by The Welthi Bureau | 10 MAR 2018
Exams are on their way and it’s likely that students might experience more stress and anxiety than usual. Feeling a degree of stress and nervousness about exams is completely a normal reaction. Every person has a different level tolerance for stress and a different way of responding to it. Although exam stress can sometime cast a dark shadow in the lives of teens.
Stress, in simpler terms means, body's way of responding to any kind of threat or demand– be it real or imaginary. When one feels stressed, then the nervous sysem responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouses the body for emergency action.
Exam stress is normal and very common. You might experience it because:
You often need to learn and recall a large amount of syllabus
Exams always have an element of uncertainty about them
There is a certain kind of expectations from the students by family and friends
You may need a particular exam result to gain entry into another course or for a successful career path
Following are some of the symptoms that can help to detect stress in students:
Physical Signs: Increased heart rate, shallow breathing, muscle tension, excess perspiration, heart palpitations, stomach churning, headaches, dry mouth, nausea/upset stomach, faintness/light-headedness, feeling too hot/cold (shivers), insomnia/nightmares, fatigue, changes in appetite/eating patterns
Behavioural Signs: Procrastination, restlessness, wanting to get away, avoiding others, impatience with others (‘short fuse’), lack of self-care, substance abuse, high-risk and self-destructive behaviours
Emotional Signs: Wanting to cry/laugh, 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
Managing exam stress
Often students get the anxiety of ‘what if I fail’ or ‘what if I go blank during the exam’. To study effectively one needs to focus on the study materials. One can never concentrate on their studies while the mind is occupied with such thoughts of uncertainty. If one is experiencing exam stress, it's important to try to remind themselves that it is only a small part of their life and it won't last forever.
How to beat the exam stress:
Begin studying NOW – Procrastinating and just thinking about it won’t help you. It won’t get any easier. Just thinking about it will make you more stressed and will yield less result.
Clarify areas you need to study – Be strategic. Ask what areas you should focus on. Give more attention to those areas you are weak in.
Organise a time plan – Start when you said you’d start, stop when you said you’d stop. Follow your schedule. Take ten minutes break from studies after every hour or so.
Organise a study group – Make it social and productive. If you have any questions or concerns, discuss it among yourselves. Focus on your trouble spots and share notes on that and once you’re ready to start studying, make a schedule that takes into account the different demands of each subject.
Take a break: You may feel like you need to study for as many hours as humanly possible, but at a certain point this all-in approach becomes counterproductive. Schedule in short breaks: chat with friends, grab a coffee or go up and down a flight of stairs.
Get moving: Increasing activity level is something you can do to help relieve the stress and to feel better. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move).
Eat a healthy diet: Healthy diet can help to cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress while eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs.
Get your rest: Students often tend to study overnight. This provides them with less sleep which can accelerate stress. It’s extremely important to sleep for 6-8 hours during exam to give rest to your brain.
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