EXAM STRESS : NATURAL FEELING LEARN TO DEAL WITH IT*
Stress _ Points to Ponder
• Stress comes in all forms and is an unavoidable consequence of life. Transient feeling of anxiety and Stress is part of life for every individual.In the course of normal development transient feeling of anxiety is experienced and usually mastered by every child and adolescent. Anxiety may be focused around certain issues or situation.A mild degree of anxiety and stress may be stimulating and motivating, and may help to overcome stress; but high degree of stress may be disrupting.
The idea is to function with a level of stress that is life enhancing, not life threatening.
Examinations and interviews are undoubtedly situation, which call for stress. Every child goes through such situations and learns to cope up with stress arising out of them. They are also learnt by imitation of the parents or parent figures.
Appearing for examination : is one of very common situation, which an adolescent finds difficult of cope up with.
Right approach and right coping strategies may stimulate an adolescent to over come anxiety and maximize own performance in the examination.
Stress is the body's response to any unpleasant situation.
Anything can cause stress as long as it is perceived as unpleasant.However, some stressful event, such as a close contest in sport, can bring out the best in people.
Common Physical reaction during exam preparations:
• Muscle tension
• Sleep difficulties
• Repaid uneven or pounding heartbeat
• Frequent urge to pass urine
• Fast, shallow breathing
• Chest discomfort
• Change in appetite,
• Constipation or diarrhea
Psychological Reaction to Stress
• Feeling under pressure frustration and aggression
• Feeling tense and unable to relax
• Feeling mentally drained out
• Fussy, gloomy or suspicious being constantly frightened or irritable
• Inability to concentrate or complete the task.
• Balancing food choices over time is what counts.
• Breakfast provides the energy needed through an active morning
• Children who skip breakfast may have trouble concentrating
• Fast food supply more fat, salt & calories that good nutrition
• Fast food is moderation won 't ruin a healthful diet, especially when consumed with green salads.
• Replace finger chips with an apple
• Add roughage to your diet - Dalia, Corn etc. will help prevent stomach discomfort and you will feel lighter.
• The golden rule for food safety is to keep hot foods hot& cold foods cold.
• Parents should teach good habits by example.
Good Sleep - Good Exam.
• Insomnia ( The inability to fall or stay asleep) Can be caused by Stress & anxiety of Exam.
• Disturbances of 'sleep- wake' cycle during exams.
• If sleep struggles continue, talk them over with your doctor .
Exercise and Physical Activity
• Walk or cycle 15 minutes a day at least thrice a week.
• Avoid sitting cross - legged on the ground because this is bad for your knees.
• Avoid being a couch potato.
• Cut out junk food and control your weight.
• Swim or play a sport at least twice a week.
MIND GAMES TO PLAY �.. and think about
• Develop systematic problem - solving skills. How do you do that ?
• Identify the stressful situation
• Define it as an objective, a problem that can be solved.
• Brainstorm solutions - think of all the possible options but don't evaluate them.
• Anticipate the possible outcomes of each solution.
• Choose a solution and act on it.
THE MUST DO'S FOR STUDENTS
1. Know your concentration span, Study with breaks.
2. work out best time for concentration
3. group study for difficult subjects.
4. Do Not let pervious results discourage you-identify your weak areas from previous exams and work on them.
5. Time Management plan must be made for all subjects.
6. Choose a study place with minimum distractions and auto suggest to your self about your resolution.
7. Try to coincide study time with the time, you would be giving an exam.
8. In case of average achievers, master what you know and are comfortable with.
9. for low achievers, master the essential information first .
10. Prioritize the workload. Give your best concentration time to the toughest subject.
11. repeat your learnt work so the recall in exam is easy. Work not repeated or revised is easily forgotten.
12. Try to plan your revision time by drawing up a timetable. Build in time for the things you enjoy - like watching your favourite TV programme, going out with your friends, or going to play football in the park.
13. give yourself a few treats - pamper yourself with a long hot bath, or listen to your favourite CD for an hour after you have finished your revision.
14. Relax with what you know before entering the exam hall.
15. Do not get anxious about the result - cross that bridge when you come to it --- options await.
"Active" Study Strategies
when studying you can Recite You could
• Describe or explain aloud any topic in your own words.
• Teach or explain the information to someone else ( or record into a tape recorder ) or,
• Engage in simulation or role play.
