Coping with Exam Stress

November 16, 2018 Jeffrey McKee 0 Comments

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

Your exam date is approaching soon, and you feel overwhelmed. You may be wondering how you will create more time to study on top of your busy schedule. You need a strategic study plan and tips on how to cope with exam stress.

Many tips and techniques will help you manage your anxiety about your upcoming exam. You can join study groups and even hire a coach. To make your life a little easier, here are seven tips that can help you remain calm in the storm of exam stress.

  1. Stop over thinking

You are nervous and worried that during the exam you won’t remember something you need to know. This is normal because your anticipatory anxiety is leading you to over think. You have prepared and studied for the exam.

Don’t get caught up in over thinking your answers. Make a note of the first answer, then mark any of the answers that don’t fit. If you are down to two excellent answers, think about which one is more applicable.

  1. Remember the power of support

You want to help couples and families as a clinician, but you aren’t spending enough time with yours. Maybe you feel guilty, or you recognize that your time is limited due to your schedule. However, spending time with those that support you can help bolster your confidence for your exam.

Spending as little as 30 minutes per day with your loved ones can also help you feel more relaxed. If you have an intense family, you may want to decrease that time but make sure you remain connected. Their support and encouragement can go a long way, especially during stressful times.

  1. Schedule breaks from studying

Have you sat down to study and after 45 minutes your mind goes blank? No matter how hard you concentrate, you can’t seem to absorb the material. This is a sign that it is time for a break. When you study in blocks of time be sure to take a 5-10 minute break.

After 45 minutes or an hour of studying get up, take a walk, get something to drink, and reset before starting back. Your brain can only absorb so much information at once. It is counterproductive to continue to study when you begin to zone out. You will have a better chance of remembering material after you take a short break.

  1. Let people help you

Your family wants to support you through this stressful time, but you may not know how to tell them to help. Don’t feel guilty about letting them know what you need. If you don’t know how to ask them to help you, think about what you need.

Maybe letting them know when you are available to spend time with them. Also, ask for assistance with preparing meals, errands, or other demands on your time that could be spent studying for your exam. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty about asking for help.

  1. Warn your support system ahead of time

Let your family and friends know that you may be extra cranky or stressed leading up to the exam. Assure them that it isn’t personal and you are doing your best. This doesn’t give you permission or an excuse to be a jerk, but it does let your support system know that you may not be 100% yourself during this time.

After your exam thank them for their support and let them know how much you appreciate them. Your support system is there for you to be sure to utilize them.

  1. Make time for exercise

You barely have time to sleep, and when you do, you can’t stop thinking about your exam. With your limited time, you may think it’s okay not to prioritize exercise. However, your brain and body need it to function at their best.

The stress you are experiencing is evident in your clenched jaws and tight shoulders. You don’t have to spend an hour in the gym, but you do need to go for a walk or move in some way. Get outside and stretch your leg. Breathe in fresh air and reset yourself before you go back to studying.

  1. Visualize yourself leaving the exam

You already know how important visualizing success can be. If it’s good enough for your clients, then why not use it to help you decrease stress at any given moment. Think about how you will feel after your exam is complete.

Visualize how incredible it will be when you walk out of your exam with a passing grade. You will feel on top of the world. All of your hard work and sacrifice has paid off. Think about that feeling and let that keep you energized.

You have a lot riding on your exam. Your future career, new opportunities, and maybe you also have a family to support. This exam is important so don’t forget it is your responsibility to use tips and techniques to decrease stress. You have been through difficult times in your life, and you will make it through this one.

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