Stress is our body’s physiological and psychological response to a situation or challenge beyond our control. Stress depletes a child of his energy, makes him forgetful, scared and puts him into low self esteem. This further de-motivates him and he becomes more stressed. It’s a vicious cycle. Stress is a big hurdle to a child’s cognitive abilities, progress and performance. It is time we taught our children to move from distress to being de-stressed. A relaxed and happy mind performs better in the exams. A stressed mind makes children forget even what they know.
Sanjay has his Board exams coming in a months time from now. He is restless, irritable and anxious. He changes places of his Study, his books and subjects of study very frequently and hardly sleeps or eats. He appears confused, is irritable and his parents are concerned about his health and decide to take him for counselling. They have taken the right decision.
Counseling at this point of time is required for both, the parents as well as for the children. Parents are counselled as to what they should do and say, so as to de-stress and empower their child. The children are counselled and empowered on how to be stress-free and relaxed while preparing for their exams and also while giving their exams.
What are the symptoms of stress? How do we know that we or our child is in stress? Some of the important symptoms of stress which can be a wake-up call for us include a lot of worry and restlessness, feeling of tension, headaches and stomach pains and not sleeping well—too much or too little sleep. They also include being irritable, loss of interest in food or eating more than normal, not enjoying activities they previously enjoyed, feeling negative and low in their mood, feeling hopeless about the future, not able to remember or retain what they study, irritable mood -getting angry over petty issues and feeling nausea or being asthmatic.
With about a month and a half left for the Board exams, students are facing a heightened sense of tension and stress now. Here are some tips which can help them tide over their stress. Having someone to talk to about their study can help. Support from a parent, tutor or study-buddy can help young people share their worries and are good stress busters. Now is the time that they should plan out their study strategy and study accordingly. Let them make a time table where they allot every subject a time slot so that they can give time to every subject over the week for revision. Give a time slot for the more complex and difficult- for-you subjects, which involve formulae and calculations preferably during the morning hours when the students are fresh and energetic. Let them allot the other subjects to the later part of the day.
However some children feel more fresh in the later part of the day. They can plan out their schedule accordingly. Since there is a month’s time left for the exams—they can figure out and complete the topics in each subject which they have not studied at all till now. They can revise the other topics systematically. A study of an hour and a break of about 10 to 15 minutes is very important. It works very well for the mind activity to work to its best ability. In the break time they can eat light, high protein small snacks or relax or chat with a friend then resume their study. Making short term goals and planning what they have to study in the next hour helps them study and retain it better and in time management. Time management is a very crucial part while they make and adhere to the time table, for their revisions. Keep at least half an hour’s time in the schedule for exercise, while you revise everyday. Exercise boosts your good hormones and your energy and mood levels. At least seven hours of continuous regular sleep in the night is a must to wake up fresh and energised. Take help from at least the last five years question papers of your Board exams.They will give you an idea of the trend and the important questions being asked or repeated.
Parents should remember to be stress-free themselves. A relaxed parent is a big asset at home and for the child. Parents are advised to do activities they love to do or keep some me-time to be stress free. Stress is contagious and automatically passes on from the parent to the child.The role of a parent is very crucial for the child’s mental and physical health now.
They should be ‘happy’ parents, appreciating and nurturing the child well, looking after his meals and providing him healthy snacks and adequate liquid drinks and moral support, love and affection. Let them help by motivating the child to revise and they can also help him to make a suitable time-table for revision. They should also ensure that there is minimum disturbance in the house and the child gets adequate sleep in the night.
The role of the teachers is also very crucial at this time. They should be ready to help the children with any difficulty they face while revising. Remember the saying –a ‘Teacher is a Parent in School’. They can boost a child’s morale or make him feel depressed, with their remarks and attitude at this crucial hour.
Let it be a normal exam time for the students by your behaviour. Let them realise that they have many more such exams to give in their life and this exam is not the end of the world for them. Tell them that life is very beautiful and this exam is just one stepping stone to a more beautiful life ahead.
(The author is a neuro psychologist and CBSE designated counsellor)
Monday, 28 January 2019 | Dr Sona Kaushal Gupta
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