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How to Use Mindfulness to Get Rid of Test Anxiety

The first thing to remember is that some amount of test anxiety is completely normal, no matter who you are.

Let’s face it, sitting in an uncomfortable desk in a roomful of your peers while silently answering questions and pressured by time doesn’t come naturally to anyone. On top of that, your student knows that their grades are important for their future success, so it’s completely normal for them to feel a little jittery before any exam.

There’s even an argument that a minimal amount of anxiety before tests is actually beneficial for students. If your student didn’t feel even a little test anxiety, that would mean they don’t believe their grades are at all important. Some test anxiety can help sharpen their focus and improve their performance.

With that being said, there are some easy ways to reduce excessive test anxiety that is negatively impacting your student’s grades in school. One of the best methods for reducing test anxiety is through mindfulness techniques.

The word “mindfulness” might conjure up images of solitary monks meditating in temples for hours or Eastern mysticism, but, in recent years, scientists have begun to realize that anyone can reap the benefits of mindfulness practices without all of the spiritual mumbo-jumbo that most people attach to it.

In simple terms, mindfulness is the mental state of conscious, non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Basically, it means focusing on the thoughts, feelings and sensations happening in each moment without judging them as good or bad.

Mindfulness meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce test anxiety, and it is so simple that students of any age can learn how to practice it. The idea is that when one is able to experience their negative thoughts and emotions without judging them or trying to avoid thinking about them, they will fade away.

Usually, mindfulness practice has a specific focus to make things easier for beginners. Since we are always breathing, that is a good place to focus all of your attention as you start your mindfulness practice.

One common mistake made by beginner meditators is that they will start forcing themselves to breathe slower or deeper, but this is not necessary. It’s better to let go and experience your breath however fast or shallow it is in the moment. Remember, your job is to experience the present moment, not to judge or try to change it.

If urgent thoughts or strong emotions temporarily distract you from your breath, you can simply acknowledge those thoughts or emotions and gently shift your awareness back to your breath without judging yourself.

So, how can your student start using mindfulness to reduce their test anxiety and boost their grades in school?

Start by explaining to them what mindfulness is and how it can help them. It might help if you try it out yourself or even start meditating with your student and talking about it afterwards until they get the hang of it.

Then, help them establish a daily mindfulness routine. I would recommend starting small. Encourage your student to set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes of breath-focused meditation before they start their homework in the afternoons or maybe before they go to school in the mornings. You could even make a calendar chart for them to mark off each day that they successfully complete their meditation.

The great thing about meditation is that, once your student gets the hang of it, they can practice it any time, anywhere, even with their eyes open! This means, when they are at school before a test, and they begin to experience test anxiety, they can focus their awareness on their breath until they are feeling a little calmer.

That’s all there is to it! Before long, your student should be feeling more in control of their anxiety and their success in school! If you think your student would benefit from some one-on-one time with a tutor who can help them better prepare for their tests, please click here to learn more about our tutoring services.