Monday, June 3, 2019

How to Deal With Exam Stress

                                                                                  Dr Rachna Khanna Singh
As is true with every game, there are certain rules to study well without getting stressed. Certain methods, ways and techniques to study better and also practice relaxation. When one plays the game of study with these rules, it becomes beautifully simplified and extremely easy. And that’s what you, as a mother, need to teach your child.
There are many challenging situations that one comes across and to tackle them effectively can be quite daunting but nevertheless, we will try to bring solutions to challenging situations that are mostly experienced by mothers and children

Problem 1: The child is either sleeping too less or too much, or eating too less or too much.
Reason: the child’s sleep and appetite may have been disturbed due to high stress levels.
Solution: DO NOT FORCE HIM TO SLEEP ‘N’ EAT …HE TOO WANTS TO Try to understand what is causing the stress, talk about his fears and apprehensions . Make him feel understood. Provide adequate support to him. Try to establish consistent sleep and meal times. The child should be encouraged to indulge in some physical activities and relaxation exercises like deep breathing or recreational activities.

Problem2: The child usually spend hours cramming the night before and complain that he is not able to complete his syllabus.
Reason: Here, the child maybe suffering from high anxiety and also, mental block due to inefficient ways of studying pattern.
Solution: Here, memory enhancement in the form of PQ4R is recommended. A study conducted by Swashrit society on 5000 students from public schools in Delhi and NCR have shown a definite improvement in recall abilties..
The PQ4R method is to P:Preview (the summary) the chapter,Q: question (what you have learned?),R:re- read, R:reflect,R: recite, R:review .Mnemonics may be used. Mnemonics are the triggers of memories.. These include use of the below to remember better:
  • images •           colours
  • structures •           sounds
  • smells             •           tastes
  • touch •           positions
  • emotions •           language
Problem 3: Complains of not being able to concentrate on studies.

Reason:  Here, the child maybe suffering from high anxiety, stress and mental fatigue which may prevent him from focussing on his studies.
Solution: Help your child to practice deep breathing exercises\ meditations twice a day for 10-15 mints. Auto suggestion is also an effective exercise which instils positive thoughts and mental frame of mind. This is done by repeating to one self positive and encouraging statements. This is a relaxation self-therapy which should help the child attain a mental relaxation free from worries and stress. Here, it is important that your child gets enough breaks in between his studies to prevent him/her from having a mental saturation or fatigue.
Some tips:
  • Set aside a place for study and for study only!
  • Choose a specific place
  • Always study at that specific place
  • Study area should be conducive to studying
  • Avoid certain things in the study area like tele. , t.v. etc.

Problem 4: Your child has become very moody and irritable.
Reason: This may be due to hormonal changes during puberty ,or an inability to deal or cope with the pressure of studies and the hassles of growing up. It is also a period of high insecurity with regards to his capacity and goal.
Solution: As a parent ,try to be more tolerant of his mood swings .Also make your child understand these mood swings may be due to physiological changes in the body   Don’t be too quick in your reaction (negative reaction eg. anger out-burts) towards his hostility due to his mood swing.Teach him appropriate ways of managing his emotions like open communication , sharing his state of mind with peers ‘n’ parents , appropriate anger management techniques etc.

Problem 5: Your child seems to be putting in all his efforts and yet not being able to perform well.

Reason: Too much of performance anxiety  is overstraining his mental capacity.

  • Help your child stay active! Maintaining a good balance between intellectual and physical activity is a good way of dealing with stressful situation. Staying active will allows the body to find its normal level of tension. Swashrit Society , a NGO started Get Active, a lifestyle enhancement program in the schools across India and after working with over a 100schools found physical exercise as one of the best ways to improve performance (Reasearch : 2005 , N= 1,00,000 students )
  • Eat well! Do not try to perform on an empty stomach and avoid junk food. Fresh fruits and vegetables are recommended to reduce the stress level.
  • Breaks in between his studying are essential to motivate and enhance his productivite the child.
Problem 6:  Your child makes excuses for avoiding school.

Reason: Your child maybe avoiding the situation as this may cause him to feel too anxious or tensed.

Solution: Try to understand his reasons for acting the way he/she is acting. Then try to address his anxiety and fears.They may be personal or academic reasons or both.  Help him to express and share his worries through life or self example and also talk to his teachers and peer about his problem and find solution through their help.
Problem 7: Your child often complains of getting lost in the details of reading and have trouble identifying the main ideas!

Reason:High level of distractability and monotony is the prime reason.

  • Here it is important for the parent to explain to the child the Essentials of READING that include
  • Recitation: saying out loud and running a finger along the lines , while one is reading and memorizing,
(you may initiate sitting with him while he reads to encourage him and occasionally read out to him also )
  • Writing: taking notes as they go through the notes ,
  • Visualization at the end of reading such that he remembers the location of what he read
  • Questioning your child to reinforce his reading and recall:

Problem 8: your child seems to be thorough with his/her preparation and yet fails to perform in the exams.
Reason: Exam anxiety is at its highest.
Solution: Help your child to practice the following cues so as to boost his performance.
  Help your child to learn deep breathing in neutral situations such that he starts his exam by deep breathing and normalises his anxiety…
Encourage him to strategise by the foll. rules :
  • Make yourself comfortable ,Your task is to do best you can now
  • Take your time to read through all the questions and instructions carefully
  • Pick out the questions that relate well to your revisions
  • Plan your answers Do your best to ignore everyone else while planning
  • Manage your time, estimate the time needed to answer each questions or each sections of your exam.
  • Answer questions in a strategic order by answering the easiest questions before going on to the difficult ones. This will have an effect of building the level of confidence.
  • To answer essay type questions, prepare a broad outline of the important ideas and the order in which one wants to present them before writing the answers.
  • If your panic gets worse ; put down your pen and relax \deep breathe.
  • If you feel unwell , ask the invigilator if you may leave the room for a short while.

Problem 9: Your child is having problem with time management with regards to his study.

Solution: Prioritize the work \ studies according to the table below:
Urgent and important\
Q1Urgent but not important
Q2Not urgent but important
Q4Neither urgent nor important

It is the aim of this time management grid to help us maintain an optimal level stress by helping us to prioritize the studies \work . A daily record is to be made for effective productivity.
Encourage making daily ,short term and long term goals with adequate reinforcements at the comp[letion of these goals

Problem 10: Your child, sometimes, suffer from dizziness, fatigue, nausea, fast and shallow breathing…
Reason: this maybe due to the child’s habit of being cooped up in his room for too long with out having time relax.
Solution: Here, it is important to explain to your child the importance of physical exercise, going for walks in the morning or evening, as this helps to refresh the mind
With the increase in suicides and depression among students , the crippling effect of academic stress is now making waves in the life of students. While bags are getting heavier and the syllabi slightly tougher the maximum amount of pressure is felt right before exams or at the time of approaching of exam results. This results in major lifestyle changes such as smoking , disturbed sleep , taking medication and increased intake of caffeine.

Hence it is time that we sit down with our children and tell him that it’s not really as tough as it seems. Enjoying academics is not unattainable , it’s just a bit  challenging. We easily say life is a game so in that case why should studies be any different , it is a game too and just like every other game there are certain rules to study. There are certain ways and techniques to study better. Only when one plays the game of studies according to the rules and techniques does studying become beautifully simplified and extremely easy and to our astonishment we find ourselves being one the the ‘envied scholars’.Not every one of us is a born book worm or one who enjoys studying but it is something that can be inculcated in a child if the right approach is taught to him or simply the right technique.. Learning should be made fun and we’re going to elucidate some ways of how exactly that can be done