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Assessment and performance anxiety are common, given that exams and other forms of assessment necessarily entail preparation, practice and performance on the day. Performance, however, relies on an appropriate amount of anxiety and, at the right levels, it can be beneficial. When this tips into panic, however, and cortisol is produced for prolonged periods of time, this has the potential to result in an anxiety attack, anxiety disorder or depression and it can even result in physical health consequences. 

Take back control

The good news is that it is possible to take back control. Anxiety and panic often cause people to feel that they have lost control and this can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms in an attempt to regain this control. There are many self-help techniques to deal with stress but often, when the stress has already become too much, these are only so useful. Stress at this level has also been found to negatively impact performance as the cognitive response is lessened in this heightened state. 

Hypnotherapy is uniquely able to provide positive rehearsal of difficult situations, allowing students facing assessments to counter their struggles, in a safe environment, free of the pressure of the reality which they currently fear. When combined with CBT techniques, that allow students to work on their thought process behind the anxiety, alongside the behaviours that accompany it, solution focused hypnotherapy can enable students to relax by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, to create calm, and to improve self-efficacy.  

Practise self care to improve performance

Those who struggle with assessment anxiety are often those who work the hardest and they may, therefore, believe that they don’t have the time to focus on self care but this is a mistake as they could actually enhance their performance by focusing on themselves in this way, whilst also improving their physical and mental health. As a society, we are good at placing more importance on productivity than wellbeing but there is a clear link between the two which we are only able to see when we take care of ourselves. 

Students who do not apply themselves are reminded by teachers that they cannot expect to continue with the same limited efforts and expect a different outcome. This is equally true, however, for those who are working extremely hard but whose ability to cope is compromised. By seeking help, stress can be challenged and it can be managed. 

Exams will never, by their nature, be stress-free but, by taking control of the nervous system, it is possible to make them far more manageable, keeping them in perspective while actively increasing the ability to perform. 

28th November 2023