“I don’t want to disappoint my Parents. They are expecting 90% plus from me in 12th boards since I scored 10 CGPA in 10th. Even my classmates call me ‘Pseudo-topper’. I feel helpless at times. I don’t know what to do. I won’t be able to cope up with exam stress.”
Recently, a student approached me with the issue of Exam Stress. The question of the hour is---Is it the pressure of cut-throat competition in academics or parents’ higher expectations from their kids to excel in studies a leading cause of exam stress among students??
The reason can be either of the two or both; however the fact is no student is left unperturbed with Exam stress. What exactly is exam stress?? Let’s understand what Stress is, first.
The feeling of being “under pressure”, tension, anxiety, nervousness … are the words generally used by individuals to express their state of stress. As per Psychology, Stress is an adaptive bodily response of an individual to certain events (Exams), objects or incidences which affect his/her mental equilibrium.
Stress is of two types: negative stress is called Distress and positive stress is called Eustress, which feels like “butterflies in stomach” one gets while on a roller-coaster ride. Eustress enhances performance of an individual, motivates him/her to do better than the previous time and boosts his/her morale for further challenges of life.
Why exam stress is a red flag for students??... The students who suffer from exam stress do face various physical, behavioral and mental demands which may include the following:
- Lack of attention and concentration, thereby affecting the memory.
- Low self-confidence and negative self-image.
- Loss of appetite or binge eating.
- Low or zero communication.
- Insomnia or drowsiness.
- Mood swings.
- Less or negligible social interaction.
- Upset stomach or diarrhea.
- Suicidal ideation---- If not treated timely may lead to clinical Depression.
Under what circumstances does exam stress arise??... The common exam stressors include:
- Self-created pressure to score high (Sometimes more than his/her aptitude).
- Higher expectations of Parents.
- Spirit of competitiveness.
- Comparison with others (Siblings, cousins, classmates etc.).
- Fear of being left out and fear of rejection.
- Fear of being ridiculed by parents, siblings, friends, teachers, etc.
“I don’t feel stressed during exams. In fact I don’t study all the time. I make sure to take out sometime to watch TV and even go out to play for an hour during exams.” -- Another student from same class told me the other day.
Not all students experience exam stress. Why is it so? Exam Stress arises when:
- There is no structured plan for study.
- There is no structured plan for revision.
- No proper schedule for sleep and rest.
- No healthy and nutritious food habits.
- Pre-occupied with other negative emotions.
For a few individuals exam stress, if not worked upon, may prove disastrous.
Here are a few tips to curb exam stress:
- Plan your study: A proper planning can help you win over exam stress with an ease.
- Keep in mind the date of examination.
- Prepare a schedule and stick to it.
- Divide the course.
- Set short-term target(s).
- Include recreational and leisure activities too in the scheduled study plan.
- Schedule the subjects depending on your productive hours i.e. Morning, afternoon, evening, night or late night.
- As rightly said, “Discipline is the key to success.”
- Act on the study plan.
- Keep regular follow-ups with the plan.
- Review the progress.
It will be a mere waste of time if one doesn’t stick to the study plan or rather remains engrossed in unimportant tasks while studying.
- Focus and attention: One of the major issues with students is that they are not able to retain attention and concentrate for extended period of time while studying for longer duration. For them:
- Sit at the same place at the same time to study, so that your mind is tuned to the same environment.
- After every 30-35 minutes of session take 5-10 minute break just to relax your brain.
- While studying put off all the distractions like, mobile phones, TV, Internet, Video games, PSPs, tablets, etc.
- Tell your family members about your study time so that they don’t disturb/distract once you have sat to study.
- Postpone any calls from your friends, relatives, neighbors etc.
- While revising the lessons engage in Fast Reading.
- Make use of visual maps and Mnemonics to remember formulas, theorems, periodic table etc.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”----- leisure and recreational activities play a crucial role in de-stressing exam stress. Hence it is necessary to UNWIND YOURSELF during exams.
- Practice deep breathing exercises.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Stretching and walking.
- Engage yourself in Positive Self-talk and affirmative discussions (I CAN-I WILL) with others.
- Talk as much as you can with your parents, trusted ones or professionals about this state of yours.
- Visualize your success.
- Stay away from rebuttal people.
- Take the right amount of sleep and timely scheduled rest between the study time.
- Eat healthy and balanced diet.
Keep all the above mentioned points in mind and tell yourself to keep calm it’s just an exam!