Stay Away From Stress during Examination Days

Dr K K Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India 


Exam stress can lead to depression and suicide. During exam days prescriptions for anti depressant drugs, so called happy drugs, increase amongst teenagers of 16-18 years in full time education. This figure crosses 20% in school population in the West.

The fears of failure, fear of letting down are the two most common factors leading to suicide and depression.

Also, children indulge in drugs to keep awake during exams and end up with addictions like iodex on sandwich, toothpaste, shoe polish, whitener, Vicks and anti fit drugs, cough syrups etc. This is apart from indulgence in smoking, tobacco, alcohol, tea, coffee, and superman drugs like LSD, etc. Some children go to the extent of even eating the tail of the lizards.

Anticipatory anxiety peaks before exams resulting in adverse affects on the body and mind and therefore, a sub optimal performance.


Stress not only causes palpitations and tense muscles but also reduces the ability to make decisions, act or express oneself including organization of thoughts. Stress during exams can makes it difficult to read and understand questions and even to recall terms and concepts.

A study has shown that 45 minutes of afternoon nap improves the declarative memory. Declarative memory is the memory of events learnt and understood earlier during the year. Not taking afternoon nap or the night sleep may cause the child end up with transient loss of declarative memory.

Free Writing Can Clear Mental Stress: By spending 30 minutes each day for four days to write out your innermost thoughts and feelings, one can significantly boost mental and physical health. In expressive writing therapy, students are encouraged to express whatever is on their mind, letting their hopes and fears flow out in a natural, unrestrained way. It’s akin to keeping a journal, but more focused on the things that might be bothering you or triggering stress.

Short walk can help de-addict: Just 5 to 10 minutes of walk can cut cravings for cigarettes among people trying to kick the habit, According to Dr. Adrian H. Taylor of the University of Exeter. Twelve out of fourteen studies reviewed by him found that a bout of physical activity reduced cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms compared to staying inactive. Exercise cut craving as much as chewing nicotine gum. Exercise also triples the time it takes for people to reach for their next cigarette.

Effects were seen for vigorous bouts of exercise lasting for up to 40 minutes, but even less intense 15-minute session and even five minutes of isometrics, have a significant effect. Distraction, reducing stress and boosting mood may be the reasons.

Afternoon nap: A study published in the journal Sleep, showed that a 45-minutemidday nap can help boost the ”declarative memory” which applies to standard textbook learning and knowledge. Sleep appears to help “set” these declarative memories and make them easier to recall. The other type of memory is “procedural memory,” which applies to skills and has no impact with the mid day nap.

HCFI Tips

1. Kids should not be compared: it can lead to anger or depression in the child.

2. One should unconditionally appreciate whatever the child has achieved.

3. One should avoid giving false promises for example if you come first, you will get a bike”. When that happens, “You are not yet 18 – so you can’t get a license. This time, settle for a bicycle and later we’ll get that bike”. Broken promises hurt the child.

4. Avoid anger chain, for example, the father unleashes his anger on the mother (because she does not answer back), and she takes it out on the child (because of the same reason). And the child takes it out on books or studies or younger sibling or hired help at home.

5. Do not force your expectations on the child, for example, you should only become a doctor.

6. Avoid giving the child two conflicting messages like mother asks child to study and father says – “do not force him”.

7. Make your child exercise daily, learn pranayama and meditation.

8. Provide your child with balanced and nutritious diet. Avoid overeating or long hunger periods. Restrict caffeine, give more water.

9. Ensure adequate sleep with a consistent schedule to improve concentration, memory and mood, it also reduces irritability.

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