The next time you feel nervous or anxious before a test or presentation, try this simple trick: Take ten minutes to write down your feelings about it. Psychologists at the University of Chicago recently published an article in the journal Science about this easy way for anxious students to relax before a high-stakes exam.
The leaders of the study aimed to better understand why pressure-filled exam situations undermine some students’ performance. In the clinically depressed, writing about emotional events has been shown to reduce mental time devoted to revisiting distressing ideas, and by extension, the psychologists inferred that writing about one’s emotions before an exam would free up brain power for the immediate task. Indeed, the study showed that stressed students who were given ten minutes to express their feelings on paper performed significantly better than their peers who either wrote about other topics or did nothing at all.
As any A+ tutor or student knows, good test preparation is key, but this could be another useful tool to add to the test-taker’s kit. When nervous, write about it!