Exam time not only tests the stress levels of teens studying for their Leaving and Junior Certs, it also plays havoc with the rest of the family, too.
The amount of pressure teenagers feel at this time of year can be pretty huge, and it’s in everyone’s interest to keep it in check.
Good nutrition, lots of sleep and plenty of support from the rest of the family form a good basis when it comes to dealing with exam time.
Obviously, studying is important in the run-up to exams, but as the big day ticks down, the pressure builds and there’s every chance your teen will fall prey to low self-confidence.
Here’s where you can help.
Mind and Body
Try to encourage your child to be active. Walking and swimming are great ways to unwind. A trip to the gym or an hour’s cycling will produce the endorphins that will help reduce stress levels. Even kicking a football about in the garden for a few minutes will help.
Introducing your teen to mindfulness or yoga will also aid their relaxation. Deep-breathing exercises are a great way to keep calm prior to an exam.
It’s best to study for a period of 40-90 minutes, so encourage your student to take a 10-minute break at this point before hitting the books again.
During the exams you could also buy them a favourite magazine or album. Reading and listening to music are great ways for them to relax.
Cheer them up by watching a good movie together on TV, or even bringing them to the cinema for some down time.
Feed their brains
Healthy food is good for the soul, and can be pretty helpful for the brain, too. So, when cooking for teens taking exams, bear in mind that some food types offer a real boost for the brain.
Oily fish – which is high in Omega 3 – helps improve neural function, as do nuts. As well as containing fatty acids, they are also high in iron, which increases mental alertness and the ability to retain information.
Foods that are high in refined carbs, like white bread and pasta, slow the brain and induce lethargy, so be sure to use whole grains when cooking. These will give an energy boost to flagging students.
Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are great for improving memory retention, as are chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans. These legumes are all full of protein, so they will help power the brain so study time should go smoothly.
And it’s not only veg that helps some sweet treats might be just what the doctor ordered. Good quality dark chocolate is great for increasing the brain’s blood flow, thereby boosting alertness and clarity.
Simple, regular treats such as these will help keep the tension at bay. And when the final test is over, why not organise an end-of-exams treat, such as a trip their favourite restaurant or a special day-out to mark the occasion.
It’s a testing time for everyone, so reward yourselves and the very best of luck from everyone here at Aviva!
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