Feb 252014

Stress of exams

It’s exam time again, and the cases of students pushing themselves to the brink for better results are rising. While giving an exam can be a very stressful period for the student as well as their family, there are a few things you can do to make the process much smoother.

1. Sleep:

Recent research has found that sleeping could be the most crucial thing you can do before your exam. Sleeping is a voluntary action governed by the VLPO (ventrolateral preoptic nucleus) centre of the brain. This centre helps the brain and body fall asleep. When the brain is active, this centre is suppressed, but once the brain is over worked, it requires rest to recuperate from all the learning. So give your brain a little rest and watch it perform to the best of its ability the next morning.

2. Relex

Right before the exam is when most students become very nervous. Try this just before your exam – sit at your desk and close your eyes, take in a few deep breaths and exhale from your mouth. Before you open your eyes, rub your palms together to make them warm and place them on your eyes, then slowly open them. You will feel much more relaxed and focused.

3. Revise:

Revision is probably most important when it comes to retaining all the facts you learn. When we learn, the human brain tends to compartmentalize the information. As we learn new things the information gets stored in different sections. Therefore while we study for multiple subjects during the preparatory period, it is important to refresh the information we require for the next day. Make a schedule to revise and if possible, set aside an entire day to revise.

4. Eat Healthy:

It is a common practice during the exams, to cut down on the food you eat. To some students it would seem like a waste of time and some are just too nervous to eat. Dieticians suggest that a healthy and nutritious diet is very important during the preparatory as well as the exam period because the right foods can help you learn better. Food is like fuel for your body and brain. When we eat, the body breaks down the food into its components. One of the most important foods for the brain is glucose. It helps in maintaining proper transmission of signals between synapses (space between the neurons of the brain). A lack of food causes the brain to be sluggish and stressed. On the day of the exam, eat well before you step out. An empty and growling stomach is only going to make you more uneasy and tired.

5. Get some exercise:

When we exercise, the body releases an opioid peptide (protein) called endorphin also known as the ‘happy hormone’. This hormone makes the body relax and reduces stress. It also helps oxygenate the brain and body better and thus rejuvenates the entire system. All you need is to set aside 30 minutes to go for a brisk walk and practice some deep breathing at home.

6. Stay hydrated

The human body is made of 70% water and is required in all bodily functions. While giving an exam, it is important to stay hydrated so that your body functions optimally. Water helps to keep the skin moisturized and supple, it helps the brain brain function and allows the body to react better to stress. Remember to carry a bottle of water, or maybe something natural like nimbu juice to your exam centre.

7. Don’t get stressed

When a person gets stressed the body stimulates the nervous, endocrine and immune system. It also increases adrenaline levels, which in turn causes all systems in the body to work on overdrive. Over an extended period of time this can have a bad effect on the body. Stress also causes a person to overlook important details, and we all know how devastating missing a question or reading it wrong can be. Therefore, in order to avoid making silly mistakes, don’t stress out and don’t panic.

8. Don’t overdo coffee or energy drinks:

Caffeine is a stimulant which affects the central nervous system (CNS), the cardiac muscle (increases heart rate), and respiratory system. It relaxes the air passages and permits improved breathing, and helps muscles contract more easily. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic (increases the rate of excretion of urine from the body) and delays fatigue (wards off drowsiness and restoring alertness). Therefore during exams, it is best to avoid having too many cups of coffee or energy drinks because while you might stay awake longer, you will not be able to assimilate as much. Too much caffeine in the system can also lead to heart palpitations and aggravate panic attacks.

9. Avoid eating junk food:

Food at a restaurant or pani puri from your favorite road side stall, may be enticing, but stay away from these treats during your exams. Food made unhygienically can cause a variety of conditions right from a simple upset tummy to severe food poisoning. And this isn’t going to help your performance. The best advice would be to stick to home cooked meals or food made from a trusted source.

10. Exams are not the end of the world:

Exams or their results are not defining factors in your life, in the long run your degree will not define who you are. So don’t fret over your marks, or worry if your scores will be the highest in your class, instead concentrate on gaining knowledge, and the rest will take care of itself.

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