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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Understanding Stress: Common reactions and the ways to tackle it

Common Physical reactions:
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Muscle tension
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Indigestion
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Sleep difficulties
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Rapid uneven or pounding heartbeat
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Frequent urge to pass urine
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Fast, shallow breathing
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Chest discomfort
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Change in appetite, constipation or diarrhea
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Backache/headache
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Cramps
Common Psychological reactions:
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Feeling under pressure, frustration and aggression
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Feeling tense and unable to relax
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Feeling mentally drained out
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Fussy, gloomy or suspicious, being constantly frightened or irritable
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Inability to concentrate or complete the task.
Stress Management: The Physical approach:
(A) Eating healthy:
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Balancing food choices over time is what counts.
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Breakfast provides the energy needed through an active morning.
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Children who skip breakfast may have trouble concentrating.
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Fast foods supply more fat, salt & calories than good nutrition.
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consumed with green salads.
Fast foods in moderation won’t ruin a healthful diet, especially when
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Replace finger chips with an apple.
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discomfort and you will feel lighter.
Add roughage to your diet – Dalia, Corn etc. will help prevent stomach
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cold.
The golden rule for food safety is to keep hot foods hot & cold foods
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Parents should teach good habits by example.
(B) Good Sleep
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anxiety of Exam.
Insomnia (the inability to fall or stay asleep) can be caused by stress &
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Disturbances of sleep wake cycle during exams.
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If sleep struggles continue, talk them over with your doctor.
(C) Physical activity and Yoga
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undertaken for improving or maintaining physical fitness.
Exercise: planned & structured subset of leisure time physical activity
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body composition and flexibility.
Physical fitness: includes cardio-respiratory fitness, muscle strength,
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badminton, squash, tennis, etc.
Sport: any choice of outdoor game for a brief period. For example
The Psychological approach:
Stress can lead to both anxiety & depression. However, some amount of anxiety is
imperative for good performance.
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Increased disinterest in studies.
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Seeing more TV, sleeping more
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Irritable/ crying / cranky
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Nervous and irritable
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Feelings of frustration and aggression
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Preoccupied, absent minded
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Symptoms like headaches, fainting spells, vomiting
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Wanting to be alone
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Major changes in eating or sleeping habits
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Lack of attention and concentration
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Forgetfulness
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Inability to complete tasks or make study plans
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problems.
Staying out longer, stop communicating with their parents and have health
SOME TIPS FOR STUDENTS TO DEAL WITH STRESS:
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Make realistic study plans
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Assess priorities, assets and difficulties
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Follow a normalized routine atmosphere at home should be recommended.
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To take frequent breaks.
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Not to strip off TV or entertainment and outings.
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Feel comfortable about oneself.
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needs to be discouraged.
That imagining extreme consequences and worst situations is of no use and
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time is not negligible.
It is helpful to make the student see what he can accomplish in the remaining
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members in the school and family.
Constant encouragement and reassurance is essential from all significant
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how to tackle questions and how to manage time.
It is important that the student is clear about how to take the examination,
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should not demean themselves, manage time.
Students tend to magnify failures and try to talk to them out of it. They
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or disinterested in studies.
Advise them to contact the teachers or counselors if they feel low or anxious
2. Psychosomatic Symptoms
These refer to physical symptoms that the student shows but there is no biological
basis for them and the root cause is in psychological factors. The counselor needs to
first look for biological causes of any symptom, only when they are eliminated should
the symptoms be considered as psychosomatic.
Symptoms
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Nagging headaches
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Backache
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Fainting spells.
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Diarrhea/gastric trouble
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Asthmatic attacks
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Breathlessness
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Vomiting
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Feeling tensed and unable to relax
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Writing camps bloomed or
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Absent vision
CERTAIN DO’S
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understand how the anxiety is manifesting in pain.
The counselor needs to help students to see the mind body connection and
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strategies and thus defocus from the pain.
The counselor needs to help the student to develop alternative coping
CERTAIN DONT’S
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problem” or “stop using this as an excuse”. Usually the student is genuinely in
trouble and is not pretending pain.
Do not deny the symptoms with statement like “ you don’t have any physical
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suggesting remedies for the pain.
Do not encourage symptoms by repeatedly enquiring about them or
3. High risk Behavior: Drug abuse, self harm, aggression
Basic Features
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It is behavior that is potentially harmful to self or others.
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commonly used medicines like cough syrups, sleeping pills, painkillers,
without prescription.
Behavior relating to consumption and abuse of psychotropic drugs or
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behavior like Suicide, Wrist slashing, Hitting self, Starving deliberately etc.
