Breathing Exercises to Relieve Test Anxiety
Test anxiety is a very real psychological phenomenon. What’s worse is that it has the potential of severely derailing your test-preparation program. That’s why many people, who have learned to perform well on tests, incorporate breathing exercises into their strategy. Here are some good breathing exercises that are perfect for the testing room. They’re perfect for a couple of reason: First, because they’re done while sitting down (including sitting down at your classroom chair), and second, because they’re designed to relax you quick enough to help you just moments before you start the exam.
1. Sit down in your chair. Inhale slowly, and as you do so, say to yourself, “I AM. . .” Now exhale slowly, and as you do, complete the sentence, “. . .relaxed.” Do this several times until you feel the anxiety leaving you. Here are some breathing exercises from Dr. Andrew Weil.
2. This second one is called the stimulating breath. It’s good for testing situations, because not only does it relax you, but it raises your vital energy level and increases your alertness. Sit upright and close your mouth (but keeping it relaxed). Now inhale and exhale in short, quick bursts, through your nose. Each inhale and exhale should last only about a half second. Keep them spaced evenly. This exercise produces a rapid movement of your diaphragm. Suggestion: Do this in the back of the classroom, when not many people are around, or they’re likely to think something’s wrong with you. Do this exercise just about 20 or 30 seconds. If you do it right, you should feel invigorated and yet free of stress.
3. This next one is often called the relaxing breath exercise. This one is super-simple to do while sitting in a classroom chair. Sitting straight up, place the tip of the tongue to it touches the ridge of tissue behind the top front teeth. Keep it there during the entire exercise. Purse your lips slightly. Now exhale completely through the mouth; you should feel a “whoosh” go out of your mouth. Now close your mouth and breath in quietly through the nose, counting to four in your head. Now hold until you count to seven. Return your mouth to a slight pursing of the lips and exhale through the mouth, again generating the “whoosh,” to a mental count of eight. This entire motion counts as one repetition. Do it again three more times. Remember: quiet breaths in through the nose and “whooshing” breaths out through your mouth, with the tip of your tongue remaining in the same position. This exercise acts as a natural tranquilizer. If you feel a bit lightheaded as you do the exercise, don’t worry; it’ll pass.
4. Our last one is called breath counting. Sit in your classroom chair, with your spine straight and with your head slightly inclined forward. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Let the breaths be exhaled without attempting to influence it. The exhale should be slow and quiet. Now start the exercise by counting to “one” while exhaling. The next exhale is “two,” the next one, “three,” the next one “four,” and then “five.” After you reach five, start a new cycle, beginning at “one” again. Remember to count only when exhaling. Try to do this for about 8 or 10 minutes before the start of the test, and you should be fully relaxed and yet alert.