For many students, exam-time is that dreaded reality which has the ability to send them into complete and utter panic.
Excessive anxiety can trigger or arise from a sense of insecurity. In a competitive environment, exam results can take on a scary image for students, where everything might seem to be pinned onto those grades - their future career path, self-worth and identity.
So it is important not to brush off or trivialise young people’s reactions and instead, encourage them to find ways of dealing with the anxiety.
Here are some tips by Dr Sameer Malhotra, Head, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, to improve your mental well-being for a stress-free and happy examination time:
1. Recognise that anxiety is an emotional response to stress/perceived stress.
2. Get adequate sleep: Studying throughout the day and night without proper sleep can take a toll on your body, resulting in dizziness, dullness and irritability. A restful sleep helps the brain to function well and increase your focus. Sleep for at least 6 to 7 hours every day to stay energized and boost your immune system. You can listen to light music so that your thoughts are calm as you drift into sleep.
3. Start your day with a healthy breakfast: Breakfast will give you the extra energy to be more productive while working.
4. Give yourself room to focus: Take a minute to sit, breathe and mentally prepare yourself for the work you are going to do. A bit of planning can help you tackle a lot.
5. Take a break: Instead of studying till you’re tired, taking small breaks throughout the day, will help you keep a clear and calm head. Going outside for a walk can be refreshing, enabling you to study for longer.
6. Maintain distance from your phone and social media: Understand that they are a distraction. Instead of having your phone propped up next to your notes, try turning it off, or at least putting it on airplane mode.
7. While studying, be honest with yourself: Set realistic targets when you are preparing for your exams. Plan a realistic revision timetable and map it against your most productive hours for best results. Don’t psyche yourself into the amount of revision you ought to be doing, but focus on taking small steps to concentrate and complete the task at hand.
8. Body and mind are intertwined. Stress symptoms should be timely recognized and appropriately managed.
- Cognitive symptoms viz. worrying, apprehensions, pessimistic thoughts, impatience, feeling as if losing control over self or the situation.
- Somatic /bodily symptoms like palpitations, feeling breathless, tremors, butterfly sensation in the stomach, sweaty palms, emotional symptoms like feeling nervous.
When it comes to mental health, a culture of stigma often prevents sufferers from voicing their distress and seeking the necessary support.
As adults, we must learn to lean on the benefit of hindsight when dealing with young students. Parents and teachers should be aware that students express themselves in different ways.
They should avoid being critical or condescending and instead have an encouraging and open stance when interacting with them.