Behavior related to smoking and consumption of alcohol. Self-harming
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driving or violence to others in any form.
Harm to others in the form of abusive and aggressive behavior like rash
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No medication for High performance.
Dos & Don’ts
Dos:
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Discourage the behavior.
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Keep communication channels open
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Talk about the negative and long-term effects.
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Teach (quick) relaxation/breathing
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Teach anger management
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Teach to evaluation consequences.
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Talk about the need for sharing this information with parents/teachers.
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essential for early recovery.
Make the child understand that monitoring by parents or counselors is
Don’ts:
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Do no prescribe medication.
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Do not punish or reprimand harshly.
4
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problem needing help.
Do not moralize or made person feel guilty. Help him to think of it as a
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syrup, pills etc. to relieve anxiety or improve concentration. Even shortterm,
temporary relief with the help of these drugs should be highly
discouraged.
Assertively say ‘No’ to student’s demands for taking drugs like cough
4. Handling Suicide
The student who is calling is seriously considering you as the last resort and hence it
is important to be careful and helpful. A lot many suicides are impulsive while others
are well planned. Impulsive students are likely to decide on the spur of the moment.
Hence it is important to buy time.
Indicators for increased chance for suicide
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Withdrawal behavior for few days
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Mention of suicide repeatedly.
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Suicide note
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Disinterest in studies.
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Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
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A history of serious psychological problems.
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A history of impulsive, poorly controlled and destructive behavior.
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A history of continuing academic problems and learning difficulties.
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Adjustment difficulties with family, school, peers etc.
Interventions
1. Periodically, keeping in touch over the phone will reduce the intent of ending
their lives. Counseling needs to be practical and useful.
2. Long lectures with a moralistic tone are not advised. These make the already
depressed student guiltier and his intent stronger.
3. The student should be advised to contact a professional counselor as soon as
possible. If not efforts should be made to encourage him to meet his teachers
or school counselors or talk to his parents. The more he talks about his
problems to various people, he is likely to feel much better.
4. A student who is severely depressed and expresses absolute helplessness
about future is more at risk than a student who talks about casual things.
5. No medicines should be prescribed over the phone.
5. Must Dos for students: For improved concentration, motivation, work
blocks
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Know your concentration span, study with breaks.
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Work out best time for concentration.
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Group study for difficult subjects.
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from previous exams. And work on them.
Do not let previous results discourage you – identify your weak areas
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Time management plan must be made for all subjects.
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your self about your resolution.
Choose a study place with minimum distractions and autosuggest to
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Try to coincide study time with the time, you would be giving an exam.
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comfortable with.
In case of average achievers, master what you know and are
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For low achievers, master the essential information first.
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toughest subject.
Prioritize the workload. Give your best concentration time to the
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repeated or revised is easily forgotten.
Repeat your learnt work so the recall in exam is easy. Work not
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for the things you enjoy – like watching you favorite TV programme,
going out with your friends, or going to play football in the park.
Try to plan your revision time by drawing up a timetable. Build in time
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listen to your favorite CD for an hour after you have finished your
revision.
Give yourself a few treats – pamper yourself with a long hot bath, or
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Relax with what you know before entering the exam hall.
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come to it…options await.
Do not get anxious about the result – cross that bridge when you
6. Must Dos for parents
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guide their children in planning, organizing and setting a timetable.
Student can fail to do well if they fail to cope with stress. Parents should
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kind of motivation and a conducive environment.
To avoid a stress situation for the child the parents must provide right
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a sense of achievement.
Help the child to develop self-discipline self-direction, self-confidence and
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cushioning.
Just good schooling and tuition are not substitutes for emotional
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discouraged by his dropping marks or grades. Do not displace your
anxiety on the child.
Help the child in maintaining his confidence especially when he seems
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capability.
The achievement goals should be realistically set according to the child’s
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Do no mix academic issues with family conflicts.
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with positive statements like, “well done”, “you can do better”, rather than
saying “that was not enough”.
Praise your child when he does well. Encourage the child’s performance
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could be learning problems.
Work out your child’s schedule with him instead of nagging him. There
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Do not harp on previous failures or results.
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to try than to try and fail.
Under achievement may be due to some children believing it is safer not
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to be criticized for being lazy than being considered not good enough.
If achievement expectations are too high then some children would prefer
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Humor relieves tension. Be light and humorous with the child.
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Help him to find a solution.
Try to gain your child’s confidence and discuss his problems with him.
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Exams are not the end of the world.
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won’t pursue this for long.
Accept that expectation for every one to do well is unrealistic, as many

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