School exam times are an inevitable source of stress and tension. During this period, students are in dire need of effective techniques for managing stress, organizing their plans, and most of all their parents’ support.
“Parents play crucial role in supporting their children to overcome any tension or fear during exams time,” explains Amal Helal, professor of social psychology.
In order to reduce the pressure, “Parents should take their children out every now and then to get out of the stressful mood of studying. This helps their children to become energetic and more motivated to study,” she adds.
Helal believes that comparing children‘s academic performance with the academic performance of relatives or friends as a way of encouragement “affects the child negatively, leading to psychological imbalance and a lack of self-belief.”
As a result of tension, Helal explains that students tend to have negative thoughts which can develop into passive behaviors. Parents should encourage them to think in a positive manner in order not to fall a prey to pessimism. This includes parents being positive as well, avoiding vocalizations of underestimation of their qualifications and rather verbalizing good expectations.
Helal points out some common unhealthy behaviors usually adopted during exam time. Although students usually increase their intake of caffeinated drinks during this period to stay up all night, she advises that students keep their amounts of caffeine intake at a moderate level as it increases stress and causes high blood pressure long term.
She adds that sleeping early is a good substitute for excessive caffeine intake. Having adequate sleep at night does not only make you feel physically relaxed, but also affects your memory positively as the mind stores the information at night better than it does during day.
Helal brings up that, “Many parents push their children to quit playing sports during Thanawya Amma exams, misthinking that sport can waste their children’s time or distract them from focusing on studies,” while on the contrary, exercise is good method of distracting the mind from anxiety and nervousness.
“Physical fitness has lots of benefits,” Helal explains, “it decreases the release of stress hormones like cortisol, it increases endorphins which help in lifting your mood.”
“While cycling, dancing or swimming, you are unconsciously releasing the stress from your mind. Your brain is renewing nerve cells, which make you feel refreshed,” she adds.
Mona el-Emary, a parent, speaks about her daughter who always increases her food intake under the pressure of exams. “This makes her gain more weight; especially since she is too busy to exercise during this period. I try to give her wholesome, nourishing meals instead of sugary and fatty food and I take her for a walk sometimes, as I know it somehow eases her stress.”
“Though my son wants to attend medical school, I do not try to overburden him with studies,” Perihan Mostafa, another parent, explains. “He tries to divide his time between studying and doing some activities that he likes. For example, he likes playing the guitar and playing football. We encourage him because I believe that if he spends all his time studying without having a break, he will end up overwhelmed.”
Saif Mansour, high school student, says that the best way to maintain balance between studying and leisure time is to determine the priorities in order to achieve tasks on time. “I draw up a schedule and try to stick to it as much as I can, so I can have enough time for revising. In order to break out of the routine, I get together with friends to play playstation.”
Helal agrees with Mansour, saying, “Doing whatever you enjoy to break the cycle of boredom can really ease your stress.”