By: Stan Popovich
Taking Exams was the toughest part of being a student at Penn State.
Each exam was 35% of your final grade at the end of the semester. This means that if you messed up on one exam you would be lucky if you passed the entire class. If you failed the class, then you would have to retake the entire class again next semester. In addition, there was no such thing as an easy class at Penn State.
Before each major exam, I would worry about If I would be able to pass my exams. My mind would get overwhelmed with fearful thoughts, which created more fear and worry, which in turned created more fearful thoughts and worry. I was caught up in this vicious cycle of worry and fear which made things even more difficult and scary.
I had to do something.
The first thing I did was to learn to take one day at a time. Instead of worrying about next week, I would take each day one at a time. Secondly, I made it a habit to exercise more because exercise would get rid of my negative thoughts and help me to think more clearly. I got in the habit of talking to God about my fears and worries. Using God was a great help. Instead of studying my brains out, I made it a habit to spend some more time with my friends. Doing social activities with my friends was a great stress releaser during exam week.
I also talked to a mental health professional about my fears and she gave me different ideas on how to cope. I also focused on the facts of my current situation. I reasoned that all I could do was my best and if I failed, then I would learn from my mistakes and it would not be the end of the world.
The worst case scenario would be to transfer to another school in my area which wasn’t as difficult. Having a plan helped me to relax. Before each exam I would take deep breaths. It was very tough but I passed all my classes and I eventually graduated a few years later.
We all get into that vicious cycle of worrying where you get overwhelmed with worrying and fearful thoughts. This creates more panic and worry, and eventually you can’t function because you are a basket case. If you are in this situation try to use the same techniques I did when I was at Penn State. Those techniques I used can be used in any situation that gets us worked up with worry and fear. If you can manage your thoughts, you will stop this vicious cycle of worry. Most importantly use the services of a professional to give you additional advice.
Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods” – an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to: http://www.managingfear.com/