5 Exercises & Tips to Lower Your Anxiety Before a Big Exam

March 16, 2019

For many of us, college was absolutely the best time in our lives. The freedom and friendships made those four years incredibly special. But college isn’t all sparkles and unicorns. For others, college is a completely different and often negative experience. As fun as it can be, it’s also incredibly stressful, especially when it comes time to […]

5 Exercises & Tips to Lower Your Anxiety Before a Big Exam

March 16, 2019

For many of us, college was absolutely the best time in our lives. The freedom and friendships made those four years incredibly special. But college isn’t all sparkles and unicorns. For others, college is a completely different and often negative experience.

As fun as it can be, it’s also incredibly stressful, especially when it comes time to take an exam. The bigger and more important the exam is, the more we tend to suffer from anxiety, and the less likely we are to do our best.

If this scenario sounds all too familiar to you, then use the following tips and exercises to help lower your anxiety before the next big exam you take:

1. Breathe Deeply

When we feel fear, our body can go into an adrenaline-fueled panic mode. This chemical and physical reaction is how our ancestors survived numerous threats. But in this state, our minds do not function properly. In fact, they often go completely blank.

When we take slow, deep breaths, we help our bodies go from the survival response to a relaxed response. This helps the blood flow back into our brain and helps us focus on the task at hand.

2. Change Your Perspective

Most of us think of tests as something designed specifically to trick us. The truth is, if you have studied and are totally prepared, then the test is actually an opportunity for you to show off how much you know.

The other truth is your professors WANT you to pass. When you pass, they look good. So stop going into the exam with a negative attitude and go in feeling confident and knowing your teachers want you to do well.

3. Start Strong

To set the right tone for the test, scan it to find those questions you are 100% sure about and answer those first. This will help you feel confident and put your mind into a free-flow thinking state.

4. Be Realistic

What is your history of taking exams? Have you generally done well in the past? Are you a good student that makes an effort? If so, remind yourself of these facts. It’s easy to have dramatic and unrealistic ideas floating around in your head right before an exam. Thoughts like, “I’m gonna fail and then I won’t pass the class and I won’t get my degree and will end up working at Starbucks the rest of my life if I’m lucky.”

This likely won’t happen so don’t make an already stressful situation worse by being unrealistic.

5. Exercise

Exercise the morning before your exam. This will not only release built-up tension in your muscles (make sure to stretch after your workout), but it will also release “feel-good” endorphins that will put you in a better frame of mind.

 

If you would like some extra help handling the stressors of academic life, please reach out to me today to schedule an appointment.

 

Sources:

https://psychcentral.com/lib/9-ways-to-reduce-anxiety-right-here-right-now/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201502/test-anxiety-quick-tips

https://www.onlineschoolscenter.com/20-effective-ways-to-calm-your-nerves-before-an-exam/

5 Foods & Beverages That Can Cause More Anxiety

April 19, 2018

Most people know that a healthy diet is important in managing weight and aging well. But what many people don’t realize is that the foods we eat can significantly alter our mood. While eating foods rich in protein, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help fight depression and other mood disorders, eating the wrong kinds […]

5 Foods & Beverages That Can Cause More Anxiety

April 19, 2018

Most people know that a healthy diet is important in managing weight and aging well. But what many people don’t realize is that the foods we eat can significantly alter our mood.

While eating foods rich in protein, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help fight depression and other mood disorders, eating the wrong kinds of food can cause depression and anxiety and even worsen symptoms.

If you have panic attacks or suffer from a mood disorder, it’s important that you can identify which foods may trigger or exacerbate symptoms. As a general rule, the following 5 foods should be avoided if you suffer from anxiety.

1. Coffee

Have you ever had one too many cups of coffee and a little while later had the jitters? Coffee can worsen existing anxiety and even cause it in people who don’t normally suffer from it. Caffeine increases cortisol levels (one of our “fight or flight” hormones), which in turn makes you feel stressed even when there is no external stressor.

According to research, lower intakes of coffee (less than 6 cups per day) has been linked to less depressive symptoms.

2. Alcohol

It has been said that one or two glasses a day of alcohol such as wine is good for your heart. While this may be true for those that don’t suffer from anxiety, those that do should steer clear of alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has stated that alcohol may worsen mood and contribute to anxiety.

3. Sugar

Often people reach for sugary foods like cookies and candy when dealing with a mood disorder. While it may seem these sweat treats are soothing in the moment, sugar actually makes your negatively feelings worse. A diet high in sugar causes spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, which can wreak havoc on your moods and cause you to have panic attacks. Though delicious, avoid sugary foods as much as possible.

4. Trans Fat

It turns out trans fats found in foods like French fries and packaged snacks are not only bad for your health but for your mood as well. In fact, studies have found that foods containing trans fats, also called hydrogenated fats, can increase your risk of depression.

study, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, examined the brains of rats and found that prolonged consumption of trans fat led to more anxiety-like symptoms.

