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Exams are not the end of the world

With March round the corner, school as well as college students are gearing up for the final exams. It is the time of the year when food, sleep, and recreation take a back seat. Sleepless nights and frayed nerves are common during this time. It is not just students but concerned parents too who feel the pressure. It’s important however not to let it spiral out of control. NT KURIOCITY spoke with some experts in the field including students and parents, to find ways to alleviate exam stress

Maria Fernandes | NT KURIOCITY

All students are wary of exams. Stress levels start increasing as soon as exams begin to loom large over their heads. The closer the exams get; especially final exams; the more their heartbeat quickens and higher the level of anxiety. “In my home with three children, March is definitely a stressful month because of final exams. Even though my children work hard throughout the year, exams mean, they have to work harder to get maximum marks. There may be notes they have to get or some doubts they have to clear, whatever it is, there is a lot to do and very little time to do it and this leads to stress,” says Vaishali  Sawant, a parent.

During this time, school and college counsellors, psychologists and even psychiatrists, report a rise in students battling with exam related problems, which include sleeplessness, loss of appetite, headaches and forgetfulness. “Exam phobias are very common among students. Hence during this time the number of students who approach us is higher as compared to the rest of the year. Most complain about being unable to sleep as well as loss of appetite,” says psychologist Godeliva Rodrigues-Gomes. She also mentions other related symptoms like difficulty waking up in the morning, constant tiredness, unexplained aches and pains, loss of interest in activities, increased anxiety and irritability, blurred vision, and dizziness.

True, exams do cause stress and are a necessary evil but they definitely are not the end of the world. With a little planning and care the stress can be reduced. “I know that exams are important and are needed to assess us. A little stress is good to keep us on our toes and motivate us to study but exams can make stress levels get out of hand, which can stop us from performing to the best of our ability. So it’s important to address it and get it back under control,” says Rutika Pradhan, a standard 12 student.

To cope with stress, students come up with unique methods that not just work for them but also de-stress them. From doodling to singing while memorising, these methods they say, really work for them. ”If I feel tense, I read comics, especially Archie. At other times I paint; nothing precise, just dab my brush in different colours and put it on paper haphazardly,” says Aarti Amonkar, a SYBCom student. Ayaz Shah watches TV to forget his stress. “When I feel I can’t study anymore and am completely bogged down, I watch TV for a couple of hours. It may not work for others but for me it is a stress-buster and I feel refreshed,” he says.

“I colour code important passages in the textbook to make memorising easy and this helps break the tension. But what helps boosting my confidence the most, is pasting the syllabus in my study room and striking out the portions that I have completed. It also gives me a lot of satisfaction and relief,” says Prabhav Naik, a final year student.

It is important to learn to recognise when you’re stressing out. A break or a chat with someone who knows the pressure you’re under and who will be supportive can help get things into perspective.

Yoga and meditation are time tested methods that work to relieve stress. “Both my parents practice yoga and meditation. I too have been doing so since the last few years but not regularly. During exams, however, I meditate whenever I feel drained. I also picture myself acing the exam and that helps me a lot,” says Rajesh Shetty an MBA student.

“Surya namaskar and breathing exercises are great ways to reduce stress. Breathe deeply not just from your chest but from your abdomen and then let it out very slowly. This will get more oxygen into your system and help you relax. It will also help you to keep calm and balanced, improve your concentration levels and help you to sleep better,” says Maya Raju a yoga instructor.

Doctors recommend eating healthy, getting a minimum of six hours of sleep, and taking part in outdoor games to reduce exam stress. “During this time students are at home studying so they invariably eat a lot of junk food and with little or no exercise it adds to their weight, making them lethargic and unable to concentrate or study well,” says general physician, Amod Borkar.

Time management during this period is of prime importance. Burning the midnight oil and cramming everything doesn’t usually work. Anagha Patil, a teacher advises studying right from the beginning of the year and adds, “If you haven’t done it, start by making a realistic plan that will work for you. Do not study for long stretches of time as it gets mentally exhausting, instead take regular breaks. Study so you understand the material and not just memorise it. Also study in a place where you can concentrate without distraction.”

Comparing your abilities with your friend, a mistake that most make is a common reason for unwanted stress. Those “Oh my God, I’ve not even finished one revision,” or “I’m going to fail for sure as I have only revised three times” conversations are such a waste of time. Everyone approaches revision in different ways, so just make sure you’ve chosen the method that works best for you. Tejas Kakodkar who appeared for his standard 12 exams last year recommends, making a realistic timetable and sticking to it as far as possible. “There were times during my board exam when I did not finish what I had planned but it was not the end of the world. I realised I had to complete it and would do so the following day,” he adds.

It’s great to succeed and reach for the stars, but keeping things in balance is imperative. “There are some students and even parents who believe anything below 90 per cent is bad. They push themselves and their children towards goals that are sometimes unrealistic. This leads to undue pressure and loads of problems. Students and parents have to remember that none of us can be perfect all the time,” says Rodrigues-Gomes.

Exam time is an ordeal for many, but with some smart planning and the above given pointers, one can bypass the anxiety altogether. Ultimately, don’t lose sight of the fact that there is life after exams. Things might seem intense right now, but it won’t last forever.

Learning Haiku

Robert Witmer who recently published a book on the Japanese poetry Haikus titled ‘Finding A Way’ will be conducting a certificate course where he will guide participants in writing Haikus and other poetry from February 22, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. onwards  at Parvatibai Chowgule College, Margao. Details: 2722215/ egn000@chowgules.ac.in/ writingcentre@chowgules.ac.in.

Nutrition talk

‘Diet for Diabetes’, a nutrition talk by senior consultant at Diet Dr Clinic Stephanie Gomes will be held on February 22, 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The International Centre Goa, Dona Paula.

Cake classes

Cake baking classes by cake bites in Margao will be held on February 22 and 23. Details: 9881344964.

Geometry based math

A workshop on geometry based mathematics learning (3-D simplified way to remove abstractness in mathematics) is arranged by CCR for students, teaching faculties and professionals on February 23 and 24 in Panaji. Details: 9422438821.

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