We all know that exams can bring stress and anxiety for many children and young people. Often this stress and anxiety can impact significantly on the ability to eat, sleep, relax and achieve.
The following 7 steps may be helpful:
Keep meal times regular, skipping meals will not help maintain energy or concentration levels. Breakfast should be the main meal of the day consisting of oats which are an excellent source of slow-energy release and eggs which are full of protein and a nutrient called choline which is linked to increased cognitive performance and boosting memory focus. For lunch select foods with a low glycemic index and his will help you avoid hunger and get you through to your final evening meal. This meal should contain omega 3 which is an essential fatty acid with many physical and mental health benefits. It is specifically related to improved brain function. Oily fish, chia and flaxseed are excellent sources of omega 3.
Hydration never takes a day off! Water is essential for regulating the chemicals in our bodies and for maintaining optimal brain functioning. Dehydration can cause lethargy and headaches which decrease performance levels. If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated! Drinking regular amounts of water will keep you alert and on top of your game! Health experts recommend 1.2 litters a day. Energy drinks and high sugar foods should be avoided as they can create an energy rush followed by a crash resulting in fatigue.
Snacking. Sometimes we just feel the need to snack it maybe that we are feeling a bit peckish or just need it for a little motivational boost! Snack foods that can add some benefit to our mental agility include those high in vitamin C such as oranges and blueberries. It is also suggested that sources of Vitamin E and Zinc also aid brain function so opt for sunflower and pumpkin seeds, nuts and dark chocolate.
Sleep is essential for achieving optimal performance. Lack of sleep will negatively impact on energy levels, mood and performance. Plan for sleep in your revision timetable and aim to go to sleep at the same time each evening. Having a regular sleep pattern helps to maintain our body clock. Thus, having a regular pattern supports our ability to drift to sleep and wake up more easily at the expected or desired time. If you need a little help try some warm milk or herbal teas which are known for their natural sedative effects. Lavender is also known to induce sleep, a few drops of lavender oil on a tissue tucked under your pillow may be all you need to get a good night’s sleep. You should aim to keep your working and sleeping areas separate, when you walk into your bedroom you should feel like you are entering the relaxation zone!
Relax! Remember to incorporate lots of breaks into your study timetable. Ensuring that you have time to stop, pause (breathe) and feel a sense of calm between periods of study has been linked to increased work productivity and decreased feelings of stress and anxiety. Although enjoyable your time to relax should not include social media networking as this can increase stress and reduce your ability to focus. Instead try to have some real-time interactions with close family and friends and top up on some calming oxytocin and serotonin!
Physical exercise can also help you to relax and is a great alternative to jumping online! 30 minutes exercise 4 times a week has been linked to reduced levels of anxiety and stress. In addition to physical exercise, mindfulness based breathing exercises can also reduce anxiety and boost wellbeing.
Parents, teachers and carers play a huge part in supporting and preparing children for exams and this significant role can have an impact on their physical and mental Wellbeing. If you are a parent, teacher or carer why not follow these steps too and remember to – give your best you need to be at your best!