Help with exam anxiety: reduce stress and improve focus

Mann mit Buch, Lernen für die Prüfung ohne Stress, Fokus

What is test anxiety? There is hardly anyone for whom the term "test anxiety is a foreign word. Especially pupils and students suffer from it and they want to fight the unpleasant feeling effectively. But fighting exam nerves - is that even possible? Are sedatives prescribed by the doctor against exam nerves useful or not? Or does it make things much worse because you lose your focus?

In extreme cases, test anxiety can become a psychological disorder. This can go so far that the fear of not being adequately prepared for the exam and failing can lead to dropping out of university. If the anxiety seems to become overwhelming and personal future prospects are threatened, a specialist should definitely be consulted. Fortunately, this is rarely the case.

Normally, when it comes to exam stress, the ill-considered and rash resort to prescription tranquillisers should be carefully considered. Much more natural than reaching for medical tranquilizers is the use of a special breathing technique against exam anxiety as an aid against the extraordinary stress situation, combined with a selection of suitable nutritional supplements for learning.

Fighting exam anxiety - is that even possible?

It is quite normal for pupils and students to be very tense before important exams. The good news here is: stage fright and excitement are useful and not harmful, because they mobilize all reserves and help to increase performance. It is also important to know that test anxiety is perfectly normal and happens to everyone.

The situation is different, however, when the fear increases to panic and you literally cannot think anymore because of nervousness. If this has ever occurred, there should be no hesitation in seeking professional help. Many schools and colleges offer the services of psychologists who can help in these cases. In addition to the school or university psychologist, the family doctor is a good contact for this problem.

What is exam anxiety?

Exam anxiety is one of the anxiety reactions that occur when the organism reacts to a situation that is perceived as threatening. The typical characteristics of this fear can be expressed in heart palpitations, sweating, increased excitement, dry mouth and gastrointestinal complaints.

In the exam, a certain performance is asked. The problem that arises due to exam anxiety is the feeling of not being able to deliver a sufficient performance and this is perceived as a strong threat. Anyone who has already had a bad experience in this respect, for example through a poor examination result, is particularly at risk of suffering greatly from examination anxiety. Also an exaggeratedly high performance requirement, to which one exposes oneself personally, can lead to the occurrence of test anxiety.

How can you recognize test anxiety?

Not every excitement, or every little touch of stage fright is equal to a pronounced test anxiety. One speaks of this anxiety disorder with the following symptoms:

  • Blockade or blackout: When you are asked an exam question, you can no longer think.
  • You can no longer concentrate before the exam and can no longer learn due to anxiety.
  • Psychosomatic complaints such as insomnia before the exam, or heart palpitations, gastrointestinal complaints, severe fatigue or headaches on the day of the exam.
  • Exaggerated self-doubt and despondency

Natural ways to combat exam anxiety

It helps to know that you can fight your own exam anxiety very well yourself. All it takes is some focused self-reflection and knowledge of natural remedies that you can use to effectively combat your anxiety. First of all, you should face your fear and try to find out what exactly triggered it.

Supporting natural supplements help to restore the inner balance. Classics among the sedatives in Europe are valerian, lemon balm and hops. In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is the remedy of choice for stress. Ashwagandha has a balancing effect on the stress hormones and thus ensures a profound recovery of the nervous system. Another well-known remedy for creating and maintaining inner balance is Rhodiola Rosea, which is also known as rose root.

Green tea for stress relief

If there is one tea that deserves to be called "healthy", it is without a doubt green tea. The plant has quite amazing benefits and makes it a suitable partner during the learning phase and during the exam phase, as it combines several benefits at once. Green tea can be described as the perfect morning drink, with the potential to outstrip coffee.

Green tea - just like coffee - contains caffeine. But unlike coffee, tea provides intelligent energy because it doesn't cause adrenaline to be released, which increases stress in the body. Coffee consumers know this: for a short time you are wide awake after drinking coffee, but then it often comes to the caffeine - crash, when the body is flooded with stress hormones. Green tea, with its special combination of caffeine, polyphenols and the amino acid L-theanine, ensures that the negative effects of caffeine are counteracted and that the body is not stressed. What remains, however, is the energized feeling of wakefulness which leads to a more directed focus and increased productivity.

Scientific studies suggest that L-theanine has a direct positive effect on the state of mind, as it ensures that alpha brain waves are triggered. We also get into the alpha state through meditation and through creative tasks that bring us joy. When alpha waves are released, our focus improves, we feel relaxed and creative - all very good conditions for passing an exam well.

Achieve fast help for exam anxiety with targeted breathing techniques

There is a very effective breathing technique against anxiety and panic that triggers immediate calming: the 4-6-8 method. Anyone who has ever consciously forced themselves to breathe deeply in and out when anxious will probably have noticed that it is quite impossible to remain agitated while breathing calmly and relaxed. Based on this observation, a special breathing technique has been developed to effectively and immediately "breathe away" exam stress. The method even works during the exam, not just during the preparation period. Here's how the breathing technique works:

  1. Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose. Count to four
  2. Now hold your breath and count to six while holding your breath.
  3. Slowly exhale through the open mouth again and count to eight
  4. Repeat this procedure five times

The breathing technique immediately leads to improved concentration and deep calm. In this state, thinking functions optimally again.

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