Amidst the clatter for marks, a lot of students today continue to join the rat race to “succeed”. As a result of the constant pressure to score well in exams, students as young as 4 years to 16 years are reportedly suffering from psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention disorders.
As these children grow up, the same stress to score higher that is inculcated in school goes on to affect them in their adult life as well.
When people decide to prepare for a government exam, they are generally pumped up with enthusiasm and hope to clear the exam in one go. They are happy to think that clearing government exams such as SBI PO, Indian Railways, SSC, UPSC, among others is synonymous to success for life.
However since the competition is tough and the pressure is at the maximum level, some students slip into the shadows of depression. Even if they have the potential to clear the exam in one go, their mind-set weighs them down.
Today, one student commits suicide every hour in the country. This makes it more than evident that we as a society are doing very less to inform our students that their mental well-being is much more important than any exam.
We urgently need to help students understand the importance of mental health and urge them to prioritize their health over exams.
Mental health awareness: Finding a way out of stress
While cracking a government exam is good for future prospects, one must not make it a question of happiness and sorrow or life and death. Even then if one doesn’t get the desired result, one should be able to detach oneself and not give up hope. Such detachment is possible when one is completely aware of one’s mental health. Here it is not a system that needs to be transformed, but the mindset, the thought process, which actually parodies the society.
This can be done by opening a dialogue on mental health. Understanding how stress affects mental health can solve half the problem and help aspirants prepare more efficiently without compromising on their health. It can also help strengthen their coping mechanisms whenever they face failures.
Following are the ways in which mental health awareness can help aspirants during preparation:
1. Figuring out the right balance
One of the best ways of staying on track with one’s preparation is by making a timetable. While figuring out a suitable study timetable, it is important to allot different subjects a good amount of time each day. However, one can’t ignore the need for activities like yoga or sports.
Figuring out the right balance between studies and physical activity will positively affect one’s preparation.
Further, it is important for one to follow this timetable strictly as it will boost confidence and allow one to become more disciplined.
2. Social connectivity
Most students tend to cut out all their friends when they prepare for any government exam.
They isolate themselves limiting their communication to only study-related concerns, thinking this would help them concentrate better on their course. This leads to emotional burnout as lack of light interaction can make them feel hopeless and alone.
Students can connect with their friends in order to discuss relevant topics and subjects, and know where exactly they stand in their preparation process. However, when discussing course contents, they should not compare their outcomes or speed as it can have a negative effect on their confidence.
3. The importance of meals
In the rush of preparation one often forgets to eat healthy. In fact one often skips meals altogether. While doing so once or twice doesn’t make a difference, skipping several meals over the week affects both the body and the mind. The nutrients from food not only provide fuel to the body to function, but also play a major role in sustaining one’s mental health in the long run. It is important to stick to a balanced diet which should comprise the five vital nutrients – fats, vitamins, proteins, minerals and carbohydrates.
While going hungry isn’t the wisest thing to do, overeating is as bad for the mind and the body. Other than making students feel sleepy, overeating makes one uncomfortable and adds to the stress.
4. Mindfulness and self awareness
Practicing mindfulness to bring one’s attention to present experiences can increase self-awareness and concentration. One of the best ways to be more mindful is by taking short breaks to meditate.
This way, instead of sitting for hours together half-heartedly, one can study for smaller stretches of time with greater attention. This also relaxes the mind and pumps one up with new energy to start afresh.
5. Never underestimate the power of a good sleep
Staying awake at odd hours is considered as an integral part of a student’s life. However reversing the body clock against the day, makes one lethargic and triggers melancholy in the long term.
The quality of sleep at night is richer than what one experiences in the daytime. Hitting the sack on time evidently decreases stress levels. This helps one wake up early, which gives one a sense of accomplishment every day.
Though some amount of stress pushes people to perform better, a lot of it over a long period of time only disrupts the body and the mind. Mental health awareness is all about being conscious of your mental state and managing stress efficiently. Balancing life and exam preparations, which are only a small part of it, will help aspirants lead a happy life, no matter what their results turn out to be.
As they begin to manage their mental health in a better way, aspirants will see merit in having a peaceful mind and thus a wholesome experience of life.