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How to handle exam stress?

In this testing time for students, here’s a health package to help them do their best

health-and-fitness Updated: Mar 06, 2013 19:17 IST
Kavita Devgan
Kavita Devgan
Hindustan Times

While exam time can be the most stressful time for children, parents need to be careful about their diet and health. Their memories play games with them, their concentration and stamina tend to diminish. No one wants a stressed-out child, so here’s how to ensure that your child gets through the exams well.

Feed the brain

Food has a direct relationship with concentration, intelligence levels, memory and reaction time of your child. Fuel for thought: The brain burns fuel even while sleeping, so ensure that your child eats a substantial breakfast to prevent a mental fog. Stock up on antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and help preserve memory. Vitamins C and E deactivate free radicals and sharpen the brain. Feed your kids broccoli, papaya, strawberries, oranges and sunflower seeds, almonds and peanuts. Go fish: Serve fish twice a day as the brain uses the choline in fish to make acetylcholine, which helps enhance memory power and reasoning.


Include B vitamin rich foods (whole grains, eggs, lean meats and green leafy vegetables) in their diet to improve concentration, memory, reaction time and mental clarity.

Power up

This is when stamina is needed in big doses.

Stick to low GI:

Low glycemic index foods release energy slowly, resulting in a long lasting feeling of energy. Nuts and seeds, being low GI foods and effective fatigue busters, can be munched while studying.

Iron out kinks:

When iron levels drop, it results in fatigue, poor concentration, lack of motivation and reduced work performance. So make sure their diet includes egg yolks, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens and liver.

Five a day:

Heavy meals divert the blood supply to the digestive tract and causes fatigue. To avoid this, give your child four to six mini-meals and snacks through the day.

good fats: Saturated fats and hydrogenated fats like those found in chips and samosas, result in a decrease in effective energy production. Essential fatty acids (omega 3) and Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) on the other hand, are effective fatigue busters. So include fatty fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel), flax seeds and walnuts in the diet for omega 3. Cook meals using olive oil for MUFA.

Ration out coffee and colas:

Being loaded with caffeine, they provide less energy to the body; dehydrate the body and interfere with sleep.

Bust stress

Harish Shetty, psychiatrist, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, lists some practical skills to beat stress.


Once in a while, tell your child to close their eyes and focus on their breathing. A couple of minutes of this will help immensely.

Tune in:

Music boosts brain power as it makes listeners feel relaxed and stimulated. It produces a heightened alpha brain wave activity similar to the one found during deep relaxation and meditation.


Keep funny movies, TV serials or comics in stock to help clear their minds. Laughter increases endorphins, lowers stress hormone levels, and activates T-cells, which fight viruses.


A 10-minute walk outdoors in bright light is a good energy booster.

Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist and health writer

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