Exam time is quite a stressful ordeal for students and parents alike. Wouldn’t a successful examination without the stress be great? Healthy habits can build that foundation for you! Just follow these simple yet important parameters and it will help you and your kids during exams!
1. Nutrition During Exams
Though a good practice to maintain at all times, healthy eating assumes greater significance during exams. Food fuels the mind and body. The quality of food you eat largely determines your overall health and mental acuity.
- Eat Smaller, Frequent Meals
If you feed your child a large meal, then he/she will experience a dip in energy and the alertness to study for hours on end. Small meals provide a steady supply of energy to the exam fatigued brain. Keep a steady supply of glucose (energy) throughout the day. This will ensure that your child is focused during study time as well as the exam. Avoid keeping long gaps between meals.
Opt for healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, popcorn, fruit scones, dried fruit, yogurt or nuts. This will keep your child going throughout the day. They are a better option than cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets. The refined sugars in these products will only give your child a ‘sugar rush’ after eating them but will leave them feeling flat and in a bit of a slump shortly afterwards.
- Food For The Brain
Vitamin B strengthens brain functioning. Good food sources of Vitamin B are meats (red meat, poultry, fish), eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese), Legumes (beans, lentils), seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds), whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet), dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach), fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas).
- Omega 3 Fats
You may have heard the mention of Omega-3 fats as heart-protective. However, they also play an important role in memory, concentration, and relieving depression. Omega 3 has been shown to help brain function and increase concentration. It also helps to improve your immune system when your body and mind are stressed. To get your omega-3 fats, you can eat oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, halibut and trout. You can also give flax, chia, melon and sunflower seeds to your kids.
- Avoid Junk and Oily Foods
Junk and oily foods slow your body down. Be sure to avoid it. Include good quality proteins such as fish, eggs, milk products, sprouts, etc. Munch fruits and vegetables in between as to keep going for long hours.
- Never Skip Meals During Exams
Simply put, your brain needs the energy from food to work efficiently. Your child needs to keep his/her mental focus on the exam and not on hunger. A light meal before the exam will ensure that your child has the energy to pull through the long exam hours. A meal that includes wholegrain carbohydrates will suffice but ensure that it is in small portions. This is to avoid feeling too lethargic or sleepy.
2. Sleep During Exams
To function on an exam day, your child does not only need the energy that comes from nutrition but also the energy that comes from adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can bring in several health repercussions, especially when coupled with stress. Adequate sleep ensures that your child can recall all the information he/she has worked so hard to learn. Sleep also leaves room to absorb new information that he/she may read. Students preparing for their exams should get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night to maintain good mental and physical health.
Avoid caffeine-containing drinks late at night. A milky or herbal drink such as chamomile tea can ensure a calm and good night’s sleep.
3. Hydration During Exams
It is important to stay hydrated. Not just during exams but all the time. Dehydration can make a person feel lethargic, irritable and tired. Worst of all, it affects concentration. This affects an individual’s ability to focus, study or perform. Do not wait till your child is thirsty. If you wait till he/she is thirsty, it means his/her body is already a little dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can lead to tiredness, headaches, reduced alertness and diminished concentration.
Keep a glass of liquid (fruit juice, coconut water, water) within easy reach while studying and ensure your child has a bottle of water with him/her during the exam. Aim for 1.5 to 2L of fluid per day.
4. Managing Stress During Exams
Unmanaged stress can cause sleep disruption, headaches, poor concentration, and over consumption of junk food. All of these can contribute to impaired test performance. While stress is inevitable, finding appropriate ways to deal with it is the key to staying healthy during exams.
Being active is one of the best things your child can do to stay sane during exam week. Exercising releases endorphins, which make you feel happy and reduce stress. Physical activity is an effective tool to improve academic performance. Exercise also helps in improving memory and thinking ability for students by increasing oxygen flow to the brain. To help relieve stress, clear mind and lift mood, break up study with short bursts of exercise. Your child could go for a jog, a swim, a cycle, or even just walk to your local shop. Listening to music can also create a positive and productive environment by elevating mood and encouraging your child to study more effectively for a longer period of time.
To sum everything up – your child needs to eat well-balanced, healthy meals regularly. He/She needs to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. A well-ventilated room, regular breaks and sound sleep will ensure that your child performs at his/her best during the exams!
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