Subscription Subscription
Home > Lifestyle News > Health And Fitness News > Article > A Mumbai based psychiatrist offers tips on tackling exam anxiety

A Mumbai-based psychiatrist offers tips on tackling exam anxiety

Updated on: 18 August,2021 12:25 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Anuka Roy |

After examinations were postponed in Maharashtra, child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Zirak Marker shares ways in which both students and parents can deal with the mounting stress and uncertainty

A Mumbai-based psychiatrist offers tips on tackling exam anxiety

The photo is for representational purpose only

Examinations are a cause of stress for students, parents and teachers alike. When it comes to board examinations, that stress grows considerably. Throw into the mix an uncertainty about the dates of said examinations and tensions run monumentally high. With the rise in Covid-19 cases across the country, board examinations have either been cancelled or postponed. Apart from exam delays, children have been also been trying to adapt and keep up with virtual classes since last year. spoke to Dr. Zirak Marker, child and adolescent psychiatrist and adviser at Mpower, about the profound anxiety children have been experiencing and sought tips on coping with it. 

Dr Zirak Marker

Here are edited excerpts from the interview:

With the pandemic and now the board exams being postponed in Maharashtra, children are bound to be anxious. What are your suggestions to cope with it?

We are trying to teach and inculcate two very important philosophies into students:

1) Mindfulness. This is to help children be present in the moment. It helps them stay focused on the ‘here and now’ and not keep worrying about the uncertainties of the future. Mindfulness also helps to focus on thoughts and feelings that we can control and not stress over things that we can’t. They can thus focus on working hard and studying intelligently and regularly. Time management and organisation skills also become more effective.

2) The importance of collective responsibility. We are all in this pandemic together -- all their friends, peers, classmates, teachers and family. The principal sentiment of doing this together is to keep all of us safe and protected. They’re not alone or singled out in this. This helps the stress to reduce considerably. Also keep assuring them that they’ve not lost out on time or months or opportunities. The setbacks will be made up for all students concerned.  

What are your tips for parents/guardians and teachers? How can they help the child?

Make every small thing feel special. Let them express their feelings and listen to what they have to say freely.  Engage with them with appropriate eye contact, body language and tone of voice so that it’s true quality of time that you spend with them. Don’t discount their emotions or make them feel that their feelings are not a priority. Teach them to reflect on gratitude and practice the same on a daily basis. 

Celebrate everything — special days, birthdays, small wins, achievements or festivals. Normalise the environment at home as much as possible. Avoid discussing the woes of COVID. Balance their lives at home with their studies and online education; and your personal life and work from home. 
Take ample breaks from screen time and the virtual world. Create family times and ensure meals are eaten together no matter what.  Eat healthy, exercise and hydrate yourselves amply.

Ensure creativity and humour in all that you do. Try and add game value to most activities with them at home. Take this amazing time that we have with them and talk to them about mental health, resilience, empathy and other important life skills to enhance their emotional intelligence. Be effective role models in all ways possible, as they’re watching you far more than ever before. 

For a child having trouble concentrating or focusing on studies due to the constant uncertainty in the air, what would you suggest? Also, how can parents ensure a healthy balance between screen time and no-screen time?

Take frequent breaks. Walking below your building or on terrace is an important activity to try and do daily.  Do fun, simple exercises at home and ensure cardio-vascular stimulation. This increases the flow of blood to the brain which can enhance focus and concentration whilst studies. Eat foods high in omega 3 fatty acid (salmon fish, flaxseeds or chia seeds, white oats, walnuts etc.) to help with attention and memory. 

Create a conductive work environment—a work zone or station with a study table at home—and allow all work or studies to happen from there only. The rest of the home should be a study free zone. Using head phones can also help enhance concentration during online classes. Ensure limited time on high intensity gaming and excessive screen time. Many kids are getting addicted to gaming and social media. This can worsen attention, focus and concentration levels. 

Supervising your child’s online studies will ensure discipline in their work. Ensure there is no misuse of multiple devices or cell phones during school hours. Give very clear timings and schedules for online activities, gaming, chatting or television. Sometimes, planning family movies together through the week can help prevent individuals from getting lost on their devices.

Has the pandemic and lockdown increased anxiety in children?

Yes. Children and teenagers are manifesting symptoms of regular worrying, insecurities, nervousness and anxiousness, negative thoughts or stress which do not allow them to function at school work or studies.  

They are feeling low, down and miserable for no rational reason whatsoever, where getting out of bed each morning is difficult. Some don’t even get in for a shower or maintain hygiene. Children and especially teenagers are feeling alone and socially isolated. There is also peer pressure to engage with online gaming as they fear of losing or missing out on bonds and friendships. Some children are displaying symptoms of repetitive, intrusive and obsessive dark thoughts that cannot be controlled. Fears over hygiene, cleanliness, ritual hand washing, sanitisation and bathing. 

Owing to high expectations of a fast paced life, stress at work or family conflicts- we are all in some measure going through emotional and psychological upheaval. There is such a dearth of awareness and knowledge regarding these hidden symptoms. Most of us do not even realise that these are actual, medical and clinical neuro-chemical imbalances in the brain which need to be treated like any other medical condition. Thus seeking help from a mental health professional is a must. 

What kind of queries and concerns you have been hearing recently from parents and children?

Children feeling isolated and missing out on meeting and going out with their friends. No physical activity, sports and exercise with bad eating habits and unhealthy / junk food binges is causing weight gain, Vitamin D 3 deficiencies, borderline diabetes and other hormonal imbalances. Unhealthy use of screen time and online or gaming addiction woes which is causing isolation and parent-child conflict.  

This also worsens attention spans, concentration levels and focus. There also seems to be an online schooling ‘burnout’ where children are losing their focus, interest, motivation and drive towards this education platform.

Many students have lost their integrity and honesty with this way of learning. There are cases of plagiarism, cheating on examinations and not putting in hard work, effort and effective study habits to prepare well before examinations.  

"Exciting news! Mid-day is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!" Click here!

Mid-Day Web Stories

Mid-Day Web Stories

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK