With the countdown for board exams almost over, parents, during this season of the year become proactive in supporting their kids in every possible way, till they enter the examination hall. All students, along with their parents, face some level of exam stress during this time for obvious reasons. It is good indeed to have some anxiety inside your kid’s heart as that motivates him to stay focused and work harder. But in our current education system, the exam stress often exceeds that healthy threshold, as both students and their parents are overburdened with high expectations, fear of failure, peer pressures, desire to outperform others etc . Such extreme exam anxiety can surely have adverse effects on your teenager’s performance as well as create different health complications like sleeping disorder, headache, panic attack, sweating, nausea right before the exams.
Besides other de-stressing techniques, nutrition plays a crucial role in beating the exam stress off. Your child’s academic performance can depend a lot on what you serve on his plate. While certain eating habits help him to concentrate, memorise and feel energetic during the long hours of study, some other foods can make him sluggish, exhausted and add to the nervousness.
Let us see how you can energise your kid with the right diet to revise his lessons even in the late hours of the day :
1. Make your kid eat his meals :
The extreme stress of exams may make your boy refuse to eat (often to save time for revisions). But remember, his fatigued brain needs more energy than usual, during the exams to focus on studies and avoid getting exhausted. Avoiding meals will also lead to unhealthy snacking which adversely affects your boy’s performance. So offer him healthy, easy-to-gulp down foods, like smoothies, yoghurt, cereal mixed with milk etc if he refuses to eat regular meals. Include foods of his likes so that he don’t consider eating as a bad experience during this time.
2. Offer A healthy breakfast and a light dinner :
Research says that kids who have breakfast, perform better in exams. Board exam is a period when your son experiences mental tension for a longer period of time. To support his cognitive abilities in this continued mental pressure, he must have these brain boosting foods: whole grains, fruit salads, leafy greens, oats, milk, yoghurt, sprouts, nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds , flax seeds etc.
At the same time, eating right before sleep, or a heavy meal at dinner creates an unwanted tension within his body that continues in sleep, interfering with his cognitive abilities. So light dinner at 8 o’clock would be perfect for boosting his mental abilities as well as reducing exam stress.
3. Eating in smaller portions frequently :
Even in normal situations you may have observed that you feel tired and sleepy after a heavy, full meal. Your body exhausts lot of energy to digest a full meal, leaving very little for tightened cognitive functions that is required during exams. So let him eat as much as to satisfy his hunger but not enough to feel full. Hence allow your kid to have frequent small meals ( preferably 3 large meals and 2 snacks in a day in small portions), to ensure a steady flow of energy in his highly alert brain.
4. Smart Snacks :
Treat the exam season as a special time when preparing his tiffin for the short breaks during exams. Stuff his lunchbox with all healthy homemade snacks like fruits, home baked nuts, homemade granola bars, flax seed/ chia seeds/ dry fruits laddoos, paneer sandwich etc . Remember, this is not a time for him to think about “what to eat” but is a high time for you to supply only nutritious foods for him. So completely avoid outside foods both to save his time and health.
5. Keep him hydrated :
Pressure of studies may leave your boy forget to drink water even when he feels thirsty. Keep an eye on his water intake, since even a mild dehydration during this heightened mental pressure, can lead to headache, lack of concentration, alertness and poor performance. Ensure that he drinks 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day. Hence, don’t feel guilty to interrupt his study by placing a glass of water/ milk/ butter milk/ coconut water/ lukewarm water with honey on his table in regular intervals.
6. Reassign ‘adequate sleep’ in project ‘Board Exam’ :
A very common tradition of student life is to convert sleeping hours into study hours in order to mug up as much as possible at the last moment. But make him understand that sleeping is not waste of time but a better way to keep exam stress away as well as to memorise his lessons. Sleep also helps to detoxify the brain from the adverse substances it accumulates during a day. Your kid’s brain processes informations better when he gets enough sleep. So, on the night before exam, make him eat his meal at least 3 hours before sleep, have a shower, and then go to his bed early.