Exam stress is one of the most common problems faced by students in recent times, especially during the preparation period for an exam. This could be due to a past experience of failure, coupled with the fear of failing again. Stress, in small amounts, can be a good motivator, and bring an increase in productivity. But a long-term buildup of stress can leave you feeling overwhelmed, and unable to perform at your best. And in an academically rigorous country like ours, a long-term buildup of stress seems to have become a norm. So parents, how can you tell if your child is suffering from exam stress?
1. Losing touch with friends and the activities your child used to enjoy
One of the key signs of exam stress is the distinct loss of interest in anything that your child used to enjoy, or drifting away from friends that they used to spend a lot of time with. This is a result of the mental drain that stress leaves on your child, causing them to be too exhausted to do anything else.
2. Feeling extra cranky and low
Exam stress also affects the emotions adversely, leaving your child in a bad mood all day. Due to the overwhelming pressure and stress bearing upon them, coupled with the inability to channel or cope with the stress, your child might be feeling extra frustrated and angry.
3. Loss of appetite, overeating or comfort eating
Stress causes people to either lose appetite over worry or to eat more as a means of dealing with their stress. Take note of your child’s eating habits and see if there are any unusual changes.
4. Sleeping poorly and struggling to get out of bed
Poor sleeping habits are also an indicator of exam stress. If your child sleeps at irregular hours, wakes up periodically in the middle of the night or finds it hard to get out of bed in the morning, then they may be suffering from exam stress.
5. Difficulty getting motivated to start work
Exam stress might sap away your child’s mental tenacity, leaving them unwilling to do any more work as they lack the motivation to do so.
6. Having clammy hands or feeling butterflies in your stomach
A physical effect of exam stress may be clammy hands and butterflies in the stomach, due to the anxiety and worry brought about by the stress.
7. Having a racing heartbeat or feeling sick
Like clammy hands and butterflies in the stomach, worry and anxiety may cause even greater physical debilitation, as an extreme reaction to exam stress.
8. Feeling confused or having your mind going blank during the tests
Confusion is also caused by exam stress, perhaps as an added effect of not eating or sleeping well, and having your faculties disoriented by anxiety.
If you notice that your child exhibits some of the symptoms mentioned above, fret not because there are ways to tackle it and help your child overcome exam stress.
Tips on how to manage exam stress
Exam stress can be managed in a number of ways, and you as a parent play a very big role in helping your child to manage it.
- Helping to enforce study breaks
- Be constructive and positive
- Set realistic expectations
- Encourage good sleeping and eating habits
- Help them prepare for the exams
- Encourage them to seek help if they are having difficulties
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