Take the test, but rest a bit
According to Dharwad-based education expert Vinayak Joshi, parents need to play an important role ahead of their children’s examinations.

This is the time of the year when anxiety and stress levels tend to shoot up among students facing board examinations and their parents. But one needs to be prepared to deal with it, say experts.

Understandable, especially for the students of 10th standard who are facing a board exam for the first time in their lives. And it’s a big thing for them. People from various quarters -- be it family, friends or even peer groups -- impress the young minds about how “big” the exam is and how it is imperative “to do well”, saying they face a bleak future otherwise.

It impresses the minds of students who are on the verge of setting out into the big world. While they should do so with positivity, many, instead, are stressed out, resulting in negativity.

According to experts, stress is a natural outcome of pressure over something big ahead. And exams -- especially board exams -- are such things, made even bigger by the pressure exerted on young minds by the society.

Exam stress is a response to the pressure built up on them. However, experts say while a little bit of stress is indeed useful to keep students focussed on the exams, an excess of it can be harmful with students losing their bearings and making a mess of what they should do.

Udupi’s noted psychiatrist Dr P V Bhandary, says, “Exam-related stress occurs primarily due to three reasons -- parental pressure, self-inflicted anxiety and lack of preparations. But to tackle anxiety and stress, parents must stop comparing their children with others. Students too should stop worrying about the past and rather start concentrating on doing their best in examinations.”

He cautions that if any student shows suicidal tendencies, it is important for the parents to consult a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

“Experts can assist students in reducing anxiety levels through medication or therapy. Parents should also mentor their kids at home by making them understand that SSLC or PU-II is not the end of everything in life,” says Dr Bhandary.

According to Dharwad-based education expert Vinayak Joshi, parents need to play an important role ahead of their children’s examinations.

“Most of the time, students are influenced by their parents’ stress about exams. Well-planned study from the beginning is a must. Even if there is not much time left, parents should guide them with questions which will most probably appear in the exams. But above all, parents must ensure that students take care of their health,” he says.

Dr John Vijayasagara, professor and head of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) says, “More children undergo exam-related anxiety or stress prior to the exam, and these days, even during non-exam seasons due to academic pressure. It can show in the form of cutting down on food... becoming moody and sweaty. Stress can manifest in the form of performance anxiety where they tend to blank out during exams, cannot concentrate and experience thought block even if they are aware of the topic. Elders should not neglect any symptoms.”

According to the e-book, Managing Exam Stress by White Swan Foundation, parents must keep a close watch on their children who show symptoms of stress ahead of exams. The symptoms are categorised into physical, emotional and thought /behavioural signs. Physical symptoms include tightness in muscles, unexplained headaches, insomnia, nausea, increased heartbeat rate, lack of appetite, frequent urination and upset stomach.

Emotional signs include mood swings, worry, panic attacks, frustration, feeling discouraged and deeply sad, hopelessness and irritability. Thought and behavioural signs are fidgety, trouble in concentrating, negative self-take like ‘I won’t remember anything in the exam hall’, avoiding challenging situations and blanking out.

Experts point out that exam-related stress, although manageable, should not be taken lightly. “Thorough evaluation by professionals is required to understand exam-related stress as it could be an offshoot of some other problem.

Children with pre-existing psychiatric conditions... are likely to find it difficult to study as they face exam anxiety as well. They exhibit symptoms like tendency to wake up in the middle of the night, feeling tensed, irritable and more,” says Dr T S Chandrashekar, consultant counsellor, Spandana Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Centre.

However, counsellor, soft skill trainer and resource specialist Poornima V Kumar of Mysuru says, “Exams are no big deal. It’s like a milestone one needs to pass. It is important to get rid of things such as nervousness, anxiety, comparison, expectations and lack of confidence while facing exams. Be responsible and committed to qualitative learning.”

She advises students to drop the mental baggage of hatred for a particular subject or a teacher. “Sleep is an important tool to rest and don’t count the hours of sleep. Restfulness is important... Set your body clock by maintaining time to wake up and keep up with the check-list of scheduled study. Keep away your phone till the completion of exams. Start this a month before exams and it will help you stay stable during the exams,” she says.

Children at ease, but parents stressed

In many cases, social pressure expresses itself in the form of stress more among parents than students who are taking exams. Take the example of Bengaluru-based Kavita Rao whose son is preparing for the 10th standard state board exams.

“For us, it is like having to face the society, with cut-off percentages to get into colleges. However, he (her son) says he will study whatever he can and has told us not to expect him to get over 60-70 per cent,” she says, adding that it may be the right way to look at it as high expectations may result in disappointments later.

“He does not take stress, but meditates and also watches inspirational videos. He assures us that he will study what he can and come up in life. He does not succumb to others who tell him that an exam is a do-or-die situation. It is us (parents) who are more stressed,” she says.

For parents as well as students there is one piece of experts’ advice: If you’re experiencing exam stress, it’s important to remind yourself that this is only a small part of your life, even though it might not feel like so at the time.

Shyam Sundar of Bengalur and his daughter who will be appearing for the 10th standard board exams are ensuring that she focuses on learning and not on the marks in the exams.

“The exam is just a way to know what and how much you know. My daughter prepares her own study timetable and focuses more on the subjects she is not comfortable with. Unfortunately, pressure is created because of certain marks needed to get into colleges. But, nowadays there are several options for students post 10th and 12th,” Sundar says, adding that his daughter makes time to watch TV, relax and chat with her friends. He remarks, “creative time is needed to unwind and sleep is important for adolescents as it helps retain information from studying. The more they sleep, the better they will score!”

Unfortunately, not all parents and students are this calm and composed and extreme stress can manifest in the form of several symptoms.

Source : https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/feb/10/take-the-test-but-rest-a-bit-2101341.html

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