By Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh
Many of us love to hate studies, and still manage to get through. Many of us envy the so-called “scholars” in class, who manage to score twice the marks with half the study.
To study well without getting stressed is an art that requires a few rules. Here are some ways and techniques to study better and practice relaxation. These rules can make studies seem like — fun and game. It is all very simple and extremely easy.
We all come across many challenging situations. To tackle them effectively may seem to be quite daunting task. Let me try to address some of you pressing problems.
Sudha Verma (Bangalore): My child is either sleep too less or too much and also eats too less or too much?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: It seems that your child’s sleep and appetite are disturbed due to high-stress levels. Do not force him to sleep or eat. Try to understand the cause of the stress. Talk about his fears and apprehensions. Make him feel understood. Provide adequate support. Keep consistent sleep and meal times. The child should be encouraged to indulge in some physical activities and relaxation exercises like deep breathing or recreational activities.
Raj Kamal Singh (Delhi): My Son spends the night before cramming the syllabus but still cannot complete his course?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: Your son might be suffering from high anxiety and also, mental block due to inefficient ways of studying. For him, memory enhancement in the form of PQ4R is recommended.
A study conducted by Swashrit society on 5000 students from public schools in Delhi and NCR have shown a definite improvement in recall abilities. PQ4R stands for Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite and Review. This strategy helps students with difficulty in reading, comprehension, retaining and recalling information. This strategy makes reading easier.
Mnemonics pronounced “ne-mon’-ics” are the triggers of memories which can be used to assist the memory by using images, colours, rhymes, sounds, rules, phrases, diagrams, acronyms and other devices – to recall names, dates, facts and figures.
Geeta Luthra (Patna): My daughter is unable to concentrate on studies?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: Here, the child is maybe suffering from high anxiety, stress, and mental fatigue that may prevent him from focussing on his studies. Help your child to practice deep breathing exercises\ meditations twice a day for 10-15 mints. Auto-suggestion is also an effective exercise which instills positive thoughts and mental frame of mind. This is done by repeating to oneself positive and encouraging statements. This is a relaxation self-therapy which should help the child attain a mental relaxation free from worries and stress. Here, it is important that your child gets enough breaks in between his studies to prevent him/her from having a mental saturation or fatigue.
- Set aside a place for study and study only!
- Choose a specific place
- Always study at that specific place
- Study area should be conducive to studying
- Avoid certain things in the study area like tell. , t.v. etc.
Sudhir Pant (Mussoorie): My 16-year-old son has become very moody and irritable?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: This may be due to hormonal changes during puberty, or an inability to deal or cope with the pressure of studies and the hassles of growing up. It is also a period of high insecurity with regards to his capacity and goal. Try to be more tolerant of his mood swings. Also make your child understand these mood swings may be due to physiological changes in the body. Don’t be too quick in your reaction (negative reaction, anger out-bursts) towards his hostility due to his mood swing. Teach him appropriate ways of managing his emotions like open communication, sharing his state of mind with peers ‘n’ parents, appropriate anger management techniques, etc.
Seema Swamy (Kanpur): My son puts in all lot of effort, still he is not able to perform well?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: It seems too much of performance anxiety is overstraining his mental capacity.
- Help your child stays active! Maintaining a good balance between intellectual and physical activity is a good way of dealing with a stressful situation. Staying active will allows the body to find its normal level of tension. Swashrit Society, an NGO started Get Active, a lifestyle enhancement program in the schools across India and after working with over a 100schools found physical exercise as one of the best ways to improve performance
- Eat well! Do not try to perform on an empty stomach and avoid junk food. Fresh fruits and vegetables are recommended to reduce the stress level.
- Breaks in between his studying are essential to motivate and enhance his productivity.
Kajol Sinha (Kolkotta): My son has started making excuses for avoiding school?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: Your child was maybe avoiding the situation as this may cause him to feel too anxious or tensed. Try to understand his reasons for acting the way he is acting. Then try to address his anxiety and fears. They may be personal or academic reasons, or both. Help him to express and share his worries through life or self-example and also talk to his teachers and peer about his problem and find a solution through their help.
Ritika Suri (Patiala): My child often gets lost in the details while reading and has trouble identifying the main ideas?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: High level of distraction and monotony may be the prime reason. It is important for the parent to explain to the child the Essentials of reading that include
- Recitation: saying out loud and running a finger along the lines , while one is reading and memorizing, (you may initiate sitting with him while he reads to encourage him and occasionally read out to him also )
- Writing: taking notes as they go through the notes,
- Visualization at the end of reading such that he remembers the location of what he read
- Questioning your child to reinforce his reading and recall:
Piyush Pandey (Coimbatore): My son seems to be thorough with his preparation and yet fails to perform in the exams?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: Exam anxiety is at its highest. Help your child to practice the following cues so as to boost his performance. Help your child to learn deep breathing in neutral situations such that he starts his exam by deep breathing and normalizes his anxiety…
Encourage him to strategize and abide the following rules:
Make yourself comfortable, Your task is to do best you can now
- Take your time to read through all the questions and instructions carefully
- Pick out the questions that relate well to your revisions
- Plan your answers Do your best to ignore everyone else while planning
- Manage your time, estimate the time needed to answer each question or each section of your exam.
- Answer questions in a strategic order by answering the easiest questions before going on to the difficult ones. This will have an effect of building a level of confidence.
- To answer essay type questions, prepare a broad outline of the important ideas and the order in which one wants to present them before writing the answers.
- If your panic gets worse; put down your pen and relax \deep breathe.
- If you feel unwell, ask the invigilator if you may leave the room for a short while.
Puneet Gupta (Jalandhar): My son is having problem with time management with regards to his study?
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh: Prioritize the work, studies according to the table below:
It is the aim of this time management grid to help us maintain an optimal level stress by helping us to prioritize the studies \work. A daily record is to be made for effective productivity. Encourage making daily, short term and long term goals with adequate reinforcements at the completion of these goals
Sachin Sood (Mathura): My son sometimes, suffers from dizziness, fatigue, nausea, fast and shallow breathing…
Rachna Khanna Singh: This is maybe due to the child’s habit of being cooped up in his room for too long with out having time relax. Here, it is important to explain to your child the importance of physical exercise, to go for walks in the morning or evening as this helps to refresh the mind
With the increase in suicides and depression among students, the crippling effect of academic stress is now making waves in the life of students. While bags are getting heavier and the syllabi slightly tougher the maximum amount of pressure is felt right before exams or at the time of approaching of exam results. This results in major lifestyle changes such as smoking, disturbed sleep, taking medication and increased intake of caffeine.
Hence it is time that we sit down with our children and tell him that it’s not as tough as it seems. Enjoying academics is not unattainable, it’s just a bit challenging. We easily say life is a game so in that case why should studies be any different, it is a game too and just like every other game there are certain rules to study. There are certain ways and techniques to study better. Only when one plays the game of studies according to the rules and techniques does studying become beautifully simplified and extremely easy and to our astonishment we find ourselves being one the ‘envied scholars’. Not every one of us is a born book worm or one who enjoys studying, but it is something that can be inculcated in a child if the right approach is taught to him or simply the right technique.. Learning should be made fun, and we’re going to elucidate some ways of how exactly that can be done.
Dr Rachna Khanna Singh is H.O.D. Psychology and Holistic Medicine at Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon. She is a Mental Health professional with a Medical background focused on Lifestyle & Stress Management. She provides Individual, Group and Corporate counselling with a strong focus on Hospital and Clinical care.