As the maxim says, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
Well, here we go; the end of the scholastic year. This brings a batch of exams, not just for children but also for those adults who have taken a course to improve or learn a new skill.
While exams should simply reflect the amount of knowledge you have learned during the year, for most people it turns out to be an assessment of their personal performance. And it certainly increases the amount of exam pressure.
Maybe you are one of the lucky whose motivation and concentration are boosted by a bit of tension. Too much fear, however, will prevent you from being as efficient as you normally are (as explained in my 3rd episode of this series about stress and fear). For example, a few days before the exam you may find that you suffer from disrupted sleep. On exam day, you may even experience nausea, perspiration, the shakes or much else.
Quite often your self-esteem of wanting to do your best will enhance these symptoms, but your perfectionism or the expectations of the outcome will have an impact too.
For instance, if an exam’s result decides whether or not you will get a promotion, there will be a lot at stake for you emotionally. It could mean a big life change, an opportunity to enjoy a more comfortable income, or greater recognition of your work. The pressure, therefore, that you put on yourself will be significant.
To manage the stress, one of the tools that life coaches use is to assess what would happen if you fail. They would question you and challenge you so that you can gain some perspective and realise that you are not really going to die (as fear is based on a survival emotion) but that it may simply be a delay or a bump on the road. Then she or he would invite you to find different options to overcome failure. It will help you to release some stress. Maybe even taking the exam more lightly and less emotionally will free you from fear. This will enable you to be at your best during the test.
Should you want some more tips on dealing with stress, you can access a free 5 tips to Dance With Your Fears (Gracefully) and find your way back to calmness at www.christelmesey.com. This is also available in a French version.