5. Gluten

You don’t have to have Celiac’s Disease to be bothered by gluten. Many people don’t realize they have an intolerance to gluten that often shows up in the form of anxiety and panic attacks. A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that those with gluten sensitivities are more prone to feeling anxious after eating wheat.

While cleaning up your diet can help you deal with your anxiety, sometimes diet alone is not enough. Therapy can help you to identify the root cause of your anxiety and cope with it.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety as a Parent

December 18, 2017

The hard work and unpredictability that makes parenting so rewarding can also cause a great deal of anxiety. Here are some simple ways to bring yourself to a place of calm. Make a To-Do List Ruminating on worries can cause lots of stress. Clear your mind by making a to-do list. Put down everything that […]

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety as a Parent

December 18, 2017

The hard work and unpredictability that makes parenting so rewarding can also cause a great deal of anxiety. Here are some simple ways to bring yourself to a place of calm.

Make a To-Do List
Ruminating on worries can cause lots of stress. Clear your mind by making a to-do list. Put down everything that needs to be done into your phone or onto a sheet of paper, and as you write them down, visualize yourself removing this task from your mind onto the list.

Watch Your Language
Many times parents believe things will get better when their children move on to the next phase of their maturity. However, the truth is that the worry will continue until you change your pattern of thought. To do this, watch the language you use to describe things. Don’t use phrases such as, “this will be a disaster if I don’t get it done on time” or “I’ll die of embarrassment if I forget.”

Also change thoughts of “I have to” to “I want to”. For example, instead of saying “I have to sign the kids up for karate” say, “I want to sign the kids up for karate because I know they’ll love it.”

Get Some Fresh Air
There’s nothing like some fresh air and sunlight to ease anxiety. Put your baby in a stroller and go for a walk around the block, to a neighbor’s house, or a local park. Take your kids to an outdoor mall or sit on the patio of a frozen yogurt shop and share a frozen treat. You can also try your local library. Some libraries also have outdoor patio areas where you can read with your kids.

Practice Mindfulness Exercises
If your anxiety is difficult to control, try deep-breathing from your belly. While you do this, concentrate on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This can help calm you when you’re feeling a panic or anxiety attack start to arise.

Use Your Support Network
Call your friends or family to chat or ask for advice. It may also help to vent with a Facebook parenting group or other online message board. You can also call your therapist and make an appointment and work through your challenges.

Try these tips to control and cope with your anxiety, and enjoy the time with your children free from worry.

If you find your anxiety to be impacting your ability to be a happy, successful parent, it might be time to speak with a professional who can help. Please contact me today for an initial consultation.

Why People Misunderstand Anxiety

October 19, 2017

Did you ever play the game called “telephone” growing up? One kid whispered a secret message into the ear of the kid next to him. That kid then whispered the “same” message into the ear of the kid next to her. On and on each kid would whisper the message around the circle until you […]

Why People Misunderstand Anxiety

October 19, 2017

Did you ever play the game called “telephone” growing up? One kid whispered a secret message into the ear of the kid next to him. That kid then whispered the “same” message into the ear of the kid next to her. On and on each kid would whisper the message around the circle until you came to the last kid, who would then announce the secret message aloud.

Often the final message sounded nothing like the original message. That’s because every person has their own way of hearing and sharing information. Sometimes it’s accurate – sometimes it’s not.

In this way, you could say that language is a necessary evil. Without it we would not be able to share ideas and information with each other. But when each person has their own language filters, information can become skewed.

Personal information and language filters can make discussing and understanding anxiety disorders difficult. While we all experience anxious moments from time to time, 18% of adults in the United States are actually affected by a form of anxiety disorder.

But how many times have you heard a friend or a coworker say something like, “I was totally having a panic attack yesterday when you didn’t show up!” They weren’t actually having a panic attack, they were merely concerned you were late.

When everyone assumes they have an issue with anxiety, they believe they have first-hand experience of the disorder and therefor know what it is. But using certain language that may or may not be accurate to convey a common feeling (ie – being nervous before a job interview) is not the same thing as truly knowing something.

Panic Disorder VS Social Anxiety

There are two main types of anxiety disorder and for this discussion, it’s important to make the distinction between each.

Panic Disorder

People who have been diagnosed with and suffer from panic disorder believe very strongly that the “panic attacks” they experience mean something is physically very wrong with them. For instance, many sufferers believe they are having a heart attack. Some may believe the dizziness and shortness of breath is a result of some serious and undiagnosed illness such as a brain tumor.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

People with social anxiety disorder experience anxiety when faced with social situations. They do not believe their anxiety is related to an illness or disease, yet have little control over their fear of social interactions. Their anxiety becomes debilitating when the person feels they may be singled out, embarrassed or ridiculed.

People who suffer from social anxiety disorder will do anything to alleviate their fear. This means decreasing the amount of social interactions they have on a daily basis as much as possible. This disorder negatively impacts the person’s ability to emotionally connect with others, and holds them back in their career and academic life.

Because of language discrepancies, those who don’t have an anxiety disorder sometimes believe they do, while those that do may assume they don’t.

