The psychologist Cristina Penin Viola gives us the keys to successfully overcome the phobia of exams
- Work self-esteem, putting challenges and seeing how you overcome them.
- Perform breathing, relaxation, and mindfulness techniques to not stay blank.
- Work relationship dynamics so that the family situation does not aggravate the phobia.
The nerves before the tests of evaluation are common in the majority of students, although each student tries to fight the anxiety that generates phobia of exams with different strategies: taking an infusion of lime before the test, carrying in the pocket a four leaf clover, writing with a pen of luck or putting on that sweater that always carries good fortune.
Everyone deals with this difficulty in their own way, and normally these strategies usually work. But when the level of anxiety is so high that instead of activating blocks us, a phobia can arise that incapacitates the student to face his exams as he should. To guide us through this complex path of phobias, psychologist Cristina Penin Viola , founder of the company PSICOdynamics, explains how to deal with these situations to avoid blockages during exams.
What is anxiety and how does it influence when facing phobia of exams?
Cristina Penin: Anxiety is a defense mechanism that activates us and prepares us for what we perceive as a dangerous situation. Anxiety is what moves us to study or perform work, it helps us prepare to successfully overcome the challenges of life.
But sometimes the person may mistakenly perceive that the challenge is too great for their limited capabilities. This is the first factor that people with phobia often share about evaluation tests: they usually have low self-esteem.
And what should these students do to improve their self-esteem?
Cristina Penin: To protect this fragile self-esteem, some students usually choose to avoid the dreaded situation; that is, not to take the exam, procrastinate or drop out of school. The most important thing when working on self-esteem is to start little by little facing feared situations, developing autonomy and independence, while other areas such as hobbies are promoted, which also help us feel more secure. The important thing is to put on acceptable challenges and see how they are being overcome.
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What if the student decides to take the exam but it goes blank?
Cristina Penin: In this case, the student is suffering from a blockage stage. His anxiety has risen so much that he does not allow the mind to retrieve the information. Generally, after leaving the exam, the student has no problem remembering what was studied. In these cases, the physical activation that produces anxiety produces this blocking effect, so that training in breathing techniques, relaxation and mindfulness can help in these moments.
Does the personal and family situation of the students influence something?
Cristina Penin: Family and social expectations, of course, also play a fundamental role, being that students with families who are extremely extreme, overly critical or overprotective, are the most likely to fail in their studies. Working relationship dynamics, how you feel and position yourself with others and how to establish limits in a healthy way is a fundamental part of working with any phobic symptom.
And now that we are in a situation, what basic recommendations could you give to students when preparing exams?
- Always go to class, even those that are more boring or do not want. Only with going to class an important part of the information is already fixed.
- Be active, ask the questions you have and request tutorials when you need it.
- Organize the notes with time.
- If it costs you to study, try to schedule. Organize yourself with other classmates that also cost them and try to study together in someone’s house or in the library, so you can consult doubts among yourselves.
- The day before the exam tries to perform another activity to disconnect and sleep well. It helps to perform relaxation techniques before going to bed.
- If before the exam you are nervous, try to relativize, it is only a test of knowledge. Remember that it is always better to try than to avoid the feared situation.
- Performing relaxation techniques before and even during the exam if you are very nervous will help lower the level of activation.
The first thing that you must do now is to put into practice the advice of the expert. And if despite this, you still can not overcome the phobia of exams, we recommend that you go to a specialized center.