Education Technology Evangelist & Author, Ritika Subhash, Tells us Effective Ways For Kids to Overcome Exam Stress & Anxiety


There is an interesting parable I am very fond of – a grandfather is telling his granddaughter that in life, there are two wolves that are constantly at battle with each other– one is a good wolf that represents kindness, love, faith, confidence and happiness. And then there is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, jealousy, hatred and fear. The granddaughter asks the grandfather as to which wolf wins, and he replies by saying – “The One You Feed”.

In Picture: Ritika Subhash

Examinations Are Around The Corner!

The days and weeks leading up to exams can be very stressful, not just for the children appearing, but entire families as well. Expectations, comparisons and fear of the unknown can cause a lot of stress in everyone, but if only they could take a step back and think – in the grand scheme of life, one examination is not going to define any child’s future. There are always opportunities for those who are willing to plough through difficulties and not lose faith in their abilities.

However, instead of feeding the good wolf of confidence and faith, many times, we end up feeding the bad wolf of fear and inaction. Slowly, but surely, this bad wolf becomes stronger and puts into motions things like stress and anxiety, which are counter-productive for the student who is aiming to do well. So are there some simple ways to nurture the good wolf in this time of stress?

Below are three simple and effective recommendations for overcoming the anxiety you might be feeling, and a brief explanation of why they work. I recommend children as well as parents to practice these, in order to bring more calmness and clarity to the home environment, which will ultimately enable the child to perform at their peak productivity in exams.

Take A Walk

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Sarah Wilson, a New York Times Bestselling author and journalist who has written extensively on anxiety mentions in her book that walking goes at the same pace as discerning thought and that it alleviates anxiety. The anxious part of our brain, which modulates our flight-or-fright response, also modulates the body’s left-right movement. So when you walk, it can shut down that part of the brain. So, take a walking break every now and then to come back refreshed to your study table.

Pour Your Heart On A Paper

Just like walking, the act of writing to focuses the brain on the present activity as well as brain-muscle coordination, thus taking away the attention from distracting, fearful thoughts. So every now and then, take a break to write a short journal or a diary entry about anything other than studies. And avoid the temptation to browse the phone or write on the phone as the effect is not the same.

Straw Breathing

Image Source: Toronto Star

When we are in a stressful situation, we often forget to breathe. Our breath becomes short and hurried and the amount of oxygen being carried to every cell of the body reduces. This, in turn, makes us feel even more tired and stressed. There is a simple, slow-breathing technique, called Straw-breathing, which can help reset the breathing pattern and can very well be done without a straw.
It’s simple- take in a deep breath through the nose, and exhale slowly through the mouth, as you round your mouth in an ‘O’ position. This very act of deep, conscious breathing can silence your sympathetic nervous system (flight-or-fight) and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and repair).

The above three interventions, when consciously practised regularly during the exam, time will help enhance the mood and performance of students and make the whole experience of preparing for the exam more joyful.

Here’s wishing all the champions the very best! Keep feeding your good wolf!

The author Ritika Subhash is heading in India. She is an education technology evangelist and believes in the power of technology to transform classrooms and impact learning significantly. She is also a children’s book author, a storyteller and a mother to a young boy.

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