The main point to get across here is this:

It is normal to feel anxious, fearful and worried from time to time. But feeling anxiety on a daily basis, to the point where you are concerned for your physical health or are compromising your career and personal relationships is not normal.

Anxiety Disorders Are Treatable

No one should have to live with a debilitating anxiety disorder. The good news is, anxiety disorders are treatable. A therapist can help to uncover the root cause of the fear and provide tools and strategies to cope.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

3 Tips to Get You on the Right Side of Calm

June 15, 2017

They say you can wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But many days it feels like you woke up on the wrong side of calm. And who can blame you? Life seems to have gotten more complicated, stressful and chaotic, making it more difficult to feel peaceful and calm. But there are things […]

3 Tips to Get You on the Right Side of Calm

June 15, 2017

They say you can wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But many days it feels like you woke up on the wrong side of calm. And who can blame you? Life seems to have gotten more complicated, stressful and chaotic, making it more difficult to feel peaceful and calm.

But there are things you can do each day to get yourself on the right side of calm. Here are 3 of them:

1. Breathe Deeply

Many people are shallow breathers, meaning they take small, short breaths. But did you know shallow breathing is actually part of the “fight or flight” response?  It’s an evolutionary adaptation designed to keep us safe from danger, like that angry sabretooth tiger chasing us. When faced with danger, our heartbeat speeds up and we breathe faster in order to get more oxygen for fighting or fleeing.

Our bodies don’t recognize real danger (that tiger) from modern day danger (that stack of bills). And so we spend most days breathing like our life depends on it.

One of the quickest ways to calm yourself is to slow down your breathing. Many people scoff at the idea that breathing deeply and slowly will do much of anything. Those that try it know deep breaths have an incredible calming affect.

2. Get Familiar with Your Acupressure Points

There are key acupressure points located on your hands, face, and head. These points are near bundles of nerves that, when massaged or tapped, can help relax your entire nervous system.  This is why we instinctively rub our forehead and temples when we’re feeling stressed. You can subtly apply pressure to the meaty part of the hand between the thumb and forefinger when in a stressful meeting, at the airport, or any public setting when you need to calm down but don’t want to call much attention to yourself.

3. Focus on the Positive Things in Your Life

Every night before you fall asleep, think about three things that happened that day you are grateful for. They can be small, like that parking spot in front of the always-busy post office you got this morning, or big, like your son’s ankle was sprained not broken.

Feeling happy and grateful will naturally calm you down and give you a different perspective on things. And, doing this exercise night after night will train your brain to be more positive.

Have you tried these tips in the past but are still dealing with persistent anxiety and worry? Therapy can help you uncover the root cause of your anxiety and provide tools for coping.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Do You Suffer from Anxiety? Yoga Can Help!

May 17, 2017

Life is full of moments that cause us to feel stressed or nervous. Getting up and speaking in front of a large group of people, starting a new school, and trying to ace that important job interview – all of these scenarios can make us fearful, resulting in sleepless nights and performance jitters. The problem […]

Do You Suffer from Anxiety? Yoga Can Help!

May 17, 2017

Life is full of moments that cause us to feel stressed or nervous. Getting up and speaking in front of a large group of people, starting a new school, and trying to ace that important job interview – all of these scenarios can make us fearful, resulting in sleepless nights and performance jitters.

The problem starts when this fear becomes persistent and overwhelming and interferes with everyday life. At this point “normal fear” becomes a full-blown anxiety disorder.

While a certified therapist should be consulted to develop a plan for treating your anxiety disorder, yoga is an effective and natural way to get some relief from symptoms like trouble sleeping, muscle tensions, and chronic digestive upset.

Yoga, it turns out, can help control anxiety in a few different ways:

1. Yoga Builds Confidence

Anxiety can result from a lack of confidence in our ability to handle negative situations, either real or theoretical, that may arise. We are not so much fearful of public speaking as we are fearful that we are somehow going to “screw up.”

Yoga is a major confidence-builder because it works to strengthen the body and mind at the same time. The practice includes body postures and breathing techniques, along with ancient meditation approaches, and combined, these can help a person feel calm, centered, and able to handle any situation that crops up in their life.

2. Yoga Distracts Your Mind from the Negative Loop

What can you do when your mind seems to be stuck on an endless loop of negative and worrisome thoughts? Distract with other thoughts.

Yoga trains a person to focus their thoughts on the moment, specifically by thinking only of their rhythmic breath. As soon as the mind wanders to its typical negative thinking, the practitioner simply guides it back to the breath without anger or judgement. Feelings of calmness and acceptance naturally follow intense breath work.

3. Yoga is like Your Inner Therapist

Yoga is a wonderful compliment to therapy because, like your therapist, yoga helps you to observe how your mind works. And, also like your therapist, there is no judgement involved. Mediation is simply about paying attention to the thoughts you are having, keeping the thoughts that are helpful and releasing those that are harmful.

Yoga and meditation will also help you to train your mind to focus on the positive aspects of your life. When you surround yourself with positivity, the fear of negativity subsides.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment for your anxiety disorder, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.