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Mental health and coping strategies for students

Post by on Monday, December 13, 2021

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Stress is a very common factor in everyone’s lifestyle. It impacts each one of us in its own ways, depending on lifestyle, circumstances (environmental conditions), professional & personal lifestyle, eating habits, sleeping pattern, mental strength, coping abilities, support system (family, friends, society), and current mental and physical health.


High Stress impacts the sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system that may result into:

·        Mental disorders, depression and anxiety.

·        Low self-esteem.

·        Lifestyle medical conditions – like GERD, hypertension etc.

Students are also impacted by stress to a very large extent due to various reasons. But there can be ways where a person can manage stress and the first step towards that is whether a person actually understands they are in a stress zone or not. After accepting, one can start working towards stress management through coping strategies.
 

How to monitor stress

There are ways to monitor and ‘questions to be asked’ to yourself in order to understand whether you are in a stress zone or not. These include:

 

1.     Are you not resting well?

2.     Are you feeling sleepy and fatigued during the day?

3.     Do you wake up tired and irritated in the morning?

4.     Are you impacted by peer pressure and parent’s ambitions?

5.     Are you spending very long hours on your studies?

6.     Are your eyes itching frequently with high screen time?

7.     How many steps do you cover throughout the day?

8.     Are you getting disturbed with some thoughts or some events or any person?

9.     Do you have a habit to eat or eat more in extreme emotions?

10.                       Do you eat more simple carbs and less fiber / protein / fat in your meals?

 

Based on the above questions, there are various types of stress one should understand, recognize and learn the coping strategies towards stress management in order to manage exam stress:

 

Type 1: Long study hours & parent’s pressure

Parents should understand that academic success is not the only deciding factor for a successful person. Therefore, there shouldn’t be unnecessary stress for students in order to achieve extraordinary results that are not their forte or not in their capacity.


Coping strategy:

·        Parents should understand their child’s capacity and recognize their interest areas.

·        Just because their peers are very inclined towards academics and earning good marks, doesn’t mean they should pressurize their child towards unnecessary high stressful study patterns.

·        Talk to your child and interact with them, try to find out their areas of interest and understand their capacities.

Advantages

 

1.     Improved performance as now the student is working / studying within their capacity and not trying to achieve something that’s not in their reach.

2.     Reduced stress and increased state of happiness.

3.     More connectivity with the study and patterns.

4.     Positive interactions with parents as they don’t put extra pressure on them to achieve extraordinary things.

5.     Avoiding lifestyle medical conditions such as hypertension, indigestion, insomnia due to less stress.

Type 2: Sleep Quality

 

One needs to understand the benefits of sound sleep and why it is important.

 

Coping Strategy: How to earn a sound sleep?

·               Regular workout in morning (cardio and strength) and evening (yoga or walk to relax).

·               Early and light dinner (latest by 8 PM), eat simple carbs: rice, roti and avoid any processed food like maida, fried, packaged food.

·               Avoid any gadgets / Mobile / screen, 30 min before bed time

·               Avoid heavy water intake post 9 PM.

·               15 minutes before bed time: Warm shower / soak foot in warm water / hot milk with turmeric / meditation - any of these.

·               Avoid any conflicts or phone calls 1 hour before bed time.

·               There should be a 2-3 hours gap between dinner and bedtime (idea time - Dinner - 7 PM and Bed time - 10 PM).

·               Read books before bed time.

·               Work on the calmness and interiors of your bed room -  less lit up, cozy bed and light fragrance.

·               Last but not the least - keep a positive frame of mind, train your mind and thoughts to be resilient and manage any stress or conflicts in a positive way.

 

Advantages

1.            Healthy body metabolic rate.

2.            Mind detox with good sleep quality.

3.            More efficiency in study due to a relaxed mind.

4.            Reduce fatigue and tiredness.

5.            Hormonal balancing / progress in growth hormones.

 

Type 3: Nutritional focus


Understand the importance of carbs and how to control the portion and timing of the intake.

 

A brief description about carbs before we get into it

 

·        Simple Carbs = Roti / rice/breads etc. Impact: quick digestion, immediate energy and immediate blood sugar hike, fat accumulation if portion and timing is wrong.

 

·        Complex Carbs = Veggies / Fruits. Impact: Takes time to digest, release energy over the time, doesn’t impact blood sugar, aids in fat and weight loss.

 

Coping Strategy

 

·        Portion Control: Simple carbs should be 1/4th of your meal plate in order to eat a balanced food.

 

·        Time Control: If meal is post 7 PM - There should be limited or no Simple carbs to avoid blood sugar hike and fat accumulation.

 

·        Combination: Carbs are important to help other macronutrients (Protein / Fat) get absorbed in the system.  So the Protein intake post workout should be supported with a portion of Carbs - both simple and complex.

 

·        When to say NO to Carbs: Avoid eating in extreme emotions - stress, anxiety, anger, happiness etc. As we eat more carbs in such situations and vice versa.

 

·        Regular Detox: Adopt weekly fruits and salad - fibre detox to flush out the toxins and free radicals as well as improve digestion with regular simple carbs intake. This will further reduce the curb to have more simple carbs.

