It is time to maximize your test scores and minimize your stress. It’s exam season for students and working professionals who are obtaining or renewing their licenses or certifications. Studying for these tests can be extremely stressful. For adults, this means striking a balance among family and work responsibilities, and learning new material. For students, it’s usually a time management issue stemming from procrastination and social / peer distractions.
10 tips to lower your stress levels, so you can maximize your test scores:
Eat foods that increase your serotonin which counter high cortisol levels that occur in stressful situations, like blueberries and bananas. Foods with B-6, protein and complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, rice, sunflower seeds, tuna, whole grain breads, pasta, cereals and fruit increase serotonin and endorphins, which open the brain channels.
Set Your Mood
Make sure to wear your favorite color to the test. Science shows that color greatly influences our mood, productivity and creativity. Science is beginning to tell us how greatly our moods, productivity and creativity are influenced by color. Surround yourself with your favorite color, from your pencils to your earrings. This is calming and creates a balance in your test-taking environment.
Walk It Off
Walk around the block. Exercise produces endorphins (healing hormones) almost immediately, which helps lower cortisol effectively and reduces stress. Or, discover new exercises to do during breaks such as; yoga stretches, tai chi or chi gong moves.
Laugh It Up
Rent a comedy or listen to a funny CD the night before the test. Laughter has been scientifically proven to reduce stress hormones and release endorphins. Go to YouTube.com and watch a funny two-minute video. Find a website with jokes and share them with your family. Laughter even boosts your immune function and will prevent you from getting sick.
Soak It Up
Take a hot bath the night before the test – try using aromatherapy candles for additional relaxation. Science tells us that water reduces stress in the mind, body and soul. The morning of the test, turn on the faucet and put your hands (up to your wrists) under the water. Take a deep breath and clear your mind for one minute.
Gracious Under Pressure
Maintain an “attitude of gratitude.” It is physiologically impossible to be grateful and experience stress at the same time. Studies tell us daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Research shows grateful individuals report having more energy and less physical complaints than their non-grateful counterparts.
You’re Not Alone
Look at the others in the testing room as a community. Isolation is an illusion. Viewing your fellow testers as a team will increase your feeling of safety and decrease your heart rate. Community is essential to reducing stress.
Repeat positive affirmations such as “I will do my best today” or “All is well.” Stop self hate talk and thinking. Research shows speaking positive to yourself decreases the production of stress hormones that affect your memory.
Remember to breathe deeply. Most people take shallow breaths when they are stressed, which starves the body and brain of oxygen. Develop the practice of taking a deep breath or two before you take tests to clear your mind, body and soul.
Practice guided imagery by taking a deep breath and imagining yourself in a safe place like the beach or a meadow. This gets you centered, clears the mind and neutralizes the worry. Science tells us that guided imagery is an excellent method for reducing stress.