Imagine walking into your classroom to take a test, but when you sit down at your desk suddenly your heart rate jumps followed by sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness and trembling. This is an all too familiar feeling for some GCC students.
The symptoms mentioned above are related to test anxiety disorder. Luckily for the GCC student body, Crescent Orpelli, mental health counselor and clinical supervisor at the Center for Students with Disabilities, located inside the GCC Health Center, conducts a series of workshops coupled with Buddhist meditation techniques to help relax students who are experiencing Test Anxiety Disorder.
Test anxiety is a response to situations where an individual will be evaluated, judged, assessed or observed by others. This causes anxiety in people because in a situation where value judgment is being passed, there is a threat of loss of self-esteem.
The anxious feelings act as a blocker and interfere with an individual’s performance in school. Orpelli feels that if students have felt or feel any symptoms of anxiety it is important to seek help.
“Test Anxiety Disorder is a debilitating condition, it can lead to fear for future test taking and inhibit students desire to succeed.”Also, students with this condition tend to have a “negative self-image, which results in lower self-confidence,”Orpelli said. Because of concern for the GCC student body, Orpelli has created interactive workshops that are held once a month in the San Rafael building.
These workshops consist of interactive forums, which help students deal with their test taking anxieties.
According to Orpelli The forums are cooperative discussions that help “normalize negative individual experiences by listening and interacting with students who have the same problems.”This leads to less “isolation and estrangement from the group.”By helping students understand that they are not the only ones with these experiences, Orpelli can begin to help them.
In order to help students, Orpelli said there are two main goals for the workshops. The first is to eliminate “negative self-talk,”or psyching yourself out. Negative self-talk includes telling yourself “I can’t do it”or “I’m going to fail.”These thoughts are one of the key factors that lead to Test Anxiety Disorder. The second is to identify these thoughts and challenge them. By identifying these feelings, students can isolate these thoughts. Through “conscious breathing techniques”[also taught at Orpelli’s workshops] students can begin to calm and control the anxious feelings.
Calm and controlled is the basis for the Buddhist meditation seminars, which are held weekly at GCC, Orpelli also organizes these seminars.
The meditation programs have been a part of GCC’s Anxiety Management Program for the past three years and have proven to be the most popular meetings.
These seminars are unique in that they are both free for students and faculty. Orpelli’s workshops are strictly for students but the meditation meetings are for everyone.
The seminars are taught by a Buddhist monk and they do not require any experience, specific spiritual belief or religious affiliation. The meditating clinics are simply tools to help both students and faculty.
The next workshop with Orpelli will be held on Thursday at noon in SF 108. The Buddhist breathing technique seminars are held weekly on Mondays at noon in SF 112.
Orpelli’s vision for creating the meditation seminars was to promote self-help and encourage people to look for new ways to approach life. “Stress is a part of life, it cannot be gotten rid of, but these seminars help promote breathing techniques that can help neutralize stress.”