Anxiety in youth due to competitive exams. Find a therapist near you.

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Adolescence and early young adulthood are found to be a particularly sensitive period with regards to emotional and mental health. In these phases, several individuals are seen to develop anxiety symptoms. The main stressor for this age group is stress related to academics and examinations. Whilst stress can be positive or negative, test anxiety relates only to the adverse experiences of stress, where perceptions of not being able to manage the stressor are internalized negatively. Exam related anxiety involves negative physiological, emotional, and cognitive responses to a test or assessment, where symptoms such as rapid heart rate and breathing, and worry about underperforming, occur before, during, or after an assessed performance. Competitive exams are one of the most prevalent reasons behind anxiety faced among adolescents and youth of our country.

Competitive exams are centralized exams where a huge number of individuals attend the exams every year. The competition level is high in these kinds of exams. Another stressor for competitive exams is they happen only once or twice per year. Many students suffer due to anxiety related to competitive exams and their performance gets affected due to that. Few symptoms related to exam related stressors are:

  • Low Morale and low self-confidence.
  • Confusion.
  • Fear and Being Worried all the time.
  • Difficulty in Concentration and Forgetfulness.
  • Difficulty in Sleeping
  • Overthinking.
  • Inability to make decisions.
  • Unsure of Exam Preparation.
  • Feeling Isolated and Depressed all the time.
  • Mood Swings
  • Peer Pressure- Being compared with friends.
  • Parental expectations and Parental Pressure.

There are a few specific ways to deal with anxiety associated with competitive examinations. They are

Studying Effectively- A person can reduce their anxiety by studying effectively. It is better to prepare throughout the year than keeping most of the syllabus for the end. Feeling that you don’t have enough time to cover everything increases anxiety. Study in 50-minute blocks with 10-minute activity or nutrition breaks.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle – Maintaining a healthy lifestyle comprising of exercise, a healthy diet, proper sleep helps to deal with exam anxiety. It is important to avoid substances that increase anxiety: caffeine, sugar, nicotine, and cannabis.

Breathe- Deep breathing is a simple and extremely effective way to help one feel calm and manage stress and anxiety. An individual can take a few deep breaths whenever they begin to notice their stress levels rising, such as while studying or waiting to enter the exam venue.

Positive Self Talk– To boost one’s morale and relax themselves, one can bring pictures of a happy place in their mind or come up with a morale-boosting mantra like “I can do this” or “I worked hard and deserve this.”

Stop Comparison with others- The most important step is to stop comparing self with others. It doesn’t matter what other people are doing. Pay attention to your own test and pace, and forget about the other students in the room.

Hobbies- Hobbies can help one relax. It is important to put aside the books and take a few minutes or up to an hour to put their stress towards an activity you enjoy.

Write- Writing when one is stressed out can help him/her figure out the things that are bothering him/her. While it may seem obvious that the act of studying itself is stressful, one can take a few minutes to write down a list of what aspects of the situation are causing anxiety.

Get out of the house or room - Leave the place where you are studying in order to re-energize. Spend time in nature for a little while to relax your mind. Spend some time thinking about something other than your study materials. Talk it out with friends or just watch a movie.

Seek Help- If one is not being able to manage stress on their own, it is important to seek help, talk to elders, friends if required with professionals. Meeting professionals like psychiatrist or psychologist can help one understand the problem and help them deal with it in a better manner.

If you think your child could be stressed, please get in touch with a psychiatrist or psychologist or a therapist who can help in dealing with the anxiety your child could be going through due to competitive exams. Mpower is one such mental health initiative by Aditya Birla Education Trust which has experienced professionals working towards mental health. Mpower has centres at multiple locations like Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata. A new center is coming soon in Pune as well. You can visit any of these centres between 10 am and 6:30 pm. Find a centre nearest to you.


1/155, 15, Nyaymurti Sitaram
Patkar Marg, Khareghat Colony,
Hughes Road, Mumbai - 400007

+91 22 23828133
+91 22 23856228
+91 9702800044


2nd Floor, 2983, 12th Main,
Indira Nagar, HAL, 2nd stage,
Bengaluru - 560 008.

+91 80 25209712


Unit N210A-211, 2nd Floor,
North Block, Ideal Plaza,
11/1, Sarat Bose Road
Kolkata 700020

+91 90735 55522


22B, vasantrao N Naik Marg,
Opp. Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo,
Mumbai - 400 007.

+91 22 2386 8650
+91 22 2387 5147
+91 81087 99299

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