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Follow a healthy study routine to combat stress

In the first of a two-part series on dealing with exam stress, we look at the ­importance of time management, leading a healthy lifestyle and establishing ground rules while studying.

education Updated: Jan 30, 2014 13:49 IST
Jitendra Nagpal
Jitendra Nagpal
Hindustan Times
exam stress,board exams,how to handle exam stress

Stress is the wear and tear we experience as we make adjustments to our continuously changing environment. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action; it can result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings which in turn can lead to health problems.

Some of the stress indicators are lack of sleep, mood swings, indigestion, abdominal cramps, neck ache and backache. With the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship, we experience stress as we readjust our lives. While adjusting to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it.

Anything that makes you tense, angry, frustrated or unhappy can cause stress. It may be thinking about next week’s driving test or a visit from a difficult relative, the choices you have to make when moving house or getting married, an accident or injury, the seemingly unrelenting pressures of work or the unavoidable burden of coping with a death in the family.

Exam-related stress is now common among school students. You can, however, offset this stress by making a few simple but important lifestyle changes including intake of healthy food, good sleep, regular exercise and communication with loved ones.

A balanced diet is crucial, especially during stressful periods like examinations. The golden rule is to increase intake of greens, fruits salads and pulses and keep a check on oils, spices and salts. Adequate sleep is must for rejuvenation of the mind. Plan at least six to seven hours of uninterrupted sleep to enhance concentration. Minimum structured physical activity spanning 15-20 minutes of brisk walk, jogging, swimming or an outdoor game is not only refreshing but it can also lift your spirits.

As a component of effective study habits, realistic time management is of paramount importance during the exam season. Individuals have their own ways of managing time. Some of these tips may come in handy.

Schedule your study timing
Creating an overly restrictive schedule which doesn’t work, is a common mistake committed by students. At the end of it, you feel guilty about not sticking to the schedule. Have a regular study time and make space for some fun too, as this will help you get back into study-mode. Make a list of what you have to do in order of importance. Schedule the important work that needs more attention first.

Plan your breaks
Don’t study longer than 50 to 60 minutes at a stretch. Take periodic breaks and do things you love, such as listening to music, reading a magazine, chatting with your family or grabbing a quick healthy snack.

Set targets and reward yourself
Setting milestones for revision certainly help to manage your time and task better. You can also set rewards for those milestones for yourself. The reward can be small, like treating yourself to some ice cream, or larger, like buying that new dress you’ve had your eyes on. Rewards also don’t have to cost money. For example, you can gift yourself a game of basketball with your friends.

Get interested and avoid nervousness
You cannot concentrate on studies if you feel disinterested in what you are reading and if there is something in your mind that is worrying you. Remember that your final revision should only involve scanning your notes, key messages and bullet points. Try to loosen yourself up by sharing it with family and friends. You are relaxed when you are at peace with yourself. And most often, this state of mind is related to your level of preparedness. So fix up a relaxed schedule for yourself and avoid last-minute stress.

Establish ground rules
Make it clear to people who matter — your friends, relatives and family members — that you are not to be disturbed during the planned study hours. If you feel that your mind is occupied by various thoughts while studying, you can write whatever comes to your mind before you actually sit down to study. This will help clear your mind of the thoughts and increase your concentration level. You may tear off the page after you have released these thoughts.

First Published: Jan 30, 2014 13:45 IST