It’s that time of the year when students are generally under extreme pressure — it’s time to give it your all for the exams. While some sail through these stressful periods, others find them difficult to handle, and often suffer from anxiety and lack of concentration. We suggest a few tips that can help students stay calm and focused.
To ensure proper nutrition, eat well-balanced meals. Munch on healthier foods for a steady supply of energy. Your brain uses a lot more glucose during exams, so eat at frequent intervals. Instead of relying on wafers and junk, bank on healthy options such as puffed cereals, whole grain khakaras, etc. Also, include milk, eggs, paneer, cheese, curd, sprouts and fish in your meals.
Take time off to recharge. Go for a run or do some physical exercise. Do some stretches, play an outdoor sport or go for a walk for half an hour. When sitting for long durations, walk around for proper blood circulation. If your lower back feels strained, do a standing back bend with your hands on your hips. You can also listen to music to de-stress. However, avoid prolonged breaks.
Adequate water intake is a must during exams. Consume at least 1 to 1.5 litre of water every day. This will keep your body hydrated, and will help flush out the toxins that the body produces due to stress. Avoid drinking too much coffee. Even though it helps you stay up all night, too much caffeine will add to your stress level. Restrict yourself to one cup per day, in case if you want to have it. In fact, green tea is a source of L-Theanine, a chemical that helps relieve stress and improve concentration.
Fruits contain fructose, which provide instant energy. Eating a couple of bananas before leaving for your exam will give you a steady supply of energy.
Certain foods such as almonds, walnuts, oats and sesame seeds are loaded with magnesium, the calming mineral. They help keep anxiety at bay. Also, dark chocolate calms the nerves by regulating the levels of stress hormones. It stabilises metabolism. A spoonful of honey provides compounds that reduce inflammation in the brain that helps in fighting depression and anxiety.
Inadequate sleep can give you ‘thought block’ in the examination hall. Sleep is essential to recover from the day’s tiredness and regain the ability to concentrate. A myth that’s prevalent among students is that by sacrificing their sleep, they can spend more time for quality study. Students consume coffee and aerated drinks to not feel sleepy. As a consequence, heavy dosage of caffeine makes them more anxious, and they become jittery. This edginess will affect their concentration and performance in examinations. Students should sleep for at least six to eight hours, particularly on the nights prior to exams.
Don’t skip meals
“Eat before an exam. Do not go into the exam hall on an empty stomach because your blood sugar levels may drop, which may make you hypoglycaemic, and increase your anxiety levels,” says Dr Kersi Chavda, a consultant in psychiatric medicine, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Khar (W). Whether it’s the anxiety of an exam or the fear of feeling sleepy, many students tend to skip meals. Don’t do that. By doing so, you deprive your body of the energy it requires. Eat right foods and small, frequent meals. Do not opt for foods containing refined flour or too much sugar or salt.
Revise till the last moment if you like, but do it on your own. Discussing what you have studied and what not with others before the exam might increase your stress.
Never think negative. This is a common problem in students even before they start writing the paper. As a result, often students get stressed and forget the answer. So, stay positive while writing an exam and trust what you’ve studied. This will keep your mind unclogged while writing the exam.
With inputs from Indrayani Pawar, dietician, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical; Dr Riddhesh Jani, celebrity nutritionist, Sketch Clinic; Dr Anil Patil, psychologist; Dr Ashit Sheth, psychiatrist, Cumballa Hill Hospital and Heart Institute; Dr Nupur Krishnan, clinical nutritionist