As we prepare for competitive examinations like UPSC exam and entrance tests, keeping the mind calm and settled can be challenging for even the brightest bulbs in the room. For exams such as the UPSC – Exam, preparation pressure and the amount of competition can easily drive a person into a spiral of stress, anxiety, and even depression.
As we are faced with ever-rising competition among UPSC aspirants and students struggle to keep their minds in place, the stress extrapolates to the family and loved ones of these students too. We tend to stay aloof and undisturbed while studying. Our parents and family to tend to ensure we get our alone time; being alone for long can instill stressful thoughts in the mind.
It is, however, not impossible to detect symptoms of stress and onset of psychological issues. Some easy to read symptoms of exam-related stress are here:
- Worrying a lot and feeling tense all the time
- Headaches and occasional stomach pains
- Inability to sleep well at night
- Becoming irritable and loss of interest
- Appetite loss or overeating
- No enjoyment in activities one would otherwise love to do
- Feeling hopeless about the future
- Frequent hot or cold flashes.
If you find yourselves facing one or more of these symptoms, this could be an indication that a psychological problem and mental trauma due to stress is impending. Getting help from a family member or a trusted friend goes a long way in such times to help lower the mental burden. Having someone to talk to about their work can work wonders. Support from parents, tutor, or study companions and peers helps to keep things in perspective and stay focussed and positive at all times.
Apart from just speaking your mind out, there are more ways to alleviate exam stress.
Engagement With NGOs and Charities
Try to engage yourself with NGOs and charitable organizations to better understand the need for social welfare. This is an excellent way to not just take your mind off the stress of constant study, but also to subtly remind you of the real reason UPSC exists; to make the world a little better place than it already is.
Ensuring a Balanced Diet with Regular Exercise
A balanced diet is vital for everyone’s health. Good food becomes especially important during the exam period to maintain health. High-fat, high-sugar and high-caffeine items do more harm than good. Too much of any of these make a person hyperactive, irritable, and even moody at times. Proper meals at regular intervals, coupled with minor exercise goes a long way in keeping the mind stable. As they say, “A healthy mind resides in a healthy body.”
Proper Rest is Necessary
If there is a secret to a good mood, it is good to sleep. Good sleep improves thinking and concentration. A typical sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. 4-5 cycles i.e. 6 to 7:30 hours of sleep is usually enough to help the brain relax properly and prepare for the upcoming day with vigor. Avoid any engaging activities, such as study, TV, games etc. about half an hour before sleeping. This helps the body get in sleep mode.
Also, cramming all night before an exam is usually a bad idea. It has been established by multiple surveys and doctors that a well-rested mind is far more likely to perform well in an exam as compared to a mind that has been awake all night. Have adequate sleep the night before your exam.
Be flexible during exams
Be flexible around exam time. When you are revising all day, do not worry about household jobs left undone or untidy bedrooms. It is okay to leave a few chores hanging around while you’re dedicating yourself to prepare. Not that this means you get to goof around all day in the name of studying. Also, exams do not last forever. You can always finish off pending tasks right after the exam.
One of the most underrated self-therapies is meditation. Using mindful meditation techniques to cope with anxiety have historically shown superb results. It is at times difficult to focus when faced with dire situations. Mediation helps you keep your calm and make the right decisions.
It is Normal to Feel Anxious
Always remember it is okay to be scared a bit. Nervousness is a natural reaction to exams. The key is to put these nerves into positive use. For example, you can practice papers under exam-like conditions or even going once to see the exam hall beforehand. Facing one’s fears and seeing these activities through, rather than avoiding them, takes off a lot of stress.
Make Time for Treats
Reward yourself for completing revision and getting through each exam. Rewards do not need to be big or expensive. They can include simple things like making their favorite meal or watching TV. When the exams are over, celebrate by organizing an end-of-exams treat for you and your family.
Know When to Get Help
Some people feel much better when exams are over, but that is not the case for all folks. A tell-tale sign when you need help is when a person’s mood is low even after the exams are over. Anxiety or low mood when severe, persists, and interferes with everyday life. Seeing a psychiatrist is a good place to start. Always remember going to a psychiatrist doesn’t mean you have gone mad and need to go to a mental hospital.
In a Nutshell
UPSC examinations are one of the most competitive tests in the country, demanding immense preparation and brains. This tends to take a toll on the mental health of quite a few students. Taking the right steps, finding the root of underlying issues, taking precautions, having a balanced schedule with exercise and a balanced diet helps one stay calm and not get bogged down by pressure. After all, this is just an exam.
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Keywords: Exam Stress, UPSC, Exam tension, Tips for Aspirants, UPSC preparation strategy, Mental Health and Exams