Coping with exam stress
Exam season – that tricky time for students and parents. A bit of stress can help motivate students to get down to work but if stress levels start to get out of control they can get in the way of students doing their best – or even start to cause health problems.
Deal with exam stress by following these simple dietary and lifestyle tips – and help keep students calm and balanced through the next few weeks:
Sleep – this is crucial for a healthy stress response so don’t be tempted to stay up all night cramming before an exam – a good night’s sleep will have a much more positive effect on results. Maybe a relaxing bath will help to wind down before before to bed.
Exercise – to improve exam performance, make time each day to exercise, even a short walk would count.
Relax – do something that helps you relax every day – listen to music or have a bath. If you think you don’t have time to relax, that’s when you need to most!
Eat well – rather than grabbing quick fixes like coffee or sugary treats, choose nutritious food to maximise energy and support a balanced stress response. Eating well starts with breakfast so choose slow-release energy foods such as oats topped with a handful of brain-boosting nuts and seeds or a couple of poached eggs on wholemeal toast. Remember to eat regularly throughout the day to keep energy levels stable and support your brain-power!
Water – keep well hydrated throughout the day, even the slightest dehydration has a huge impact on concentration. Be guided by the colour of your pee, if sufficiently hydrated it should be almost colourless; the deeper the colour the greater degree of dehydration.
Key nutrients for exam time:
Omega 3s – crucial for brain function – eat plenty of fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines as well as walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Magnesium – a key mineral to support calm and relaxation – have loads of dark green leafy veg like cabbage, broccoli and spinach every day as well as nuts and seeds, mackerel, avocado, brown rice and dark chocolate (not milk!).
B vitamins – essential for energy production, a healthy stress response and proper functioning of the brain and nervous system – eat plenty of wholegrain foods like brown rice and whole oats, beef, salmon, eggs and avocado.