 

·        Hydration:  Many times, we confuse thirst with hunger. Having 3–4-liter water per day will reduce the craving for simple carbs.

 

·        Workout: 30 min exercise for 5 days a week. Include strength workouts and cardio to gain muscle mass and lose body fat. This will help eat a balanced food and reduce Carbs craving.

 

·        Sedentary hours: Manage and reduce your sedentary time. Adopt a 30:3 ratio method. Low sedentary time = less carbs intake.

 

ADVANTAGES

1.            Reduce fatigue / high energy / feeling lighter.

2.            Body fat loss / Weight loss.

3.            Improved digestion.

4.            Healthy body metabolic rate.

5.            Reverse medical symptoms like - high BP, High Cholesterol, fatty Liver, Diabetes, GERD etc.

6.            Manage Extreme negative emotions including stress, anxiety, anger and depression.

7.            Manage appetite: Reduces appetite and reduces unnecessary fat accumulation.

 

Type 4: Immunity & Positive Thinking

 

Cut off stress caused by negative emotions that could be very harmful and reduce efficiency of a student.

 

Negative emotions: poor immunity, high stress and poor body metabolic rate.

 

How to manage negative emotions through positive thinking and gain a healthy immune system? How to reduce the negativity bias?

How to overcome negativity with positive emotions & in turn manage stress?

 

Coping Strategy: Learn to be resilient

 

o   List the pointers of the actions / events / people / situations that fills you up with positivity and follow the list when you feel low or negative.

 

o   Train your mind to balance negative emotions and focus on the actions or events that give you positive emotions.

 

o   Write a Journal about the events - about the negative events happened in the past - how will you manage the same events with positivity if happened in present?

 

o   Do not shy away from negativity. Rather gain more positivity to overpower the negatives.

 

o   Train your mind for empathy. Once you start thinking from other people’s perspective, you become Resilient and in turn become Positive.

Advantages

 

1.     Healthy cardiac Vigil tone resulting in boost up in study.

2.     Healthy heart rate.

3.     Better interpretation of a situation resulting in positive emotions.

4.     Improved decision-making skill developed with positive emotions.

5.     Healthy metabolic rate with low stress levels.

6.     Improved Immunity as positive thinking creates. Genetic expression on our Immunity.

                                 

Type 5: Stress Due to Inactivity / Sedentary Lifestyle

 

Sedentary lifestyle = low metabolic rate = weight gain = fat accumulation = hormonal imbalance = high metabolic stress.

 

Reasons for sedentary lifestyle: lifestyle, fatigue, depression, poor eating habits, poor sleep quality, high screen time, very high study hours.

 

Coping Strategy

o   Do a good workout - 30 min preferably morning – practice breathing workouts and focus on deep breathing practice before and during reading / writing questions.

 

o   Activity: Activity is different from a workout. A good workout doesn’t mean you can stay sedentary and inactive during the day. Walking while reading, talking or remembering any subject works very well to reduce sedentary time.

 

o   Follow 30: 3 ratio, 30 minutes sitting and 3 min standing or walking.

 

o   Get rid of any junk snacking. It leads to lethargy and in turn a sedentary pattern.

o   Reduce Screen time: If it’s part of your study: take frequent breaks after every 30 min.

 

o   Do outdoor training or activity - breathe fresh air and work on your endurance. Releasing toxins in the form of sweat reduces mental and physical fatigue and keeps you active.

 

Advantages

1.                  Healthy metabolic rate, low body fat and healthy weight.

2.                  Reduce fatigue - mental and physical

3.                  Reverse depression

4.                  Healthy hormonal balance

5.                  Flush out toxins (in form of sweat when we workout or we are active)

6.                  Avoids Fat accumulation in the body. Fat accumulation in joints is caused by inactivity.

7.                  Reduce appetite and avoid binge eating.

 

Type 6: Stress due to lack of time management

 

Stress is caused when we are not able to balance work, life and our health.

 

Coping Strategy

 

o   Get DISCIPLINED: What is to be done, has to be done.

 

o   Start your day early: You will have 1-2 hours extra in your pocket before you start school.

 

o   Prepare your to-do-list (daily or weekly): Do not miss out the tasks. Preparing to-do lists is a smart trick where you allocate the time for each task to be done.

o   Train your mind where you plan, frame up your entire day. Define your long-term goals. Make short term goals to achieve long term goals

o   Study Schedule: Make a study schedule / time table – and keep frequent relaxation breaks with music / walking/ breathing practice / yoga in that time table too. Don’t make it very stringent and difficult.

 

o   Sleeping Pattern: Focus on a sound sleep. Do not delay your bedtime and hit the bed maximum by 10 PM.

 

o   Most important – stay away from social gossips and negative people, negative events – as it will drain away your energy and efficiency.

Advantages

 

1. Efficiency at study and personal life.

2. Manage Stress and Anxiety that is caused when we do not balance our life.

3. Positive mind frame.

4. Improved performance in class and exams.

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