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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How to deal with test/performance anxiety?

    I am a perfectionist when it comes to academics/school work and experience a lot of negative anxiety the hours before taking an exam. I know it doesn't help my performance because I have thoughts racing through my head, I worry about the amount of time left and simply cannot think clearly. How do I deal with this? What do I do?
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  • Julian McNally

    Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist

    Julian McNally has practised counselling psychology since 1995. He trained in client-centered and solution-oriented approaches before discovering Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 2003. The mindfulness … View Profile

    Hi,
    Grant's idea of contacting the counselling service at your uni/college is a great one. I used to work in a university counselling service and the downside of the job was that often students wouldn’t consult us until things were critical. Maybe you're not at that stage yet, but it's encouraging that you're seeking help.

    Please note though, that you may have to wait as those counselling services often get booked a long way in advance. Hang in there and keep the appointment once it's made.

    In the meantime, what can you do? You already recognise what your perfectionism and it sounds like you can see it's counterproductive - it sounds like it's paralysing you and you know what the result of that is - no results!

    So try disengaging from your worrisome thoughts about not meeting your standards and instead engage fully with a task that actually produces results. Aim to do this for short periods at first - you are retraining your brain to do something it is not used to. It won't like it, but persistence and patience will pay off. 

    You could also try some of the exercises I developed for university students at "6 ACT Conversations", especially episode 3.

    Would you mind posting back here and letting us know how you went? This is supposed to be a fun time of your life.

    All the best.
    Julian

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