World Mental Health Day: Students share need to de-stress, experts suggest ways
The Union Ministry of Education has issued guidelines for reopening of schools from October 15. However, the final decision has been left on state governments, to decide when to reopen these. With no confirmation about the dates, school students, as well as their parents, have been undergoing a lot of stress. On World Mental Health Day, October 10, we speak to students to know about their state of mind, and ask experts how can they stay calm.
Ojasv Goyal, a Delhi-based class 12 student, says, “Though I’ve been taking online classes that are conducted regularly, but I feel tire at the end of day my parents observe me 24X7. And they keep on pin pointing me to sit straight, pay attention to what the teacher is saying, and all other stuff. I can understand their concern but it’s too much sometimes. I miss that freedom I had in school. My teachers are way more cooler that my parents! It’s really stressful to match their expectations, take tuitions and classes online, and be at peace. I couldn’t even clear competitive exams with flying colours, and feel stressed about my future!”
Some are trying to participate in other activities to distract themselves. “I’m in class 12, and wanted to enjoy the last year of my school to its fullest. Everyone says school life is the best, but I’ve missed the most crucial year of this phase of my student life due to the pandemic. There is so much uncertainty right now, and I’m clueless about my future and career prospects. I’ve been talking to a lot of consultants, but there is no one who could give me a satisfactory answer. In such a scenario, stress is bound to takeover, and I’m also trying to distract myself but it hardly works,” says Mridula Sharma, another Delhi-based school student.
Experts feel that among the many reasons, constant scrutiny by parents, teachers and inquisitive relatives as well as comparisons is one of the causes that leads to stress among youngsters. “Critics have time and again pointed out that our education system tends to judge widely different students on single line parameters, which is unfair. Some students tend to experience episodes of stress, anxiety and sleeplessness and even nervous breakdowns. This condition is compounded by constant scrutiny, and comparisons with peers,” says Prakriti Poddar, a mental health expert , adding, “It’s also important for parents to not impose the burden of unreasonable expectations on their children. This stress response raises our heart rate and breathing and increases muscle tension, among other things. It’s important, therefore, to learn healthy ways to respond to this elevated stress. Several decades back, Dr Herbert Benson, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School advocated a phenomenon called a relaxation response to counter the stress response in the body. Breathing exercises, mindfulness and meditation are a few techniques that can help invoke a relaxation response from the students dealing with stress.”
According to psychologist Dr Roma Kumar, school and college students need to acknowledge and process their feelings of emotional distress and express them. She says, “Use whatever technology you have available to virtually meet up with your extended family and friends, but at the same time put a limit on how long you will spend on social media every day. Use your psychological defence like humour, which will protect you from emotional overload and will enhance your well-being. Practice good sleep hygiene. You can schedule relaxing activities such as doing puzzles, eating your favourite food, spending time with nature, listening music, exercise, playing with your pet, dancing and any activity that will distribute your physical and mental energy toward self-care and things that are under your control. When you shift your energies from exasperation to rationalisation, it will help you maintain your connection with what’s happening, positivity, and will also reduce the emotional burden.”
Author tweets @ruchikagarg271