Students appearing for secondary school examinations at their exam centre in Hyderabad on March 12, 2014. Image Source: IANS

Students appearing for secondary school examinations at their exam centre in Hyderabad on March 12, 2014.

The time of the year has come again when the board exams are about to start and most students are in a mad scurry with their books and are jam-packed again. With the dates fast approaching, the anxiety has started creeping into the minds of children. 

There is definitely a way  to cope with the pressure of examinations and do well without exhausting yourself. Many researchers and doctors believe that  it is important to understand what stress is, how it occurs, and follow the right diet and exercise. 

The main concern among the parents and teachers is that children don't eat properly and their children tax themselves both physically and mentally. However, many researchers believe that stress is not about every day life hassles. Instead, these are routine things that all of us manage to deal with.

They consider stress to be related to worry. During exam season, the children begin to panic and that panic creates tension in their mind, which later develop into stress. 

Identifying stress 

So what shall be done to identify stress and ensure that our children are relieved from this behaviour? Parents can identify this easily and  help their children,who are under stress. The most immediate way is to find out when their child behaviour changes drastically, and when the child's immune system becomes weaker.

No wonder,stress bring downs the capacity of the immune system, and children become more prone to far more colds, fevers, and coughs than they usually did in the past. 

However, there are other possible short term factors and short term effects, that are much trickier to catch. 

Demotivation plays a major role and can become one of the most obviously visible side effects, that may lead to feeling disinterest in whatever one does, along with symptoms of short-term memory loss. Children suffer a lot when they encounter short term memory loss that even affects their results; when they are unable to remember what they read only yesterday,and they may remember it much later. 

Pressure and Stress - A Link?

Is there any difference between pressure and stress or are they the same? While a reasonable amount of pressure is good, the problem happens when it goes overboard to create stress. Parents and teachers should check the behaviour whether a child is being pressurised too much and anything is making the child feel extremely stressful. 

However, the flip side is that even too little pressure also creates stress. 

The researchers from the Darwin University found that people have a feeling of not being adequately challenged on a day-to-day basis. This can be a problem too as an inadequate amount of challenge and pressure in such people can create boredom, and boredom makes you feel stressed out too.

So what's behind stress? 

A lot we may say. Stress is more or less related to overall thinking patterns and tendencies of worrying, than it has with mere body reflexes. Parents need to ensure that children do not worry much and their children must be taught anti-worrying techniques that help them to stop doing so. 

Besides patterns of thinking, a lot also depends on belief systems, their overall self-esteem and confidence, and their mental, physical and emotional health that can create stress internally. 

On the other hand, stress situations can be caused and triggered by parents, teachers, peers, or by people in the child's immediate environment. Apart from these external factors, children feel stressed out by the enormous expectations that have been created by others, or sometimes, which they have created for themselves.

Stress also is a result of  certain events that worry us, events that we fear we have no control over. And the most common one of these is the fear of examinations. 

Eliminating stress 

It is important to create a positive atmosphere for the kids, at home, in schools or the playground. A monitoring about what they utter and the language they use, for instance,rather than saying 'I cannot do something', it helps to say that 'I am trying to do it.  

Never expose children to televison or horror movies before bed time as doing so activates the mind, and such things should not encouraged at night before sleeping. 

Parents and teachers should give a helping hand to such kids to ensure that the pressure levels are maintained in a balance, so that they are not too high, and neither too low. Some research based tips for parents and children that can help combat pressure. 

1. Always praise and celebrate your child's success. Ensure to appreciate what the child is doing in order to improve, and make sure you encourage it. 

2. An encouragement by parents goes a long way in helping the child to build their confidence; encouraging when they are learning and living in different ways. One process of trying different ways of learning is mind mapping. Understand your children's learning technique as some children find it easier to learn through visual mediums, whereas for others, it might work to record information on an mp3 and then listen to it -- even while they are sleeping. Encourage these different methods that can be effective for different children, and if a child is trying to do this on their own, encourage it. These methods of innovative learning can be applied to any situation, and is a sign of creativity.

3. Never get into any unnecessary conflicts. Always try to negotiate with the child's needs, instead of continuously nagging and giving suggestions of what you think is right. As parents it is important to find a way to deal with things in such a way that the child also feels he has got what he wants, and so do you. Look for a win-win situation. 

4. It is important to encourage regular breaks. Ensure your child gets a break from work or studies. Remember, you may be adding extra stress and understand that it is  difficult to concentrate without breaks. 

5. Involve in fun activities in the right proportion. Activities may include surfing online, using facebook, twitter, social networking, reading, watching movies, and enjoying entertainment. Encourage anything that refreshes the child's mind. 

6. If your child is interested in any sport, encourage it. Playing a sport will keep the mind and body healthy. Encourage the sport, even though it is not an official sport, and neither does it need to be a competitive game. Any sport that interests your child will help to destress. 

7. Ensure some good sleep. Avoid to keep the television set in the child's room as it can be distracting at night. The parents should ensure that the child does not watch something mind-activating like a horror flick at night. Having relaxing things around at night before bed time reduces fears and anxieties.

8. Yoga and meditation. Doing exercises  balance out the body's energies, and can help calm down the child's senses. 

9. Try simple exercises. You can even do the exercise with them to get them involved. One simple exercise is to stretch both arms ahead with fingers locked and intertwined within each other. Touch your left palm to your right knee by bending and hoisting the knee simultaneously. Immediately and in quick succession, touch your right palm to your left knee by bending and hoisting the knee simultaneously again. Keep repeating this process for a couple of minutes.

How to be healthy during exam time? 

Parents and teachers have always voiced their concern about the poor eating habits of children, and some mentioned children fainting during school hours. It should be ensured that children are fed properly, both during school lunch hours as well as at home in the evenings. 

Parents should monitor the lunch menu,and the  parents should understand the importance of nutritional values . 

Tips to break out of harmful stress patterns: 

1. Exercise: Take a jog, run, or swim once a day. Doing so can improve blood circulation and charges you up. 

2. Consume more fresh fruits and vegetables. Light and heat destroy many proteins in fruits. It is advisable to eat them fresh, and not keep them stored or preserved for too long. 

3. Try to avoid eating rice as it can make you feel sleepy. It has carbohydrates that secrete serotonin in your brain, and this can make you drowsy. 

4. Consume  foods that release sugar and energy into your brain slowly, and in a sustained manner. For this, you must have complex carbohydrates, and not simple carbohydrates. 

Eat fibre-rich food like green leafy vegetables and fruits, which are made of the essential complex carbohydrates. Avoid foods like bread and pasta, which are made of simple carbohydrates. They release energy and blood sugar too fast and too instantly in your body, and lead to a drastic drop in your energy levels. 

5. Any food rich in fats. They are found in Omega3fatty acids, which in turn are found in fish and in flaxseeds. Vegetarians can have walnuts or almonds instead. 

6. Give your children a balanced intake of proteins, vitamin, and fat. You must not have too much of these, or too little of these either. Over-consumption of proteins, fats, or vitamins spill over to your adipose tissue making you put on excessive weight, whereas taking a very small intake can slow your brain down. 

7. Yoga. Doing yoga is a great stress buster and activates the muscles that have been long since unused and have received no stimulation.

We all must agree that being stress free is eventually about balancing mind, body, and soul. This is possible with the help of a good diet, good sleep, and steady encouragement and it comes with great responsibility, especially from parents, tackling child's mental and physical health at the time of exams is only a few steps away.

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