Updated 03 November 2014

Beat exam blues

Exam time can be extremely stressful for every single member of your family. Here's how to cope.

Although studying and writing exams are your learner’s responsibilities, exam stress affect the entire family to some extent.

Tthere’s a lot you can do as a mother to assist in getting him or her - and you! –ready for the task, reducing the stress levels and preventing overload or burnout in the process. The best way do so is to ensure that your child implements the following game plan, which should go a long way in setting the scene for an easier time.

  • Take a deep breath, gently inhaling into your tummy for 4 seconds, hold for two, then release slowly through almost-closed lips for 8 seconds. This is a great way to calm down, relax and refocus, with immediate effect.
  • Get some fresh air. It’s essential to take regular breaks every hour instead of endlessly trying to study without any downtime. According to SADAG, your brain can’t concentrate for longer than 40 minutes and suggests a ten minute break every hour. Go outside, walk around the garden and grab some rays to refresh and reboot your mind.
  • Eat your way to better brain power with regular, healthy, balanced meals that include a lean protein, whole grain carbs and nutrient-dense colourful veggies, with healthy snacks in between –fresh fruit, low fat yoghurt, a few nuts with dried fruit or a cup of air-popped popcorn- to ensure that your blood glucose control remains constant which will assist in optimising concentration, says Claire Julsing Strydom, a registered dietician at Nutritional Solutions. Staying well-hydrated is essential too, but stick to plain water rather than energy drinks and caffeine which will pick you up then drop you down just as quickly. Supplementing with Vitamin B complex will also help to counteract stress.
  • Get moving –whether it’s a run or walk in the nearest park, a gym class or a bike ride, getting physical is the perfect way to reduce those stress levels and to re-energize and unwind no matter how tired or brain dead you may be. Furthermore those feel-good hormones that are released during exercise will   elevate your mood and clear that foggy mind.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation due to anxiety or stress can lead to moodiness and concentration problems, so schedule in 20 minute power naps each day and some extra shut-eye over the weekend. You should also chat to your pharmacist or healthcare practitioner about a non-habit forming, non sedating homeopathic medicine that can help relieve the symptoms of mild anxiety and sleeplessness caused by everyday stress, that can be safely used by every member of the family.

Remember that it’s important to watch your child carefully during these pressurised weeks and to contact a professional if you’re at all concerned. About one in ten 13 -19 year olds will experience some form of depression which is often exacerbated byexam stress, and the earlier treatment is sought, the more likely it will be able to be successfully managed.

Supplied press release

(Picture: group of teens studying from Shutterstock)


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