Combat Test Anxiety with 'Breathe'

This post is part of our ongoing series about Breathe, a stress management tool developed by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). We shared the first post on the blog about Breathe earlier this month.

In the second installment of meditation exercises, CAPS created an audio and video series specifically about test anxiety. While everyone has different methods of combating academic stress, CAPS identified some universal techniques backed by research that anyone can use.

In a brief video, CAPS introduces research by author Dr. Sian Beilock in the book “Choke.” In short, when students are worried about test performance, their anxieties end up occupying valuable working memory space in the brain. Instead of storing important exam information, the brain gets “clogged up” with worries.

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The first audio meditation to push out this anxiety is called “Write It Out!” I’m an avid journaler and aim to meditate on occasion, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise to see an exercise bringing the two practices together. For the guided seven-minute audio, all you need is a paper and pen to write out your worries and move them from brain to paper. The meditation asks, “What am I worried about with this exam?” and encourages you to do a giant mind purge, as if you were moving all your physical belongings out of an old apartment.

Similarly, the rest of the audio and other meditation options are great reminders that we often get ahead of ourselves with pre-exam nerves. Most importantly, remember to close your eyes and relax once in a while. CAPS suggests that once you learn these quick, effective mental exercises, you can return to them at any time — even for a few seconds during your exam to reset and focus.
For other practices, such as “Walk Off Your Stress” and “Find a Comfortable Rhythm,” check out CAPS’ website and find resources created for students just like you!