This material is for those with mild anxiety. If your symptoms interfere with your daily life in significant ways, please visit Counseling & Testing Services (270-745-3159), Potter Hall 409 or connect with them online at wku.edu/heretohelp. The "Here to Help" section provides answers to questions anonymously over the Internet.
Change unproductive stress/anxiety into productive energy. Change takes time. Change occurs unevenly. It is a very individual process so you must learn what works for you.
What are your stress symptoms? Some of the most common symptoms of stress are headache, backache, muscle tension, upset stomach, and sweaty palms. The first step toward solving a problem is assessment so you know the nature and severity of the problem.
Which types of exams are creating anxiety for you? The least?
Arrange them into a hierarchy from least to most anxiety arousing.
Least >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Most
If you talked to others, you'd find variation. For example, some despise essay, others prefer them. Some like multiple choice, others tremble at them. Some prefer history-type tests, others math-type tests. On the discussion board feel free to share what type of tests you most dislike or prefer and ask others to report theirs.
The test experience can be thought of in three parts:
What portions of the test experience are least to most anxiety arousing for you?
Least >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Most
Again, there is variation, some aren't anxious until the test is over; some calm down once the test begins. What is your pattern?(Notice, this is ever more detailed assessment. As the problem is defined or assessed, it becomes more manageable).
Start with low stress situations. As you have success with anxiety reduction skills, move on to slightly more anxiety-arousing situations.
You reduce anxiety by "nibbling around the edges"-- learning to handle the easier situations first.
Do all of the following suggestions. A common error is to make a half-hearted effort with one technique and then to quit when it doesn't work. Reducing anxiety requires an across the board approach.
You must unlearn habits and that takes effort. Expect it to take a while. Expect to stumble.
A common error is to think you should never "slip back" but "slipping" is normal. Learning is not a smooth process. Stumbling is not a problem if you learn something from stumbling.
First, don't do anything to worsen the anxiety.
Evaluate yourself and different situations. What do you do that makes it worse? How can you stop or replace those behaviors?
Your goal is enough anxiety to perform optimally but not too much, typically, that's a low level.
Avoid unproductive self-labels (e.g., "Anxious person," "Don't test well," "A failure")Substitute productive ones (e.g., "I care about school," "I'm passionate")Prepare for the examAre you studying effectively not merely studying "hard"? Amount of studying does make a difference (read and re-read) but quality of effort also has an impact. There are many sites with study skill suggestions. Keep learning about how to study. (I'm still learning!)How can you improve your reading skills? Visit http://edtech.tph.wku.edu/~ppetty/collegereading.htm scroll down about halfway and look at row of links starting "Students: Volume".
Goal: Catch anxiety at the lowest level and moderate it. Try to interrupt the vicious cycle and build a virtuous cycle instead.
What are some ways to cope with tension once it begins?
Moderate your muscle tension by using the following techniques: