose). Since the organ that uses the most glucose is the brain, a balanced diet can be helpful in creating optimal brain power. Have healthy snacks while you study.

Sleep seems to go by the wayside when students are preparing for exams. Plan your study time for when you feel the most alert, which for most people is not usually late at night. But if that works for you, then make sure you’re getting the amount of sleep that’s right for you. It’s probably more than you think. It makes sense to be well rested in the days leading up to a major exam, yes?

Lack of preparation can cause test anxiety. Last minute cramming can leave you feeling like you are not ready, creating anxiety. Manage your time by organizing your schedule to give yourself the best conditions for learning. Decide ahead of time when, and for how long you will study. I suggest studying in periods of 50 minutes to one hour, with 10 to 15 minute breaks in between.

Effective Preparation. Many people will only prepare for an exam by cramming the information into their heads. This is only half the equation; taking the test will involve recalling the information. Prepare for the exam by taking as many practice tests as you can as soon as you can. This will also clue you in as to what areas require more study.

Watch your self talk. Self talk is your internal language or thoughts. Avoid scaring yourself with inner conversations like “I know I’m going to just blank out right in the middle of the test!” or “I just suck at taking tests!” Give yourself encouragement and support. Use positive affirmations in the days and weeks leading up to the exam. (Click here to read more about affirmations.)

Mental visualization can be one of the most effective techniques you can use to mentally “rehearse” taking the test while feeling calm, relaxed and comfortable. See yourself walking out of the testing location feeling good about your performance. Imagine receiving the information that you have passed. Setting a goal of passing with a particular score increases the chances that you will.

Extreme self care might be getting massages in the days or weeks before the exam to release excess tension and stress. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam, and don’t even thing about showing up without eating a good meal with protein. Daily walking or any type of exercise can also be a great stress reliever. Remember, anxiety comes from prolonged stress and tension. Find ways to release it.

For the most part, test anxiety is a learned response. With practice, you can unlearn test anxiety and learn a different reaction. Have faith in your brain, and cultivate a strong and abiding belief that you can and will pass!

Ted

How to Release Negative Emotions Quickly and Easily

In an hour hypnosis session, the hypnosis part is only about 20 minutes. The remainder of the time I’m talking with my client, getting information, setting goals, and teaching them various techniques to add to their transformation toolbox.

One of the most valuable tools that I teach almost every client is EFT, which stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT is in my experience  quite effective for quickly letting go of negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness. It can also be used for physical problems as well.

In this short video I teach how to do EFT. It’s simple, easy and effective. To learn more about EFT go to www.emofree.com.

 

How to Be Peaceful

greenpeace

Peace. In the media you will hear that word almost daily. Peace talks. Peace in the Middle East. The peace process. Peace activists. Nobel Peace Prize. Peace of mind. Peace and quiet.

Most people want and strive for peace. Yet, peace seems in  short supply these days. Why is peace so rare in our lives, as well as in the world at large? Sometimes it appears that long lasting peace is almost impossible. Granted, there exists an abundance of beauty and harmony, and even though it may not seem like it, the vast majority of the world is not at war (at least not in political wars.) In spite of that, we must acknowledge that as a race, we have a long and bloody history of violence, murder, war, and genocide. I think we can agree that we can do better. Read more

Giving Yourself Permission to Just Hang Out and Relax.

 

crows21

Friday I stayed home with a bad cold.  Cancelling the two appointments I had on Saturday was not an option.  I got through Saturday without sneezing on my cleints, and spent the rest of the day on the couch with a box of Kleenex.

Sunday I woke up at 6 am still feeling pretty lousy. Saturdays and Sundays I usually get up at 6, and write this blog in my home office. The voice in my head  was saying: “Get up right now, go into the office and start writing…wait, how about just a couple more minutes sleep? OK. Then I’ll get up and get to work…yeah, that’s it…”

I woke up at 8:30, feeling guilty and behind schedule. All of a sudden, something occured to me: “I’m under the weather, can’t I get a break??”

After all,  I was battling a cold. It seemed like it should be OK for me not to jump out of bed and start working on this particular Sunday. Then I decided something that totally changed how I felt: I wasn’t going to do a darn thing  that day except take it easy. And that’s what I did. I sat on the couch and watched TV, something I never do. I played with my kids. I felt like I was on vacation. No pressure, no work, I had nothing I had to get done. It felt freakin’ great. Here I thought I was the expert on how to relax, but I had to be reminded that day how incredibly important it is to just chill out.

Relaxation is as necessary as food and water. Without regular relaxation, stress builds up and creates dis-ease. Yet, it seems that in our culture, we feel the need to jam more and more into each day. The fact is, research shows that daily time for relaxation actually increases productivity.

The mind can only take in so much information or stimuli before it becomes overwhelmed. Many factors can contribute to overwhelm, including lack of sleep, physical discomfort or pain, emotional challenges, hunger, and especially stress and worry. When we become overwhelmed, we aren’t able to keep things in perspective anymore, and our tolerance and patience plummets. We actually enter  a trance state, and since we’re focused on what we don’t want, we create more of it through the power of suggestion, creating a vicious cycle.

If you stay stressed and overwhelmed long enough, this state can become a habit or the norm. Things begin to fall through the cracks, exhaustion kicks in, and if you don’t have the good sense to say “I need a vacation” then your body will force you to take one.

If you’re having trouble relaxing, here’s a few useful tips:

  • Schedule your relaxation time in as an appointment with yourself. Could be a whole day, a few hours, or a few minutes to listen to a relaxation or hypnosis CD. The key is make the choice to do it and do it regularly.
  • Take breaks. I know you’ve heard this before. Alex Mandossian suggests having a timer and work in 50 minute increments, then when 50 minutes is up, you absolutely have to get up and take a break, walk around, or have a snack or a meal.
  • Take a power nap. According to Wikipedia, “Scientific experiments  and anecdotal evidence suggest that an average power nap duration of around 15-30 minutes is most effective.”
  • Keep your perspective. Will your email inbox ever be empty? Will you ever really conquer all the weeds? Have you every been truly caught up? Will the work at your job ever be “done?” If the answer is no, then that is the reality. Work when you should,  relax when you should. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll bet that it’s true that nobody ever said on their deathbed, “I should’ve spent more time at the office.”
  • Learn to say no. Is it imperative that you attend every invitation you recieve?  Give your time whenever asked? Are you guilted into attending parties, weddings, work functions etc. even when you don’t want to? It’s your life, your precious and valuable time, and your choice, so choose wisely.
  • Take one day a week off. One day when you absolutely do not involve yourself in your work, job or career. One day to let your mind be free to focus on something else. Even God took a day off.
  • Loosen up and have some fun. The last time I spoke to God, She told me that we’re here to enjoy life. Who am I to disobey? What good is working hard and  having lots of stuff, if you can’t hang loose and enjoy it? Short answer: no good.
  • Listen to music. In my house, I’m the kitchen clean up guy. It’s a lot more tolerable if I’m listening to tunes. Even if you aren’t a big music lover, listening to relaxing music while driving can go a long way towards  easing the stress of a daily commmute.
  • Take a walk outside. It will get you out of your head, and that’s where your stress lives. A walk after dinner will do wonders for your attitude.
  • Then there’s the tried and true…yoga and meditation or some kind of mindfullness practice. Having been around for a couple of thousand years, we can assume that there’s something valuable in these practices.

Or you can make it really easy on yourself and just call me. Here’s what I’ll do for you. I’ll give you a half hour Power Relaxation Session  for $59, including a recording of the session. You come in, we say our howdy dos, you get in the happy chair, I do the hypno-relax magic, you walk out with a smile on your face and a recording waiting for you in your inbox. How easy is that? (South Pasadena location only, this offer expires September 30th.)

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TMan

 Ted A. Moreno
Personal/Small Business Coach
Certified Hypnotherapist
www.TedMoreno.com                                                                       
 (626) 826-0612
 
Photo by Skye Moorhead. www.skyemoorhead.com