Homework, assignments, assessed projects, extra classes, tuition, tests and finally exams! The world of students revolves around these words. Once a student reaches high school, these words adopt a greater value, and students spend all their time immersed in schoolwork. The parental expectation and pressure, peer pressure, and increased work load associated with it start taking their toll as the exam season approaches. However, it doesn’t stop there. College students also experience pressures as they try to manage several new tasks along with increased competition and syllabus. Students are faced with many challenges in today’s competitive world, and this causes stress.

Stress – the inevitable signs

Students start feeling increasingly tensed, panicky and anxious, as time grows short. They snap irritably, feel annoyed with little things, don’t sleep well, and give vent to frustrated tears. They also feel constantly trapped, depressed and pressurised. This leads to a certain level of isolation from family and friends, causing a feeling of loneliness and changes in normal eating and sleeping patterns. Have you noticed any of this?

All of this points to stress. Stress causes headaches, migraine, breathlessness, fever and even stomach aches in students. Immense stress can lead to panic attacks and anxiety disorders. For girls, stress causes severe menstrual pain, managing which becomes difficult. Irregular periods, or a decrease in menses (bleeding) are also sometimes noticed. A study found that four fifths of students surveyed in higher secondary had examination related anxiety.

Fear of failure is a major reason

Some students face depression and isolation following failure in these important school years, and this can cause acute mental distress, and anguish. The extreme cases end up in suicides. Estimates say that more than 13 students in Vishakhapatnam have ended their lives in the last 5 years due to extreme academic pressure.  In Kota, Rajasthan, 57 student suicides in the same time have been attributed students unable to bear pressure to get great scores in order to get into the top colleges, especially emphasized in coaching institutes.

How to help them de-stress?

Students need to relax, specially as the exams draw nearer. They need to be surrounded by positivity, inspiration and a cheerful atmosphere.  Parents and schools need to show support and express their confidence in the children. Providing the children with good healthy food and a calm atmosphere can help tremendously. Helping the children unwind before going to bed can help them sleep better. Offering opportunities for recreation aid to freshen the mind and increase focus. Encouraging them to get outside and engage in some physical activity like exercise or sports is a great way to revitalize them.

Offering counselling to highly stressed students would be useful to curb their anxieties.

Above all, talking to the children and drawing out their inner thoughts and tension; and in return offering support and comforting them can be beneficial in reducing their stress.  Not adding additional pressure regarding marks and discouraging comparisons with peers can also be a huge motivating factor.

Students need to enjoy education, and have to be able to revel in learning. Stress is their natural enemy and students require parental support to overcome it.

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