What is exam stress?
Exam stress can arise in any situation in which personal performance is assessed. These can be sports or recreation competitions. However, the situations most frequently concerned are written or oral examinations at school, during studies, or in professional life. In such situations, a slight tension can even be beneficial and mobilize our energy. But if the fear is too strong, the opposite can happen. Often several days before the examination, strong agitation and sleep disturbances set in. Right before the test, fear manifests physically in the form of sweating, tremors, nausea, the urge to urinate, or diarrhea.
Exam stress in children and youth
Surveys by the Forsa polling institute show that nearly one in five children suffers from exam stress. Often, low self-esteem is compounded by pressure from teachers or parents. This results in a great fear of not meeting the requirements. This literally paralyzes the child and, in a downward spiral, leads to exactly what he fears: stress hormones increase, the child no longer has free access to his knowledge, this leads to ever greater panic or real blackout. But it is usually possible to break this downward spiral with the tips mentioned below.
Exam stress in adults
Adults also often suffer from exam stress. Those affected by it often feel extremely pressured in assessment situations such as recruitment tests at work or exams during their studies. Often, however, this pressure comes from the person himself. It can result from perfectionism, excessive demands on oneself, or an increased tendency to self-criticize. The possibility of failing the test or exam turns into the overwhelming and ubiquitous Sword of Damocles. Below you will find tips for changing your attitude and information on how to deal with your inner tension.
Causes of exam stress
In general, exam stress is not a fear of the exam itself. Often, it instead conceals the fear of the consequences of failure. We do not want to expose our weak points or cover ourselves with shame. You don’t want to look stupid in front of your colleagues, friends, classmates, teachers or parents. Sometimes affected children or parents are also afraid of being looked down upon, ridiculed, or rejected if the test goes wrong.
In some cases, this stress conceals traumatic experiences related to an examination situation. The person concerned may have been ridiculed by a teacher at the school for performing poorly. Many of these causes lead to negative thoughts. In the long run, thoughts like “I’m not going to pass the test anyway”, “I’m so bad and everyone else is so much better”, “I’ll never learn it” or “I’m everything. just too stupid ”can eventually come true. However, the following tips often help with exam stress or even overcome it completely.
Tips: What helps in stressful exams
Whether for children, students or adults, exam stress is not inevitable. There are a number of things that can be done to combat it. However, if your or your child’s stress is so great that it seriously affects your daily life, you should instead discuss treatment options with a doctor or psychotherapist. In all other cases, the following tips may be helpful.
Tips before an exam
Before a test or a stressful situation, preparing well and learning correctly helps prevent the stress of the exam from taking on too great proportions from the start.
An appropriate learning method and good time management ensure optimal preparation and reduce pressure and stress. But breaks should also be planned in the learning process. That’s why it’s important to start early to prepare and learn.
Before a thorough review, start by taking the time to choose the important topics to learn that are worthwhile. This allows you to focus your energy on the important topics and gives a good feeling.
You can learn to think more positively. To do this, we must first recognize negative thoughts. Often, words like “always” or “never” indicate an all-black-or-all-white approach. It goes without saying that no one is “always” bad or “never” good in an examination situation. The ideal is to rephrase this kind of thought for yourself and say to yourself: “I’ll get there”.
Practice exam situations over and over
You can practice written tests in advance. For oral exams, it may be helpful to ask friends, parents or partner to ask us questions or to practice presentations in front of a willing audience.
Sport and friends
Nothing like physical activity to de-stress. But social contact and distractions also help regulate stress hormones and clear your head. Hence the importance, during stressful learning phases, of planning sports sessions, going for regular walks or meeting friends. Preferably not to mention school, apprenticeship or the planned test.
Learn Relaxation Techniques
In case of high tension and anxiety, certain techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training, but also breathing exercises and meditation, are generally very useful. However, it is important to get started at an early stage and practice them regularly because you have to train and learn them first. Yoga, tai chi and qigong are also suitable methods.
sleep Sleep helps regulate stress hormones and replenish the body’s reserves. If you do not sleep well, especially during the exam period, you can resort to herbal preparations, which promote falling asleep and sleep and have no side effects during the exams.
Eat a balanced diet
Tension often reduces appetite or makes you want to eat unhealthy sweets. Yet it is precisely now that a healthy, balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is particularly important.
There are many plants and natural active substances that can help the body relax, combat stress and promote sleep. For example, this is the case thanks to an herbal remedy consisting of valerian, passionflower, butterbur and lemon balm.
Advice during an exam
Good preparation already helps a lot, but what if you panic during the exam and if you risk a blackout? You may find these tips helpful:
Relaxation Techniques and Breathing Exercises
There are a variety of relaxation techniques and breathing exercises that can also be used quickly and discreetly during examination. They can be learned beforehand in a course, for example, or by watching DVDs or learning videos.
Exercise: Quick Breath Relaxation Exercise
When we are tense, we breathe faster. Conversely, when we breathe slowly, our feeling of stress decreases. A simple exercise is the 5 second exercise. Breathe in and out deeply through your nose. With each inhale and exhale, slowly count to five. Repeat five times.
Take short movement breaks
If possible, combat nervousness with movement. For example, you can take advantage of a pee break to do softening or stretching exercises.
Sometimes mantras or short phrases (positive affirmations) prepared before the exam can be helpful. For example, children, young people or adults may say to themselves: “I am able to concentrate” or “I am able to solve this problem”.
Inform the examiner beforehand
Teachers or examiners are often very understanding if they have been informed beforehand. Thus, short breaks or repetition of questions during oral examinations may be possible.
Different active herbal substances and herbal medicines can calm, soothe and relax. This is the case, for example, with a remedy composed of valerian, passionflower, butterbur and lemon balm.
Herbal remedies for exam stress
Herbal tranquilizers are very helpful in naturally and gently combating exam stress. There are long-term anxiolytic plant active substances which are soothing in situations of significant stress. The following herbs can be used individually or are also often available as combination preparations with complementary effects: