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Busting the Exam Blues

The month of March heralds spring in several parts of the world, while the temperature scales begin their steady ascend in tropical hinterlands//. But March is infamous for a strange 'fever', characterized by sweaty palms and sleepless nights, that grips several homes, especially those of school- and college–going children. Yes, it is that time of the year for exams, when adolescent competence, along with parental senility, is put to test.

Examinations have all along been associated with stress. But the modern mantra of 'make or break' has multiplied the tension several- fold, leading to suicide among youngsters who are conditioned to believe that exams are the reason for man's existence on earth. The teens, who already have trouble coping with their surging hormones, find that their pre- and post- exam trauma is something that is 'more than they can chew'.

At overwhelming proportions, stress may display several symptoms such as, palpitations, excessive sweating, anxiety, loss of appetite, poor sleep, indigestion, poor memory and depression, besides several others. A certain level of stress is an essential ingredient for success. It is inbuilt into our body's warning system, as the adrenalin cruising through us keeps us vigilant, and alerts us to threatening situations.

However it is important to maintain stress at optimum levels to maximize our performance. Controlling panic and maintaining a 'level' head will take a person a very long way. Here are certain tips to 'catch the bull by its horn' and to make those grades good and glowing:

Treat yourself kindly

? Make sure you study in a calm, distraction-free environment

? Do not stay in your study all day, without a break

? Alternate your study time with time for relaxation

? Study continuously for two hours only
? Take a 10-15 min break before you study again. This will help to absorb what has been studied

? Periodically review the items that you have studied

? Group study may not be suitable to all

? Confirm all exam details well in advance

? Avoid procrastination, causing unnecessary delay

? Do things that you can handle; Otherwise say 'no'

? Identify your peak study time

? Learn to relax when you are unable to concentrate

Learn to Relax

? In between study times go for a walk, to stretch your muscles and to get a whiff of fresh air

? Do not stack all the entertainments for post-exam days. Watch a rib- tickling movie or a comic show and enjoy the goodness of laughter

? Listen to some soothing music to calm your nerves

? Engage in a conversation with a friend

? Adopt a relaxation technique like deep breathing, yoga,

meditation or a gentle massage to reduce your anxiety

? Herbal tea, especially chamomile tea, with two drops of lemon and a dash of honey may also help to relax

Stay busy

? When not studying, ensure that you remain busy

? Do a bit of gardening or walk among your plants, observing them

? Drawing or painting a picture may also be engaging

? Cook a simple meal for yourself and your family

Motivate your Self

? It is very important for a student to adopt methods of self-motivation

? Always entertain only positive thoughts

? Visualize a successful future

? Indulge in positive self-talk. Talk out loudly to yourself.

? Write out things that you find stressful. Also write down your ideas to deal with them

'Exam'ine your Food

It is a well-known fact that a stressful situation depletes a person of essential commodities like vitamins and minerals. Extra care must be taken to ensure that students, who are preparing for exams, eat a balanced diet inorder to cope with the overall pressure

? Avoid Caffeine, alcohol and junk food

? Avoid oily or spicy food

? Eat meals fortified with high levels of protein, vitamins and carbohydrate

? Include fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits and salads in your meal

? Take plenty of fluids, like juices and soups

? Drink lots of water

Sleep Well

Exam times are sleep less times. But sleep is an 'essential', as it helps the body to rejuvenate, to recuperate and to handle stress better. It is vital to understand the importance of good sleep and to maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Some tips that would help to invite sound slumber are:

? Take a relaxing shower before 'sleep hour'

? Drink a glass of warm milk

? Listen to soft music

? Prepare your 'sleep space' in a way that is conducive to sleep

Seek Help

If students finds exam- related stress beyond their scope to handle, it is important for them to seek professional help from a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a school / university counselor. It would also be prudent to discuss your doubts and fears with your teachers, as they may be in a position to guide you, through valuable tips.

To Conclude

There are no quick fixes or instant stress- busters to handle exam blues. Students must learn to develop a positive attitude towards life, and condition themselves to look at failure as a stepping-stone to success, an d not to sacrifice their lives at exam's alter. The student community is the wealth of the world. Therefore parents, teachers, and counselors alike, must come together to remove their fears, free them from doubts and to instill love for academics in them.

History is replete with the track record of many distinguished lives with a poor academic status. There are records of several more with good academic tracks, but who go through life without tasting 'success'. It would do well for the future citizens of the world to remember that success and failure are relative, and that exams are but a tiny drop in the vast ocean of life.

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