Exam stress can lead to depression and suicide. Prescriptions for anti depressant drugs, so called ‘happy drugs’ increase amongst teenagers in the age group 16-18 years in full time education during exam days. This figure crosses 20% in school population in the West.

To create awareness about the rising problems of stress in the Indian context, Dr Aggarwal said that the fear of failure, fear of letting down are the two most common factors leading to suicide and depression.

Children also use drugs to keep awake during exams and end up with addictions. Anticipatory anxiety peaks before exams resulting in adverse affects on the body and mind and therefore, a suboptimal performance. Stress not only causes palpitations and tense muscles but also reduces the ability to make decisions, act or express oneself including organization of thoughts. Stress during exam makes it difficult to read and understand questions and even to recall terms and concepts.

A study has shown that 45 minutes of afternoon nap improves the declarative memory. Declarative memory is the memory of events learnt and understood earlier during the year. Not taking an afternoon nap or night sleep may cause the child end up with transient loss of declarative memory. Sleep appears to help “set” these declarative memories and makes them easier to recall. The other type of memory is “procedural memory,” which applies to skills and has no impact with the midday nap.

Free writing can clear mental stress: By spending 30 minutes each day for four days to write out your innermost thoughts and feelings, one can significantly boost mental and physical health. In expressive writing therapy, students are encouraged to express whatever is on their mind, letting their hopes and fears flow out in a natural, unrestrained way. It’s akin to keeping a journal, but more focused on the things that might be bothering you or triggering stress. While writing, the students need not worry about the punctuations. It’s all about stepping back and thinking about things in a different way, making linkages. Writing out emotions eases stress and, in turn, boosts the immune system.

Memories of traumatic events are not suppressed by the people who have experienced them and can be clearly recalled. In a five-year study, scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax found that pleasant events were more difficult to recall than unhappy ones.

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