When studying, you can WRITE you could
• Make a chapter study Review Card ( Use an index card: include special vocabulary, main ideas, examples, key events and people, causes, result and so on )
• Make and use a set of flashcards ( vocabulary and definition, math problems and solutions, questions and answers and so on),
• Make list of related information by categories ( causes results, important event or concepts, main ideas examples, key people and so on and recite them,
• Draw a diagram, map a sketch, or a chart; do this from memory and check your notes or books for accuracy,
• Write questions you think will be on the test and recite the answers, Create a mnemonic to remember, information ( such as please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, used for order of operations in solving an equation - Parenthesis - Exponent - Multiply - Divide - Add - Subract )
• Graphic Organizers: Graphic organizers and semantic maps ( word maps ) which offer a visual representation of ideas. When students organize and design these maps, they apply important analytical skills as they think about how ideas are interrelated. Abstract information is put into concrete and visual form which can be pictured in one's mind and more readily retrieved later.
When Studying, you can VISUALIZE You Could
• Your eyes and " picture in your mind" any chart, diagram, word, map event, time period, scene, experiment or character (from a Story) that you are trying to remember.
The Must DO's For Parents
1. Student can fail to do well if they fail to cope with stress. Parents should guide their children in planning, organizing and setting a time-table.
2. To Avoid a Stress situation for the child the parents must provide right kind of motivation and a conducive environment.
3. Helpt the child to develop self - discipline, self-direction, self - confidence and a sense of achievement.
4. just good schooling and tuition are not substitutes for emotional cushioning.
5. Help the child in maintaining his confidence especially when he seems discouraged by his dropping marks or grades. Do not displace your anxiety on the child.
6. The achievement goals should be realistically set according to the child's capability.
7. Do not mix academic issues with family conflicts.
8. praise your child when he does well. Encourage child's performance with positive statements like, "well done" " you can do better" rather than saying "that was not enough"
9. work out our child's schedule with him instead of nagging him. There could be learning problems.
10. Do Not harp on pervious failures or results
11. under achievement may be due to some children believing it is safer not to try than to try and fail.
12. if achievement expectations are too then some children would prefer to be criticized for being lazy than being considered not good enough.
13. Humour relieves tension. Be light and humorous with the child.
14. Try to gain your child's confidence and discuss his problems with him, help him to find a solution
15. exams are not the end of the world
16. accept that expectation for everyone to do well is unrealistic as many won't pursue this for long.
The 5 "A's" for Controlling the Exam Stress : Acknowledging, Appreciating, Alleviating, Altering & Avoiding.
1. Acknowledge the stress and strain because every one faces it. In everyday life, stress manifests as mental or physical tension, which you would rather not have, recognize stress as inevitable.
2. Appreciating what causes your stress. Then, instead of blaming yourself or failing of cope; you end up pinpointing the real problem and tackling that.
3. Alleviating : the pressures is all about resorting to simple stress-busting techniques. Perhaps you have a calming visual to look at when you need a mental escape from your surrounding. Or you may relax your muscle before you go to sleep.
4. Altering : your lifestyle is the next step towards Exam Stress. Once you've seen the benefits of relaxation, it will encourage you to develop more permanent ways of reducing stress. If stress continues to be persistent, either you haven't tried the major stress alleviating formulae or alternately your haven't kept them up long enough to deliver the needed result.
5. Avoiding : last step is the toughest but also the most beneficial. You have to start avoiding stress building habits and burnouts. Avoid smoking - a serious stress builder exercise briefly but regularly, make an effort to maintaining a normal weight, eat regular balanced meals and get adequate sleep.
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON EXAMS
How do I deal with exam related stress?
Recognize your negative thoughts. Once you closely examine these thoughts you'll see how unrealistic they are. Challenge the thoughts that say you are a failure and that you can't succeed. Remind yourself that it was just another exam and with effort, you will do better in your next attempt.
What if I do badly?
Replace self-criticism with self - correction. Judging yourself harshly now won't help you do better in the future. Take the position of an observer. What if a good friend told you he had failed? Would you call him a failure ? most probably you would emphasize his good points and help him put the situation in perspective.
How do I deal with my family's disappointment if my result is not good ?
Be open and honest with them. Share what you feel about the result and what you think went wrong. Reassure them of your concern and efforts. Above all, do not have a negative bias against your parents because some times they need more reassuring than you do.
What if I don't get the marks I'm expecting?
Concentrate on your achievements and be realistic about your expectations as well. Usually we know when we have made a mistake, so take these into account while drawing up expected marks. If you are still dissatisfied with the results, the option of rechecking is always open.
