Whether we’re in a pandemic or not, exams always create a wave of anxiety. Before we talk about steps to take care of our mental health during such difficult times, let’s become aware of what causes anxiety and worry in the first place. Awareness in itself often helps reduce exam-related anxiety.
Let’s start by asking a very simple question of what an examination is. An exam is a formal assessment or a test that is given to learning about one’s level of knowledge in a particular subject. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
However, somewhere it got complex when it started to become a test of one’s pride, parents’ pride or one’s self-esteem and whatnot.
The immense pressure and fear for students come more from these external factors rather than writing the exam in itself! From my experience, I have understood that students worry more about how their parents, teachers or peers perceive them if they scored low marks rather than how much they have learned about the subject.
Further, due to the value that “marks” hold in the eyes of society, it began to define a student. Students have started getting categorized based on their marks as “good” or “average” or as” failures”.
When labels begin to be involved, it increases the pressure on any student. No one wants to be associated with a negative label. Furthermore, expectations from parents and teachers also add on the already existing pressure.
Hence, before even writing an exam, just the possibility of these unpleasant consequences looms as a mountain of anxiety to conquer. The fear and anxiety inevitably decrease concentration and increases the difficulty in grasping concepts while learning, which adds to the anxiety, and this emotional cycle continues.
So how can one manage all these fears and insecurities and remain calm and composed during this exam season? Here are a few tips to take care of your mental health.
1. Understanding the cause of anxiety
Whether it is a reason mentioned in this article or something else, understand a lot of those external factors are beyond one’s control.
It is important to be aware of what we tell ourselves in such cases, cause often these are factors that will only drain our energy and make us feel helpless the more we strive to set it right. For eg, other’s perceptions/opinions about us.
Hence, it’s best to focus on what is under our control i.e., 1) gaining as much knowledge about the subject 2) being able to reproduce the same effect. Not as scary as the rest of the factors isn’t it?
2. Involve a group
Forming a study group with like-minded friends can be a great way to get through the exams! Often parents/ teachers are concerned that group study could be a source of distraction.
However, it can have its own advantages, provided the group is mutually interested and motivated to crack the preparations-
1) the group can motivate one another to reach their targets
2) It makes the environment less stressful as we are less likely to be lost in our worries when working with others. We tend to concentrate more on the task at hand.
3. Add some “Me-time”
As they say ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Thus, allocate some time where you can unwind and stay away from your studies. Indulge in any activity that gives you peace and happiness.
It could be something even as simple as a nice hot water bath. Indulging in a sport can further activate our brain and can reduce our stress levels too.
4. Share your stories with a friend
Having a good support system always helps in keeping us sane. When we speak about our anxieties or insecurities with a friend, we feel understood and accepted.
Furthermore, understanding that we are not alone in this difficulty also gives us a sense of belonging which adds to one’s fighting spirit.
5. Talk to your parents openly
Every parent only means well for their children. But sometimes, how they express that can seem like pressure to some children.
Having an open conversation can bring about an understanding of expectations from both sides and a middle ground can be achieved.
– Article by Sahana Tantry, Psychologist and Outreach Associate, Mpower The Centre, Bengaluru
Courtesy: India Today