Exam stress? Experts share how to cope with it and improve performance

Mar 8:The board exams started on March 5, for both Classes X and XII, which means scores of students and parents around the country are in a constant state of tension and stress. And that's actually pretty normal. However, the trouble starts when the exam anxiety and nerves become overwhelming for students. Not only can it lead to a bad performance during exams, but can also have an adverse effect on the mental health of the student and, in extreme cases, suicide has also been reported.
Dr Mrinmay Das, senior consultant, behavioural sciences, Jaypee Hospital, Noida, describes stress as, "The body's way of responding to any kind of threat or demand - be it real or imaginary. When one feels stressed, then the nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouses the body for emergency action."
Here is some basic information that we should know about exam stress, so that it can be tackled effectively.
Why are you experiencing exam stress?
* You often need to learn and recall a large amount of syllabus
* Exams always have an element of uncertainty about them
* The social pressure and high expectations of family and friends can be burdensome.
What are the symptoms of being under stress?
* Physical Signs: Increased heart rate, shallow breathing, muscle tension, excess perspiration, heart palpitations, stomach churning, headaches, dry mouth, nausea, light-headedness, insomnia/nightmares, change in eating patterns.
Behavioural Signs: Procrastination, restlessness, wanting an escape, avoiding the company of others, substance abuse, high-risk and self-destructive behaviour.
* Emotional Signs: Wanting to cry/laugh, feeling hysteria, anger, helplessness, fear, disappointment, depression, irritability, frustration.
* Cognitive Signs: Negative/self-critical thinking, confusion, poor concentration and memory, racing thoughts, going blank, difficulties with problem-solving.
How to cope with the exam stress?
Dr Sandeep Vohra, senior consultant, psychiatrist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, lists out some tips.
* Plan out a revision time-table according to the time.
* Get adequate sleep for 6-8 hours, especially the day before the exam, else it might lead to you muddling up whatever it so that you/your do know.
* Talking about stress and sharing worries can also help ease the pressure. This process of catharsis provides relief from strong or repressed emotions.
* Adequate nutrition also helps with staying energetic and retaining more of the subject. Avoid oily and spicy food. and instead, opt for juices and green vegetables.
Can stress that's left undealt with have lasting effects?

Stress left undealt with during exams can cause performance anxiety, increase the negativity and even result in clinical anxiety and depression in the future. Dr Vohra advises that if the parents feel that the child cannot cope up, then they should get professional help.
How can the family and friends help?

* Parents can create a supportive environment such that the child is not distracted or disturbed.
* The child should not be discouraged and should be given a positive environment.
* Parents should avoid comparing their child with other achievers they know.
* Verbalising the expression of unconditional love and support will also encourage the child.
Source: Agencies



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