Test anxiety is a very common phenomenon, especially for those going through the licensing exam process. And while it’s not unusual to experience it, it is important to manage it. Each month we publish a blog that provides strategies on how to manage test anxiety. Thankfully, there are many different strategies you can employ and our goal in publishing a monthly blog is to help you fill your “anxiety toolbox” that you can pull from to tackle anxiety. If test anxiety is getting the better of you, or if you want to preemptively address it, take a look through our blogs to find strategies that resonate with you. We are confident you will find something that can be integrated into your study plan, which in turn can help in reducing anxiety and allow you to PASS WITH CONFIDENCE.
In this month’s blog, we are going to focus on using exercise as a way to manage test anxiety.
How can exercise help?
In last month’s anxiety management blog, we explored different mindfulness techniques that could be used while you prepare for the exam, as well as on exam day. We obviously cannot exercise mid-exam, (though some do run to the bathroom during the allotted 5 minute break :-)) but exercise can be a great tool for you to integrate into your study plan to help moderate your level of anxiety as you prepare for the exam.
There have been many studies conducted on the benefits of exercise in managing anxiety. There are several reasons exercise can help in reducing anxiety:
- Engaging in aerobic exercise releases endorphins.
- It can decrease the levels of the stress hormones–adrenaline and cortisol–in your body.
- Physical activity can improve sleep patterns.
- Exercising helps you avoid inactivity, which can increase anxiety levels.
- Generally, a healthy habit that has benefits beyond managing test anxiety.
Implementing an exercise regiment:
As coaches, we are all too aware that many of you preparing for the licensing exams are stretched quite thin with your time. Our goal in providing exercise as an anxiety management treatment is not to overwhelm you, but to offer one more option among many, that you can add to your toolbox. With that in mind, it’s important to develop a plan that is realistic based on your schedule, limitations, and competing demands.
Start off simple.
Write a list of activities you enjoy. Do you like walking, swimming, biking, yoga, or playing sports? Consider what you’ve enjoyed in the past or activities that have intrigued you. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to try something new or re-engage in an activity you’ve missed.
Look at your calendar.
Identify when you have time to participate in the activities you’ve listed. Can they be integrated into other scheduled plans—i.e. do you have a phone call that can be completed while you are outside walking? Does your baby sleep well in the stroller or a sling? Be creative with this one!
It can be challenging to start exercising when you have not been active. Finding a partner to join you can make the transition easier. Is there someone who would join you on walks? Or, if you’re interested in sports, check your local rec center for teams. There is no need to do it alone, but it’s also okay to go solo if you prefer.
It may be that you need to engage in other activities while you are exercising, but be sure to always take a moment or two to reflect on the exercise. If your schedule allows you to simply focus on your exercise, take it in, enjoy it, and give yourself a pat on the back for doing it!
If you’ve tried to manage your anxiety, but continue to struggle with it, please remember help is available! Reach out to your coach to see if they can help or speak with a therapist about your concerns.
Of course, one of the best strategies to manage your test anxiety is to start with a program that provides you with direction, a clear starting and stopping point, and helps you feel adequately prepared for your exam. And that is where we come in. Learn all you need to know for your LMFT or LCSW exams by signing up for one of TDC’s exam prep program to help you prepare for your exams today! Amanda Rowan has helped thousands of therapists and social workers pass their licensing exams. Are you our next success story?