ANIMALS FOR ACADEMIC ANXIETY
From the beginning of primary school, or I have been told as far back as nursery, I had difficulties settling in. Every task I completed had to be a replica of the image I created in my head. So, imagine the dread and anxiety little Heidi experienced when she was faced with tests at the young age of 7.
Over the years, I have developed a phobia of exams. Stemmed from low self-esteem and a fear of failure, failure being anything below 100%. Studying became obsessive and compulsive, if I did not complete 12 hours a day then I was a nervous wreck. Ironically, for the past three years, even attempting exams sent my brain into complete meltdown and crisis mode. Believing that a life of 99% results is a life not worth living.
The reality of rigorously controlling something is that it takes a three hundred and sixty degrees turn before beginning to control you. Society deems a 24 hour scheduled life as perfection, I know first-hand how rigid thinking and the need for productivity is in fact a hindrance. Let us praise the “go with the flow” attitude in academia, and those learning through exam mock failures. This is how we must face difficulties in life, rather than working so intensely to avoid the what-ifs.
Only after hypnotherapy and animal therapy can I even say the word EXAM, so now I can shout EXAMS at the top of my voice without fear of irrational curses that will doom me to failure.
I am not lagging behind my high school class, I am on Heidi’s academic journey. The Heidi journey has been full of adventures and life lessons along the way, it is only beginning.
Facing academic anxiety head-on is a huge leap forward on my journey. This journey will change my life, not because of grades that I will achieve or how many hours of work experience I will clock up.
I am escaping from that rat race.
“Once we face our fear, once we treat our anxiety itself as a thing, we can then choose otherwise. Instead of filling the unknown in our minds with expectations of the tragic, we can choose to fill the void with a different expectation – the expectation of adventure.”
ANIMALS ALLEVIATE ANXIETY
Hypnotherapy is not an option for everyone, I am fortunate to be receptive to this form of therapy. However, animals have the ability to put us in a state of relaxation, they are hypnotherapists in their own right. Animals also help us to eradicate unnecessary anxiety and negative emotions, because remaining calm improve our focus and concentration on the task at hand.
So here are 3 ways that animals alleviate exam anxiety.
1. SELF CARE
Other how-to-overcome-exam-anxiety posts will tell you to have a quality sleep, to eat wholesome and nutritious brain food, to take regular breaks outside.
I understand just how difficult this can be, especially when your self-worth has hit rock bottom. This is where animals can help:
Care for your pet whilst caring for yourself.
You are your dog’s world. You feed them, you take them to the toilet, you make their tail wags. With any animal we have responsibilities away from the tasks that are gluing us to our books.
They encourage us to get outside and take a wander in the great outdoors. I shared the benefits of the outdoors here.
2. THE BEST STUDY BUDDIES
Get yourself a furry study-buddy. (Hopefully your dog won’t eat your homework).
During a particularly difficult depressive episode, a litter of puppies literally saved my life. I was reassured that everything had happened for a reason, that Esme the pup was sent to be my companion.
After sneaking Esme upstairs in my dressing gown, she would sit in my knee whilst I studied in bed. Easing the overwhelming fears of studying and exams, when life was already pretty much unbearable, my little pup was the best buddy.
They divert our attention from the never-ending spiral of worry. From feeling uneasy and anxious, our study buddies help us feel calm and concentrated.
3. ALTERNATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS
“Caring for animals gives you a sense of achievement that is not a graded % or measured in kilograms, but wagging tails and kisses.” – my ANIMALS ARE MY THERAPY post.
Check out my “Animals are my therapy” post to read how animals helped my self-esteem, in more detail.
Animals continue to motivate me on my journey, to overcome the obstacles with pride, and to shout it from the rooftop so that other people can benefit too.