Many students struggle with academically-related anxiety, be it final exams, major presentations or unit tests. But what if there was a way to curb some of that nervousness to let your true potential shine through? Read on to find out!
A study published in the journal Science found students who took 10 minutes to write down what they felt anxious about, (before writing a test), improved by almost a whole grade point! If you are interested in reading the abstract for free or purchasing the article to read yourself, I have included a link at the end of this post.
Although this study focused on test situations, I have found that this method works for oral presentation anxiety as well. For example, many students begin to panic before they go up for a presentation in front of their class. They worry that they won’t remember what they are supposed to say, or that they are going to look silly in front of their classmates. Having had presentation anxiety, I tried this method of journaling to calm down and what I found was quite surprising.
My train of thoughts went something like this, “What am I going to do if I get up there and I forget everything…everyone is going to start laughing at me and think I’m dumb…I will never be able to face these people ever again…My reputation at this school will be ruined…” Yet when I stepped back and looked at what I wrote, I nearly laughed at myself. How could I possibly forget everything that I had practiced hours putting together and rehearsing? Besides, why would a group of 30 or so people, who were going through the exact same experience as me, start to taunt me after I went up to present? All of these thoughts were extremely irrational, and a classic example of what happens when anxiety is left to take over your brain.
The thing about anxiety is that it can be elusive and difficult to control for many people. Our thoughts are not a tangible “thing” that can be easily discarded. Yet, by writing down those thoughts, we can physically see what we are freaking out about.
I also understand that not all of us enjoy writing. Yet even if you are not into journaling, doing something as simple as quickly scribbling down your worries on the corner of your paper can be enough to calm down an anxious mind. As a final note, this method has only been proven to work if you write down your thoughts using pen and paper. In a world where a significant portion of students have smart phones, it might be tempting to try typing out a note on your phone, or sending a text to a friend. Although there is no harm in trying it out, I would strongly suggest that you try writing it out the old fashioned way and avoid pulling out your beloved phone for this technique! So next time you feel those nerves bubbling up, pull out a pen and paper and try this out.
As promised, here is a link to the original article: