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How to beat exam stress
Kanchan Maslekar
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February 12, 2007

Examinations are a time of anxiety and nervousness -- not only for the students but also the parents.

To increase productivity and take the exams well, it is also necessary -- besides studying hard -- to focus on eating habits, sleep patterns, mental and physical fitness.

Here are some tips -- for parents as well as students -- to beat the examination blues.

Eat right

A balanced diet is important, especially during examinations. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide children reserves of energy and increase their ability to concentrate.

"With a healthy diet of vegetables, fibre and fruits, your mind stays alert. If you have heavy junk food like pizzas and burgers, it slows down," says Gargi Sathe, a Pune-based dietician.

"Spicy and salty food just prior to the exams can lead to a lot of sluggishness during the exams. Green, leafy vegetables, fruits, salads and pulses should be encouraged during examinations," she adds.

She underlines the importance of home-cooked meals -- Dal, rice, Roti, a vegetable (alternate between a green, leafy vegetable and sprouts), salads, and a seasonal fruit.

"Many a time, children munch on chips, wafers, etc during studies to beat boredom; instead, eat walnuts, nuts, or fruits," she says.

Avoid excess tea, coffee and chocolates. "Though they stimulate you temporarily, they will get you tired," says Sathe.

"Have a small meal prior to the exam; it will help you to be more wakeful during the exam. A heavy meal will make you sluggish," she adds.

Take care of the eyes

Exam time means a lot of reading, writing, stress and strain. Make sure not to overexert or strain the eyes.

"Make sure there is ample light in the room where the child is studying. Reading with a night lamp is a strict no-no," says Dr Aniruddha Joshi, an eye surgeon.

Use a table and a chair to study and write, Dr Joshi says. "Leaning on the table or reading in the sleeping position for a long time will strain your eyes." 

Rest your eyes after half an hour of continuous reading; blinking helps. Avoid rubbing the eyes. Splash cold water instead.

Sleep is important

"Do not compromise on sleep," asserts homeopath Dr Reena Dhaware. She advises strongly against staying awake all night to study. She also advises not to hit the bed immediately after studies; a few minutes are needed to get out of the 'books mode.'

A short walk, a glass of water or just glancing through magazines before going off to sleep will help de-stress.

Get outdoors

"Students must have at least 15 minutes of outdoor activity even during exams," says Dr Dhaware. "It helps them exercise and relax their muscles."

No bans, please

This one is for parents: Don't ban extracurricular activities for your child. A short stroll in the garden, brief play time (can be a board game too) or some television will help de-stress.

Don't get obsessed

Talk about things other than examination. This will have a relaxing effect. Share some jokes, some interesting anecdotes of the day to lighten up the atmosphere at home.

Calming techniques

Practise deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation exercises as part of your daily routine and encourage the child to use them during the examinations.

Be neat and tidy

Give a thought to your clothes, not just while going for the exam, but also during studying. Remember, neat and tidy clothes help lift spirits.


Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine. You could try watching Tom And Jerry for a while. It will help you relax.

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