Just keep swimming

Sometimes at this point of semester it can seem like time is very fluid. One minute you’re staring at the page thinking I have been trying to read this forever! The next you are heading into an exam and wondering where the last couple of weeks went?

Often you might find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed, and as mentioned a couple of weeks ago it is important to manage this anxiety and come up with a plan. But how about the day before an exam when it all just seems so BIG or when you actually are driving to the exam or sitting waiting to get started in the room?

Emma introduced some ideas to help cope with the intense anxiety that often comes up at these times and I thought this week might be a good time to re-visit some ideas from one of our tipsheets.

Grounding techniques are quick and easy strategies to help you stay calm and reduce stress, anxiety or panic. They keep you ‘grounded’ in the here and now, the present reality, and allow you to connect with what is really going on rather than getting caught up in thoughts and worries about the past or future.

There are some really easy ones like counting to ten or stamping your feet on the ground. Then there are those that will take a little more time like using visual imagery or keeping a journal of your thoughts, feelings and observations. Here are a few that you might find useful when preparing for an exam or even sitting in the exam. Often they can be done without others knowing you are doing anything at all.

  1. Use a grounding phase like “I’m ok” “stay calm” or “I can do this”
  2. Focus on your breath. Inhale for a count of six and then exhale to a count of four. If you are a visual learner you might want to visualise your breath going in as one colour and exiting another colour
  3. Connect with your senses – name three things you can see, hear, smell and touch
  4. Visualise yourself in a comfortable or happy place and feel the safety that brings to your body
  5. If you are feeling ‘stuck’, change how you’re positioned. Wiggle your fingers, tap your feet. Pay attention to the movement. You are in control of your movement

These techniques don’t work for everything but they can be useful in some situations. If you feel like you are becoming stretched in the final days of study or if you become overwhelmed by anxiety in the exam, or anywhere stressful, try something to bring you back to the ground.

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