There’s no time!

Everyone stresses out about having so much to do and so little time to do it in. It is but natural that it ramps up during exam times especially. Another aspect is the negativity that might set in the mind. Time management and anxiety are common during such stressful times. Knowing how to deal with these issues is another matter. Here are some of the ways to help to alleviate such fears.

Time management consists of three main points – awareness, organization and commitment. Being aware that there is a problem and committing to getting help is up to the individual. For better organization, try the following.

Create a weekly schedule where each subject/topic is given a certain amount of time. Be realistic and do not sabotage the point of the schedule by setting unrealistic goals. Review after a week and make changes if needed.

Create a study/work area that is free of distractions and has everything needed to facilitate success. Make sure that the TV, phone, etc. are kept away for the duration of the study/work time.

Note down any and all doubts and fears before beginning. Whenever a distracting thought comes to mind, note it down to deal with later. Keep a separate notebook for this.

Instead of looking at the negatives, focus on the positives. Instead of looking at what was not accomplished, look at what was. Then create a plan to address the pending work.

Fear breeds anxiety. Ask yourself two questions – 1. What is the fear? & 2. What is the basis of this fear? Note these down. Be brutally honest. Only you will be looking at the answers so there is no need to be polite. The majority of cases have the fear of not doing well or failing.

Look at the amount of time and effort spent in preparing for the subject. That in itself should stop the fear.

Thought stopping is another technique one can put to good use. As soon as a negative thought enters your head, silently shout “Stop!”. Then relax and repeat a positive statement to yourself till you are calm. This helps to keep anxiety levels down.

Try and see if these techniques help you. At least one or more should fit your need and help alleviate your anxiety during stressful times.

 

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Guidelines for effective studying.

Before you start studying, figure out your schedule so that you are able to give your full concentration on your studies.

Mix up your study schedule by using different methods of revision and also, mix up the subjects so as not to get too bored.

Read to understand what you have read. Sometimes, our brain cheats and we don’t realize it. We read something and think we have absorbed it but we have not. The best way to check is to test yourself on the material. Come up with questions that might be asked in an exam, answer them and see if you get them right. If you can, then you have read to understand. If not, you need to start again.

Be specific about your goal. Do not say study biology but instead say complete chapter 8. That is specific and gives you a goal to accomplish within smaller time frame.

Do away with all distractions and concentrate. It is human nature to get distracted and want to do fun things. Figure out how to create a space where the only goal is to study and nothing else.

If there is something bothering you, write it down to deal with later. If you have to deal with it right away, then go do that. Come back when your mind is ready to study and get down to it.

Always have a reward of some sort when you have accomplished your study goal of the day. Incentives are good for you.

Figure out that schedule and stick to it.

Make sure you come to your study session problem free. Emotional distress can affect the way you perform. Deal with your personal issues before you start.

Take responsibility for yourself. That is the biggest and best thing you can do for yourself. It makes your success or your failure your own.

Concentration and your child.

We all remember our youth and how hard it was to buckle down and study. Agreed, there were some of us who did not find it such a daunting task but that may not be the same for our children. As a parent, even though we would love to be the one to clarify any doubts they may have, it is not always possible. Most of the material that they are studying in schools today is nowhere near what we learnt back in our school days. By default, either they go to a tutor or we have to learn what they are learning.  One way we can help them for sure is by helping them to concentrate. Here are some guidelines that you might want to start instilling in them to make it easier for them in the future.

Divide tasks into manageable parts. Big chunks take more time and it can get frustrating to feel that things are not getting accomplished. Smaller bit are easier to handle and once finished, give that satisfaction which is an incentive to continue.

The human brain can only absorb at a certain rate. Try sticking to 45 minutes of study and five minutes of a break to keep the brain fresh.

If your child feels that their mind is wandering, ask them to physically get up and walk around the room while swinging their arms. This forces the blood to start pumping and gives them a natural adrenaline rush that will stimulate the brain.

Do not study the same thing for hours. Mix it up and, if possible, mix up the style of studying to better absorb the material. This will also break monotony.

Select a place which minimizes distractions. Keep phones, TV, etc. off or away.

Make sure that your child is fed and fresh when they start their study sessions. Give them light, fresh snacks to tide them over during their sessions and always make sure that they have plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Keep an eye on them but do not push too hard. Let them set their own pace and learn what they need to. It has the added advantage of giving them the sense of accomplishment.

The SQ3RT study method.

Everybody is different and their brains are different. So it makes sense that everybody studies differently. A parent needs to be up to date on the material that their child is studying in school and this requires them to study. However, there is a way to optimize study skills for both parent and child.

This particular method for reading textbooks more efficiently is called SQ3RT. This technique raises your efficacy in grasping the material dramatically.

