Monday, July 14, 2008

Exam Anxiety/Stress Management Guidelines

The Physical approach:

(A) Eating healthy:

· Balancing food choices over time counts.
· Breakfast provides the energy needed through an active morning.
· Children who skip breakfast may have trouble concentrating.
· Fast foods supply more fat, salt & calories than good nutrition.
· Fast foods in moderation won’t ruin a healthful diet, especially when consumed with green salads.
· Replace finger chips with an apple.
· Add roughage to your diet – Dalia, Corn etc. will help prevent stomach discomfort and you will feel lighter.
· The golden rule for food safety is to keep hot foods hot & cold foods cold.
· Parents should teach good habits by example.

(B) Good Sleep

· Insomnia (the inability to fall or stay asleep) can be caused by stress & anxiety of Exam.
· Disturbances of sleep wake cycle during exams.
· If sleep struggles continue, talk them over with your doctor.

(c) Physical activity

· Exercise: planned & structured subset of leisure time physical activity undertaken for improving or maintaining physical fitness.
· Physical fitness: includes cardio-respiratory fitness, muscle strength, body composition and flexibility.
· Sport: any choice of outdoor game for a brief period. For example badminton, squash, tennis, etc.

The Psychological approach:

Stress can lead to both anxiety & depression. However, some amount of anxiety is imperative for good performance. The students may experience the following-
· Increased disinterest in studies.
· Seeing more TV, sleeping more
· Irritable/ crying / cranky
· Nervous and irritable
· Feelings of frustration and aggression
· Preoccupied, absent minded
· Symptoms like headaches, fainting spells, vomiting
· Wanting to be alone
· Major changes in eating or sleeping habits
· Lack of attention and concentration
· Forgetfulness
· Inability to complete tasks or make study plans
· Staying out longer, stop communicating with their parents and have health problems.

The tips to handle examination anxiety/stress are-
· Make realistic study plans
· Assess priorities, assets and difficulties
· Follow a normalized routine atmosphere at home should be recommended.
· To take frequent breaks.
· Not to strip off TV or entertainment and outings.
· Feel comfortable about self.
· That imagining extreme consequences and worst situations is of no use and needs to be discouraged.
· It is helpful to make the student see what he can accomplish in the remaining time is not negligible.
· Constant encouragement and reassurance is essential from all significant members in the school and family.
· It is important that the student is clear about how to take the examination, how to tackle questions and how to manage time.
· Students tend to magnify failures and try to talk to them out of it. They should not demean themselves and should manage time properly.
· Advise them to contact the teachers or counselors if they feel low or anxious or disinterested in studies.

Examination Anxiety/Stress: Common reactions

Common Physical reactions:

· Muscle tension
· Indigestion
· Sleep difficulties
· Rapid uneven or pounding heartbeat
· Frequent urge to pass urine
· Fast, shallow breathing
· Chest discomfort
· Change in appetite, constipation or diarrhea
· Change in appetite, constipation or diarrhea
· Backache/headache
· Cramps
Common Psychological reactions:

· Feeling under pressure, frustration and aggression
· Feeling tense and unable to relax
· Feeling mentally drained out
· Fussy, gloomy or suspicious, being constantly frightened or irritable
· Inability to concentrate on and to complete the task.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Some Examination Anxiety Interventions

These are some indicated interventions for exam anxiety-

1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy
2. Systematic Desensitization
3. Relaxation
4. Hypnotherapy
5. Study Skills Training

and Others

Exam Anxiety and Exam Stress

In the modern world, there is lots of pressure to perform well in the exams. This pressure stems from the very fact that the career opportunities depend on the performance in the exams and our wrongly grounded educational system adds to it. It creates stress in the students and causes anxiety. This examination anxiety is not bad in itself; up to an extent in facilitates the performance. But when it is beyond a limit, the effect becomes detrimental. If the individual's resources are not adequate to handle this pressure, his coping fails. This failure to cope results in lower academic performance and it may be fatal at times. There are reports of deliberate self-harm and suicide by students due to exam anxiety and academic stress. All this highlights the need for timely intervention in this area. The posts that follows this one will focus on the nature as well as mangement of exam anxiety.

Dherandra Kumar
Consultant Clinical Psychologist

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