The test season is in full swing: many students have checked off the ACT and the SAT (yesterday!) and others are in the middle of AP exams. Naturally, we’re seeing many of our students come in with elevated levels of stress and anxiety.
As such, we thought this would be a good time to share some thinking around managing stress. Managing stress the final link between diligent preparation and mock testing and your ultimate test results. We have found a useful TED talk, Kelly McGonigal (link): How to make stress your friend. I think all students will benefit from watching it.
In summary, there are 2 lessons to learn from the talk:
- Your attitude towards stress is important. People who believe that stress is bad experience constriction of blood vessels during stressful periods. This damages not only their mental states but also their bodies. Those who view stress as helpful see their blood vessels expand as if they are experiencing joy AND courage. Tell yourself that stress, tension and your increased heart rate are there to prepare and propel you through a challenge. Your body will believe you and turn stress from a distraction into an aid!
- Hug a friend. When you stress, your body pumps out oxytocin and this hormone normally motivates you to seek support and strengthen your social relationships. Oxytocin is a natural anti-flammatory so it protects your cardiovascular system from stress by relaxing your blood vessels and regenerating heart cells! When you are stressed, reach out to a friend for a hug. You will make both of you healthier and more prepared for anything that comes!
So, before you take an exam or face a challenge, tell yourself that your body is helping you and give your close buddy a hug or pat so that both of you will do well!