byJane Ransom, Certified Hypnotherapist
Exam Anxiety Blocks Achievement of…
More than a year ago, Annie had failed the state board exam for acupuncture. The day-long test is notoriously hard. Many people fail it the first time around. But Annie is a highly self-disciplined and intelligent young woman who knew the material inside out.
Her problem was exam anxiety. And so, last December, she came to see me. She was signed up to retake the state boards in February, and wanted to know if hypnosis could dispel her anxiety. Short answer: Yes!
Some people suffer their whole lives from exam anxiety. Occasionally we can trace the cause back to a harsh upbringing. But just as often, there’s no clear origin; the fear takes on a life of its own. Indeed, it usually gets worse with time.
How Anxiety Takes Control of Your Mind
Whenever the person goes to take an exam, their sympathetic nervous system kicks in, putting the test-taker into “fight-flight” mode. Their heart speeds up, they perspire, their blood rushes to their inner organs. This is helpful if you’re in mortal combat or fleeing a saber-toothed tiger. But it’s no good for focusing your logical mind or accessing memory.
Each time the experience reoccurs, the subconscious mind forms a stronger association between exam-taking and “fight-flight.” A snowball effect occurs. Soon the anxiety is triggered when the sufferer merely thinks about taking an exam! Even studying becomes fraught with fear. The constant anxiety causes exhaustion, yet sleep can become elusive as insomnia adds to the snowball.
Annie’s doctor had prescribed Paxil to quiet her nerves, but the drug impaired her ability to concentrate. As her date to retake the exam approached, she was going off the Paxil and she wanted my help. We began in December with a two-hour session to condition her to sleep well at night without drugs. We agreed she’d come back in January to begin five weekly sessions to prepare for the exam.
Retraining Your Subconscious Mind
During each session we “desensitized” her to studying and test-taking. In every session, I had her visualize in great detail her studying routine and the day-long exam. The key was having her imaginatively experience those events while in a state of deep relaxation induced by hypnosis.
In that manner, I coaxed her subconscious mind to let go of the negative association between test-taking and anxiety, and to replace it with a positive association involving relaxation. Her subconscious mind learned to associate studying and test-taking with relaxation, mental focus and recall.
On the day of the actual exam, Annie felt calm and confident, able to access her full mental powers. By the end of the day, she knew she’d passed. Weeks later when scores were officially announced, she called to share the good news.
Ecstatic, she exclaimed, “This is the beginning of my new life!” It will be, among other things, a life free of exam anxiety.
Jane Ransom, MA, C.Ht., conducts hypnotherapy sessions in her downtown San Francisco office, as well as by phone and online web-cam. She helps clients with a multitude of health issues, including weight loss, chronic pain and smoking cessation, and she also leads clients to achieve career, sports and artistic success.
As a public speaker, Jane offers talks and workshops on how to boost self-confidence and motivation, improve relationships and invite inspiration. For more information, please visit Jane’s website, HypnotherapyThatWorks.
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Category: Live Your Best Life