We have heard of irregularities in the assessment system. What if my marks are adversely affected?
Have faith in the system. There will always be rumours about unfair checking, but one cannot ignore the fact that results over all these years have more often than not, been fair.
I think there is too much pressure can't cope with it.
Take professional help. If you feel that there is pressure and you are unable to handle it and your self-esteem is coming down and you are unable to cope, then you must consult a psychiatrist to help you tide over this phase.
Everyone tells me to concentrate on my studies.
Don't stop enjoying life. One of the common mistake an individual makes is to totally changes his lifestyle. This is under the assumption that if he isolates himself from all leisure and fun times with friends and family and only study, then he will do better.
How much sleep is required?
The human body requires an average of 8 hours of sleep per day but there is no hard and fast rule. Each one of us has to understand our body rhythm and know by trial and error how many hours of sleep keeps us fit.
What happens if we sleep less than what our body requires?
If you sleep less for a day or two your body copes up by taking more sleep over next two days. If continued for long then the body gets into what is known as sleep debt. Then you get symptoms of feeling tired and sleepy, headaches, body aches, poor digestion, inability to concentrate, irritability, short temperedness etc.
Should I study in the morning or at night?
First understand whether you are an owl or a lark. IF you can get up early in the morning and feel fresh then you must sleep early and get up early and study. If on the other hand you can study later at night but cannot feel fresh when you get up early to study then you must sleep late after studying and get up later in the morning.
How to get good night sleep?
Try to keep a fixed time every night for sleeping as far as possible Avoid afternoon prolonged sleeping, a short nap may be helpful. One hour before bedtime avoid stimulating your sensory system by too much noise like loud music, too much TV, arguments or fights. Three hours before sleep time avoid taking any food or liquids, which contain caffeine, like aerated cold drinks, drinks containing chocolate.
To keep awake for studying students drink lots of coffee. What is the harm?
Caffeine in small doses acts as a stimulant and keeps you awake, so a cup once a day may be OK, Excessive coffee drinking gives side effects like tremors, fast pulse rate, irritability and stomach pain. Coffee also causes addiction.
Why exercise during exam time?
Most children will say they have no time for exercise during exam days. They are already stressed out with lack, oftime how can they waste time in exercise? The fact is that exercise is all the more necessary during exam time because not only is it a " stress buster" but also has many other health benefits needed to keep fit during exam.
What are the various forms of exercise ?
Aerobic exercise running, jogging, swimming and specific aerobic exercises like strength training, lifting weights and working on machines. Resistance or strength training increase lean body mass which includes muscles, these in turn burn more energy daily as compared to fat mass, more muscles means more strength and Add helps to tone muscles and improve endurance. It reduces risk of osteoporosis so makes our bones very strong. Exercise increases co-ordination and reduces risk of injuries resulting from weak muscles.
How does exercise help ?
Regular aerobic exercise ( Swimming, bicycling, jogging ) improves the function of our cardiovascular system. This makes the circulation better, the lungs process oxygen more effectively so you have less exertion. Heart pumps blood with fewer heart beats ( the athletes pulse is always slow) it stimulates the growth of capillaries that increase blood supply hence better oxygenations to muscles. All this makes your body more efficient and give your more endurance capacity giving you more stamina for working so that you can sit longer hours without discomfort. This will make you study harder and better.
How does exercise help you be better mentally?
Regular aerobic exercise releases some good chemicals in our body. These are called endorphins. These make you feel happy. They counter the effect of streets, depression and anxiety that all students suffer from during exam time. So after exercising you get a "Natural kick " which is longer lasting and safe unlike drugs or stimulants like caffeine. It also helps you in weight loss and that will make you feel good about your self.
Diet During exams:
Diet is very important during teenage years, improper diet will lead to poor growth and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
What happens If you miss breakfast?
If you miss breakfast them by the time you have lunch nearly 10+12 hours have gone by after your last meal. This means your blood sugar level has gone and you have nothing to provide your body with energy. This low blood sugar or hypoglycemia causes short term memory problems, difficulty in concentration problem solving.
DO NOT MISS LUCNH if you do so your blood sugar level will again dip down and you will have all symptoms of hypoglycemia and will not be able to perform after lunch hours. You will be also be very fatigued by the time you come home and will not be able to study in the evening.
DO NOT HAVE A VERY HEAVY DINNER
You will feel very heavy and sleepy and will not be able to study well.
*Excerpted from : Exam Stress; by child development and Adolescent Health Center VIMHANS
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