“A mental marathon like Board examination needs a calm mind, healthy body, correct nutrition and psychological grooming without any stress to sail successfully.”

With board exams round the corner, what matters the most to the parents and students are ‘grades’ though we all configure that grades do not qualify much; but the truth is that everyone wants quantified results of the board examinations and even the environment endorses it as admissions to good colleges and schools are more or less based and biased on the number and percentage game. If you are a parent to a would-be-appearing board exam student or a student experiencing examination blues, you might be trying hard to cope-up with the living realities and stress associated with it.

As rightly told, board exams are like a mental marathon and students need to keep their energy levels up, brains at the sharpest and their bodies free of diseases. During times of such intense exam pressure, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a nutritional diet is very important for the students to keep their stress levels to minimum to help them getting through all of their papers with flying colours, as they work hard for it and they deserve  good results.

Wrong dietary choices can make students feel anxious and slow down their comprehensive thinking process. So, there is an univocal requirement of addressing the nutritional aspect co-opted with psychological grooming for bright young children to ace the board exams in a better manner.

Firstly, lets uncover the reasons and the effects of the Examinations with the coordinated Pandemic on Mind & Body of students appearing for the Board Examinations.Reasons for  pressure during such  time may be due to peer, parents, environmental and above all the students’ expectations from themselves. These have compounded more because of less interactions forced by the pandemic like restricted outdoor movements, online classes, on screen presence more than desired and the fear of unknown in their unconscious minds.

The effect of such pressure as per nutritional & psychological research and studies can be situations like indulgence in stress eating pattern, developing unhealthy eating habits, weight gain and laziness, sleep pattern disturbance, lack of concentration and focus, memory at reduced level, weak Immunity and above all an anxious behavior.

Apropos, what is desired?

To cope up with situations precisely not under control, we have certain corrective measures, which eventually would help students to ace the board exams well as planned; if followed.

Balancing diet with Study Time – When faced with repetitive revisions, nutritional requirement often slides way down on the priority list. But, this is the time when the brain requires the best nutrition fuel.

Students should eat a healthy & balanced diet which is rich with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein-rich foods. Consuming food rich in complex carbohydrate & protein provides brain with adequate nourishment to aid in memory retention and keep energising the brain tissues.

Hence must try…..to have servings of whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetable, milk, curd, nuts & eggs daily in your diet. Avoid junk, refined and processed foods, eat natural and healthy energy boosters like brown rice, fruits like Banana, Apple, Guava, Oranges, Strawberries, Fatty fishes, sweet Potato, Eggs, curd, flax seeds etc., Eat more protein rich foods like Eggs, legumes (pulses), chicken, dry fruits or nuts, milk, Salmon, paneer, soya products etc. Healthy carbs from sweet potatoes can also help stay energised for longer duration.

Give stress on Food that relieves stress – The stress aspect is there with everyone buthow we handle it; can make all the difference. Stress management can be a powerful tool for wellness, since too much stress is bad, there are many strategies, but most important is to understand, what you eat. Food can help tame stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm Dalia or oatmeal boosts level of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other food can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline; stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time. A healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure. 

Here are some stress buster super foods; a must during preparing for the exams…

Eggs – contain choline, a nutrient that is needed for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that impacts the portion of the brain responsible for regulating mood and reducing stress.

Whole Grains – All carbs prompt the brain to make more serotonin. For a steady supply of this feel-good chemical, it’s best to eat complex carbs, which take longer to digest. Good choices include whole-grain cereals like Wheat, Oat, Ragi, Jowar, Bajra etc. Complex carbs can also help  feel balanced by stabilizing blood sugar levels. Dietitians usually recommend steering clear of simple carbs, which include sweets and soda. But in a pinch, these foods can hit the spot. They’re digested quickly, leading to a spike in serotonin. Still, it doesn’t last long and simple carbs can also spike blood sugar, There are better options. So don’t make these a stress-relieving habit; you should limit them.

Oranges – Oranges are one of the best source of vitamin ‘C’. Studies suggest this vitamin can curb levels of stress hormones and also strengthen the immune system. 

Raw Vegetables – Crunchy raw vegetables can also help ease stress in a purely mechanical way. Munching celery or carrot sticks helps release a clenched jaw, and that can ward off tension too.

Dark Leafy vegetables – Too little magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue, compounding the effects of stress. One cup of spinach soup or vegetable helps you stock back up on magnesium. Don’t like spinach?…Other green, leafy vegetables too are good magnesium sources. 

Flax seeds – It provides omega-3 fatty acids, which is known to be mood lifting and possibly help in combating depression.

Fatty fishes – To keep stress in check, make choices with naturally fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, can prevent surges in stress hormones. For a healthy supply of feel-good omega-3s, aim to eat at least 100 gms of fatty fish at least twice a week.

Almonds – Almonds are chock-full of helpful vitamins; vitamin E to bolster the immune system, plus B vitamins, which may make you more resilient during bouts of stress or depression. To get the benefits, snack on a quarter of a cup every day.

Warm Milk – Research shows that calcium eases anxiety and mood. Dietitians typically recommend skim or low-fat lukewarm  milk daily.

Overall one has to re-evaluate his/her dietary approach towards exam preparation to beat stress

Strengthening Immune System – Students should avoid having digestive issues and getting cold, mild flue or other unwelcome sicknesses during preparation period. Hence try Probiotic Foods, avoid large meal in one go and take small amount of frequent mealsTo ensure a steady stream of energy, better digestion and a calming effect on the brain, eat intermittently.

Control the caffeine intake (though it soothes your routine) Caffeine leaves you dehydrated and more stressed and restless. This generates insomnia, headache, rapid or abnormal heart rhythm, anxiety and dependency on such hot beverages. Instead sip on green tea or any caffeine-free herbal tea.

Don’t wait for the hunger pangs to arrive as hunger pangs make things worse&may generate gas and stomach acheheadacheand make you binge more in your next meal. So, ideal is that take 3 main meals with 3 snacks in between daily. Snack with healthy option like fruits, nuts, seeds or other homemade foods.

Hydration is one of the most important aspect which one thinks that he/she has to drink water/fluid only when he/she is thirsty. It’s not about quenching thirst, it’s about drenching your system with fluids as store house to help other system run smoothly. It is important because it delivers nutrients to the cells, removes constipation, regulates body temperature, prevent infections, improves sleep quality, mood & cognition & supports memory functions. It is advised that one must drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. Water breaks between study timings is important.

Take out enough time to relish your food. Slow down during your meal.   Eat mindfullychew your food nicelyavoid any distraction&Enjoy your meal. After every meal one should feel more fulfilled. It will also refresh & prepare body & mind for long hours of studies.

Meals on Time habit. Always have your meals on time; a routine like everyone follows classes.Never forget your eating and sleeping schedule and never skip your breakfast. Have something within 1 hour after getting up.Eat  last meal as early in the evening as possibleHave 1 cup of warm milk with jaggery & 1 tsp of turmeric powder before bedtimeIt saves time and keeps your mind and body healthy.

Sleep – Never compromise on the sleep aspect. It promotes cognition and memory, facilitates learning, recharges our mental and physical batteries, and generally helps us make the most out of our days. With plentiful sleep, we improve our mental and physical health and it reduces stress and further maintains the routine that is critical for healthy routine functioning. A good night’s sleep can significantly improve mood, concentration and academic performance; It’s a tested fact. Try not to sacrifice your sleep for late-night cramming, It makes the mind irritable. Students should avoid studying until the early hours and must avail a full eight hours of sleep.

Exercise Regularly – Besides changing dietary habits one of the best stress-busting strategies is to start exercising. Aerobic exercises boost oxygen circulation and spur our body to make the much required  feel-good chemicals called endorphins. One must aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week. It should not be taken as a wastage of time.Exercises keep children mentally relaxed and calm, helping them study more and efficiently.Even if a student/child is feeling short of time or overwhelmed, he/she must allow themselves breaks. By doing this, you refresh yourself and regain focus on what is required.Neglecting physical and mental health can do more harm in longer run and to the aim & concentration.

Eat well, sleep adequately, stay fit and study smart. Doing and minding all this will boost a non-stop success and requisite grades in the Board exams which every child aims for. Have trust in yourself and must remember that the best is yet to happen.

Even every parent should take the Board examination of their children as part & parcel of their test. It is the test of grit of the parent’s hard work which they have done paving way for their children, their sacrifices, their grooming and above all expectations of a good future of their children. Try to stay calm & stress free wear smile. Plan in advance with your child for the future courses of actions sand create a distraction free environment for study and be a support system to the child. Take care of them with their daily routine – Eat, sleep & exerciseMust set realistic goals and expectation and use motivating words to them; They need your friendly support.