How to manage mental health during exams – Top tips from a psychiatrist

Board exams are around the corner, and evaluations of colleges and institutes are about to start for post-boards preparations. At this time, rivers of coffee, nerves and sleepless nights occupy the days and nights of many students. But, in some of them there is another element that makes it difficult for them to study, and that’s anxiety.

Exam anxiety can wreck havoc with your health. It can hinder your study concentration and ruin your sleep. But with the right tips to bust exam stress and anxiety, your board exam preparation can become much easier.

How to cope with exam anxiety

Not only is there anxiety, but there are different levels of anxiety, and not all of them are always controlled in the same way.

The problem arises when anxiety levels are high, and it becomes maladaptive, i.e, we are unable to cope with it.

Rational anxiety: A student presents rational anxiety when he does not study correctly. In these cases, it is said that the problem arises because he does not have the correct study habits and techniques.

Irrational anxiety: On the other hand, a student has irrational anxiety problems when he does study, and does it correctly, but becomes nervous during the exam, and performs worse than he/she could have.

The reasons for this trigger of irrational anxiety can be many. In some cases, it arises when the student has had some type of failure, absolute or relative, in an exam.

If this student focuses his/her attention on that one time he/she did not fare well, and not on the times he/she succeeded, he/she may suffer a conditioning process — he/she will anticipate future exam situations, which will make him/her feel unwell.

Negative feedback anticipation: On the other hand, there may also be a situation where the student has received negative information regarding the exams of specific subjects or of certain teachers and this makes him/her anticipate a bad grade, which makes him/her feel more nervous.

Negative self perception: Another reason may be the beliefs that the student has about his/her personality throughout his life.

That is to say, if they base their worth on the successes, they will give a lot of importance to a failure since according to their mental schemes, the value of a person depends on the successes.

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Signs that you have anxiety

Anxiety usually manifests itself on three levels: physiological, motor and cognitive. The symptoms of anxiety are:

1. Symptoms that arise at the physiological level can manifest in the form of body tension. For example, digestive discomfort, insomnia, sweating, muscle aches may occur.

2. At the cognitive level, in anticipation of poor test performance, beliefs of low self-esteem or concentration problems may occur.

3. And finally, at the motor level, they can present signs such as hyperactivity, feeding problems that vary from not eating anything to excessive intake, smoking and excessive drinking, crying and avoidance and escape behaviours from the exam situation.

Keys to overcome anxiety

There are different ways to control, avoid and/or reduce these symptoms, whether it is rational or irrational anxiety.

If it is a rational anxiety, the student should schedule a study time and use appropriate study techniques. There are many manuals in which guidelines are given to learn self-control of study behaviour.

It is very important to learn to use self-control strategies to know the factors that positively or negatively influence our behaviour and to modify the bad ones.
Secondly, it is important to learn to control thoughts, that is, the technique of controlling cognitive responses, changing negative thoughts and self-verifications for more positive ones.

Finally, a great key to reduce anxiety is to be confident and relativize the consequences of a bad grade. Therefore, it will give allow you to stop for a moment to take deep breaths and relax and thus be able to continue with the exam.

Courtesy: India Today

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