This past weekend on Sunday afternoon, I decided to relax by reading the Sunday Times (big mistake!). Anyway, I came across an article that stated that 500 000 mums in South Africa are super stressed as their children are writing their matric exams soon. Interestingly, there was no mention of dads being stressed during exam time.
When I think of all the people I meet, from patients to relatives, it is evident that mothers experience exam stress way before their children reach matric. This eventually leads to burnout, so much so, that the holiday season starts with an energy deficit.
While I am not perfect in handling exam stress 100% of the time, over the years I’ve learnt that there are ways in which we can support ourselves and our children during this crucial time.
Ensure that your child gets at least 8 hours of sleep.
More than 60% of children are dehydrated. The brain is the organ that needs water the most.
A diet high in fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes (peas, beans and lentils) will provide the vitamins, minerals and fiber the body needs. Takeaways, processed foods and sugary energy drinks should be avoided as they give you an energy high which is quickly followed by a crash.
Movement or any form of exercise helps relieve stress. Children use movement to integrate what they have learnt, so schedule the play time (study break) and they are more likely to concentrate when they’re sitting at their desk.
The IPAD, cellphone, television and games are not stress busters but increases your child’s anxiety level. If your child is using the IPAD to study, please remember to put the device on airplane mode, have it raised on a table at eye level to avoid neck strain and put in place a device cut off time as close as possible to sunset to allow their brain to relax. The good old fashioned way of learning with books, paper, pens and highlighters is the preferred mode of studying after sunset.
A little bit of stress is healthy. It gets the studying going and keeps it that way. However, as a parent, you need to assess when the anxiety levels are too high so that you can assist your child accordingly. If you are unsure about their anxiety levels or if your child is not coping, then a medical assessment is essential.
There are a range of over the counter as well as prescription supplements that are safe and effective for children to take.
Last but not least, remember…..
To take care of yourself.
To go for a walk.
To listen to your body.
To limit your distractions too.
To look at the big picture. To be present.
To hug your child and tell them that you are proud of them.
That your child is so much more than his marks, in the same way that you are much more than your job title.
Time is precious, especially now.
Make it count!
Take the 60 second quiz to find out if you have burnout.