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There is a certain tension in the air as the academic year comes to an end. With exams being nigh, days start seeming longer, and time just stands still. Stress during these times can act as a good motivator, but more often than not, it also takes a toll on students' mental health. The increasing pressure to perform well academically has led to many young students suffering from exam anxiety and burnout. We spoke to Dr. Suprakash Chaudhury, Professor and HOD, Dept. of Psychiatry, and Dr. D. Y. Patil, Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Pimpri, Pune to understand the signs of exam stress and ways to deal with them.
Some signs of exam stress to look out for include:
It is important to address these issues at the onset and create a safe environment for the child to express their concerns. Here are a few tips for managing exam stress
Generally, an individual can sustain attention for up to 45 minutes in one go. Hence, it is necessary to take frequent breaks in between study sessions to enhance retention. Try to apply studying techniques like the Pomodoro method which focuses on quality over quantity.
Having a routine is beneficial, but a strict timetable with little or no room for adjustments can lead to increased anxiety and stress. Try to incorporate your study sessions with more flexibility, taking into consideration buffers for rest and revisions.
After a long day of storing academic information, your brain needs adequate rest and time to reboot for the next day of preparation. Make sure to regularly get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep enhances memory consolidation.
Physical exercise of any form is a great way to get some energy back into your body. Exam preparations call for long hours of sitting at your desk with limited interactions and movement. Go for a run, try 10 minutes of skip rope, dance to a peppy song, or simply walk around amidst nature, and you will notice the difference.
What you feed yourself will decide how nourished and active your mind is. Make sure to eat healthy and nutritious food at regular intervals.
Do not forget to indulge in your favorite activities and catch up with your loved ones every once in a while to keep the stress at bay.
Easier said than done, it is also necessary to have an optimistic outlook toward exams. Try to stay calm by practicing breathing or grounding techniques daily so you do not feel overwhelmed on exam day.
It is okay to feel anxious, but you do not have to go through it alone. Have an honest conversation with your parents regarding the stress you are facing. Their encouraging words will help your mind feel at ease.
It has been long proven that music has therapeutic benefits on your mind with benefits on memory as well. Sometimes, a calming melody can feel like a breath of fresh air.
If any of the above tips do not work or you feel the symptoms are progressively worsening, consult a psychiatrist or psychologist for their advice.
Remember, the numbers on that sheet do not define your abilities. All the best!