Here are 4 powerful ways that can help you overcome your anxiety and will stop you from sabotaging your own performance:
1) Give yourself permission to fail
This may seem counterintuitive but it is important in order to take the pressure off. Test anxiety links to fear of failure and you need to face this fear head on. What is the worst that can happen? Try and get a bigger perspective on the event. Although the exam is important and you want to do well, it is just an exam. It is not a matter of life and death and many brilliant people, such as Albert Einstein for example have not performed well in school or standardised tests, yet went on to achieve great things in life. Make yourself familiar and comfortable with the option of failing.
2) Remember: You are enough!
Do not allow your self-worth to be defined by an exam. Use positive, daily affirmations to remind yourself that you are enough, worthy and loveable regardless of how you will perform in the exam. A passed exam may be the icing on the cake but remember that the cake without icing is still edible.
3) Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of non-judgmental present moment awareness. Focusing on an object such as your own breath lessens the mind’s tendency to run away with every thought that comes along and brings you back to the present moment. All anxiety feeds off repetitive thought patterns around events that have not happened yet but may (or may not!) happen in the future. Mindfulness will help you break through these worry cycles and root you more firmly in the present moment.
4) Use visualisation
Visualisation is a very powerful method to prepare for the actual exam situation and athletes use this method frequently to prepare for big sporting events. It involves you visualising the day of the exam in as much detail as possible, from the moment you wake up until you actually write the exam. It is important to hold the image of you being calm and confident throughout every part of the visualisation. Stop as soon as you start to feel anxious and then, after a break, start again from the beginning. Step by step you will be able to visualise the whole day all the way through to the exam while feeling calm and confident. By practising in this way you re-programme your mind to view a situation that you used to perceive as threatening in a more balanced and realistic light.
Good luck! :-)