Print

To view the larger PDF version - click here

stressing over exams1

stressing over exams2

stressing over exams3

The World Health Organisation reports that South Africa has the eighth highest suicide rate in the world making it the third-greatest cause of unnatural death in SA. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reported that suicide rates among teens aged jCj-j4 have nearly doubled in the last l5 years tress is a natural bodily response to an external stimulus that evokes a sense of threat to us, our bodies become alert, our muscles tense, our breathing becomes more rapid, and our heart rate increases. There are many different triggers for stress - starting a newjob or school, moving, relationships, etc. GOODAND BAD STRESS Many students feel stressed at exam time, there is good stress, the kind that makes you get out of bed that one hour earlier and study, stay concentrated, and motivated, _ it will energise and prepare you for activities to come. ts, Then there is bad stress, when you begin to feel overly anxious, struggle to concentrate, switch from task to task without getting much done. f In times of bad stress, people feel exceptionally anxious, which may include difficultly with sleeping and eating (over- or under-eating), concentration difficulties, tearfulness, or sensitivity to emotions (some people may express high levels of irritability), feeling on the edge, feeling restless or fidgety. Some students may experience stress in more depressive like symptoms: . Feel very tired a lot of the time . Have difficulty Concentrating . Low self-esteem . Feel like they won't be able to do well in exams etc. In worst cases such as the morning of the exam or in the exam, the stress may culminate into a stronger sense of panic. . Dizziness or feeling detached from your body . Shortness of breath, difficulty breaking . Heart palpitations, or feeling your heart beat very fast . Chest discomfort . Feeling hot and sweaty . Nausea or upset stomach Continued on next page... EDUCATION WHAT ROLE DO SUPPLEMENTS, FOOD, SLEEP, AND EXERCISE PLAY IN EXAM STRESS? Sleep, food and exercise are very important. Whilst you sleep your brain will begin to consolidate and process the information you have learnt throughout the day, it is therefore very important to give your brain this time to consolidate and rest. Very often students try to cram as much as they can into the evening study session, jump straight into bed and then lie awake for a while and struggle to fall asleep. Rather, they should end the study session an hour before sleep time, taking a bath or shower, or doing something relaxing (listen to music, page through a magazine, or surf online) before going to sleep. This adequately prepares the body to rest after being actively tense during studying. Food: It's important to maintain a well-balanced diet before and during exams: . Don't skip breakfast . Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol . If necessary take a multivitamin to give your body that extra boost . On the morning of the exam have a good breakfast and (if allowed) take some small snacks into the exam, e.g. jelly babies Exercise: Students should try keeping active in some way, even if it's just a walk around the garden or block. This will shift their focus, give their body a stretch and relax the muscles, which may feel tense from studying. A change in pace from sitting all day releases positive hormones, and reduces anxiety. It's important to have fun ....... .. - if exercise isn't their forte they could try dancing. Any type of bodily movement is positive as it takes the mind off the process of studying. Continued on next page... It's important to maintain a well-balanced diet before and during exams EDUCATION HOW TO AVOID EXAM STRESS . Have a structured study schedule that doesn't leave subjects or sections rushed at the end. . Allow for breaks throughout your study schedules, short breaks where you can go and walk outside for a few minutes, and at least one longer break where you can go and have lunch or relax for an hour or so . Eat well, you need food to have energy to study . Do some exercise to keep your body active . Make a list of two people you can ask for help with every subject you're writing for so you now you have supportive resources . Divide your work into manageable chunks so you feel you have accomplished sections as you WHATSUPPORTSTRUCTURES EXIST TO ASSIST PUPILS AND STUDENTS? . School counsellors ensure they don't become completely t work each day overwhelmed and left feeling hopeless i.' . Set goals for the day - make sete they are or helpless. realistic (E.g. Cover one section of biology and . Teachers . School mentors or buddy systems . Extra lessons if necessary . Students shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. Teachers want them to do well, so it is beneficial to see them before exams if there are any sections they're stuck with. . SADAG . Akeso emergency line: O86 143 5787 . Akeso Psychiatric clinics for inpatient adolescent treatment WHEN SHOULD COUNSELLING COME INTO THE PICTURE? one section of history that day) Reward yourself when you've had a good study day (E.g. rest in the evening or have coffee with a friend) Try get eight hours sleep Keep perspective - don't let exams completely t people, should be avoided the morning take over your life, try schedule in some fun . See a psychologist or go for counselling When a customer is worried about activities during breaks such as talking to friends, to help cope with the stress of exam their child or a student is worried listening to music, reading, painting, TV games, season and keep things in perspective. about themselves because the stress doing hobbies that you normally do. You won't Yes exams are stressful, they aim symptoms are starting to resemble be able to do them as often or for as long as to test students more than just panic attack symptoms or depressive usual, but don't get rid of them completely. academically, but the stress they bring symptoms, they should ask for help from To avoid severe exam stress you need to have needs to be held in perspective to a mental health professional. a balanced lifestyle. . Remind yourself that millions of students feel the same way you do, and millions more have Students shouldn't be afraid to ask .... gotten through this process...and you willtoo .... for help. Teachers want them to do well i...' T.. TIPS WHEN PRACTICALLY SITTING DOWN TO WRITE THE EXAM The morning of the exam students that positive self-talk significantly reduces then panic, rather read them through should make sure they set more than anxiety. If possible, it is beneficial to view slowly. Don't be afraid to ask the invigilators one alarm so as not to oversleep and the exam room beforehand. Seeing the a question, if you don't understand then rush or panic. They can calmly go hall the day before the exam and spending something in the exam, ASK! There may be through any sections in need of one last a minute visualising writing the exam will a question you don't feel you know as well, review before proceeding with their usual make you feel more comfortable and leave this question until the end. Start with routine, of getting dressed and having familiar on the day. the sections you feel most confident about. breakfast. Any friends who are panic When sitting down for the exam After each section sit back, stretch and take control your breathing (breathe in, count a few deep breathes and continue. before the exam; it's counterproductive to three, breathe out, count to three, After the exam, try to avoid over to be surrounded by people who are repeat a few times) and continue to analysing your answers and comparing stressing about sections or telling you remind yourself that you can do this. them excessively to others. Whilst general they feel unprepared, or worse, asking if When the exam starts, write down any post exam conversations usually debrief you covered the exact same sections they notes or formula on the spare paper the paper, don't get too drawn in to trying did. Remain calm, have your stationary so that you have that with you laid to check each answer you submitted with prepared (perhaps organise your stationary out for when you need it later. others. Rather, spend some time relaxing the night before). Focus on encouraging Read the questions carefully. Often at and recharging, doing your favourite hobby thoughts like I can do this! Research shows first we dart through the questions and and then get ready for the next exam. (3 I..' C) Pharmacy Magazine OCTOBER 2015 I 33