Survey (S) – Briefly survey the chapter by going through the chapter and noting all the divisions, headings, etc. Read the chapter summary to get the overview of the chapter content in your head and create a framework for organizing your material.

Question (Q) – Convert each section heading into a question that needs answering. Guess the questions that you would put into an exam.

Learning

Read (R) – Read the chapter but section by section and answer the questions as you go. Keep an eye on all the words with special fonts, i.e. bold, italicized, underlined, etc. Take your time while you are reading to give your brain a chance to absorb the information.

Recite (R) – After reading each section, ask yourself the questions out loud. Answer them out loud. You may write them down later but make sure you do this out loud first. Hearing something helps your brain retain information.

Review (R) – Go over your material and make sure you have included all the main points. Review in smaller chunks of time between classes or when you waiting for the bus, etc. These smaller more intensive study sessions have proven to be more efficient than a longer session where your brain tends to switch off.

Test (T) – Test yourself on the material every few days. This will show you where you are weak and need more studying to be done.

The more you use this method, the better you get at it and the more you gain from it.

HIV & Asian Teens.

According to a UN research study, the rise of HIV in Asian teens can be linked to the rise in use of dating apps amongst Asian teens. The report, based on two years’ worth of research, showed that the 10 to 19 year olds had the highest increase in HIV. They are also the second highest age group to use paid dating services. Another point focused on was the fact that HIV was growing fastest among the homosexual community in Asia.

My concern is especially about Indian teens because most parents are uncomfortable with imparting any kind of sex education to children. Our cultural setting does not encourage such discussions to take place. In such an environment, it is a matter of serious concern.

Wing-Sei, a Unicef advisor, noted that dating apps created a central network of men which aided the infection to spread rapidly. The study noted trends in regions where the HIV strategy urgently needed to adapt to the rise in use of mobile dating apps. “HIV is a covert issue, it is very hidden. So data is not available.” Another fear is that some of these men are bisexual and transmit HIV to their female partners. The infected women further the spread of the disease by having sex with other men who might not be in the homosexual network.

Also, adolescents are more unlikely to seek treatment, especially the under 18 age group, for fear of being found out and having to explain. Another fear is of persecution. This is another factor in the increased levels of HIV in Asian teens.

Those living with HIV, in the 10 to 19 age group, in Asia and the Pacific have grown to 220,000. Less than half are getting treatment. Death figures for the past decade have been on a steady yearly rise.

Keeping all this in mind and curbing the use of dating apps is one way to help our children. Another way is to sit them down and have an open discussion about sex and the impact it has on their lives, both short term and long term.

What is also needed is for parents to become comfortable with the topic and to educate themselves in order to give appropriate information to their children.

Sex & Teenagers.

In a country where, despite having been the birthplace of the Kama Sutra, the taboo of sex is very high, we neglect our teenagers. As a result, most of our teenagers are left rudderless.

Yes, it is a very confusing and, often, a very embarrassing topic to bring up with your child. However, it is something that needs to be addressed by you, the parent. Living in India, with such a conservative and traditional background, most teens do not have a “safe” adult to speak to when they need it. They turn to either their peers or someone older but outside of the family. This does not always make the one they choose the best option for advice. Another avenue of information is the Internet. Again, not the best place for such advice.

As any normal teenager, when you tell them not to do something, you make it forbidden fruit. If you remember your own youth, you will realize what a temptation it is to your child. As a result of rebellion, they will go and do exactly what you told them not to. It is the nature of their growing up process.

Studies show that teenagers who have sex at an early age run a much greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which can have permanent effects on their bodies.

Experimentation with sex can, and has, often resulted in disastrous consequences. To avoid this as much as possible, you need to start talking openly with your child. Start with small topics and work your way up to the bigger ones. Figure out a method that suits both of you and stick with it. Do not change the way you address issues just because it happens to be a sensitive topic. It will help to drive home the point you are trying to make.

Try out some of these guidelines to establish an open line of communication.

Get comfortable with the topic – this might mean you might need to do a bit of research if there is a particular topic you want to cover.

Privacy – make sure that you have a private place to have the discussion so as to minimize any interruptions. This also gives your child some privacy in their growing years.

Be open – let your child know that you are open to any and all questions and comments they may have.

Do not impose your will – do not allow your ego or your anxiety to deafen you to a difference in opinion.

Spousal support – team up with your spouse to give yourself more support to help your child understand. Be aware that some children are more comfortable with the same gender parent while having such discussions.

Be serious – do not laugh or dismiss a question just because you do not think it is important. This will close more doors than you know.

Listen – do not just hear what they say but actually listen to them.

Most important of all, never let them feel that they do not have your love and support.