Anxiety – Test Anxiety

Managing Test Anxiety – Handout on Relaxation Techniques


Progressive Muscle Relaxation: A technique for reducing anxiety by alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles. It was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s. The physical component involves the tensing and relaxing of muscle groups. The mental component focuses on the difference between the feelings of the tension and relaxation.

  • Lower Arms: Put your arms straight out in front of you with palms down. Make two fists. Pull the fists toward you by bending your wrists.
  • Upper Arms: Pull your elbows down and at the same time as close to your body as you can without touching. Do not tense your lower arms.
  • Lower Legs: Extend your legs straight in front of you. Pull your toes toward your body by bending your ankles.
  • Upper Legs: Tense the front and back muscles in your upper legs, remembering to keep your lower legs relaxed.
  • Abdomen: Tense your abdomen as though a pillow were about to hit you in the stomach.
  • Chest: Take a deep breath, hold it, and at the same time pull your shoulders back and try to make your shoulder blades touch. Feel the tension like a ring circling your chest and back.
  • Shoulders: Shrug your shoulders, attempting to touch your shoulders to your ears.
  • Neck: Press the beck of your neck straight back against a chair or wall.
  • Forehead: Tense your lower forehead by pulling your eyebrows together.       Tense your upper forehead by raising your eyebrows.
  • Jaw: Gently clench your teeth together and pull the corners of your mouth back toward your ears.


Abdominal Breathing: When tense, your breathing usually becomes shallow and rapid, high in the chest. When relaxed, you usually breathe more fully, deeply and from your abdomen. Benefits include: increased oxygen supply to the brain, stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, greater mind-body connection, increased efficiency in excretion of body toxins, improved concentration and relaxation.

  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose deep into your abdomen
  • Exhale fully through your mouth
  • Inhale and exhale for the same time frame
  • Monitor the expansion and contraction of your abdomen with your hand, bringing a physical focus to the exercise
  • Utilize a visual component


Visualization: A technique involving focus on positive mental images in order to induce relaxation. This is a method of purposefully using imagery to modify thoughts, feelings and behavior.

  • Focus on a place
  • Focus on your body
  • Incorporate all of your senses


Resource and recommended reading : The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (2000) by Edmund J. Bourne



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s