Exam Stress

Here we are again, at the familiar yearly crossroad. One with us and our children, and one with stress. We meet yet again. For quite a few of us, it’s not just exam time, but “board” exam time. And how that one word can double the anxiety has always been a mystery. While exam stress in inevitable, it’s important to try and keep it at a bare minimum. Not only will that ensure a happy mood at home, it would actually help students perform better. An anxious mind can never perform as well as a calm one.

 So what do we do to monitor stress levels? Do we ask them to study lesser? Do we ask them to study more so they are better prepared? Maybe the solution isn’t anything to do with studying. Moreover, most of the “studying” bit is completed by now. It’s crucial to look into other aspects now.

 Let’s begin with adequate rest and eating. This is a stressful time for most students and the stress could take a toll on their health. It’s better to prevent that from happening by ensuring children eat all meals well and get a goodnight’s sleep. As basic as it may sound, it’s probably the key to a fresh mind that’s more likely to remember all that’s learnt .If the study hours are fixed, make sure there is little time left for leisure too. One little break can help cut off monotony and help children keep away frustration.

 Maintaining a happy, cheerful environment at home is absolutely essential at a time like this. Books give children enough and more negativity during exams and a positive atmosphere at home can help balance the mood for them.

 Furthermore, it’s advisable to have a chat with your children before the exams begin to assure them that exams are important, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. While saying that to them is important, it’s more important that you believe in that too. Communicate the importance of studying and being successful; but at the same time, establish trust that they will be loved and respected regardless of their results.

This could help in maintaining exam stress as just regular exam stress, without it transforming into fear and anxiety.

 Encourage meditation of any form for few minutes in the day. You could also practice meditation with them to keep them motivated and it could act as your time spent with them during a stressful phase.

 During exams, it’s only fair to restrain from comparing your child with other children or from talking about expectations form these exams. The fact remains that most of the studying has been done and such talks could only intimidate the children, thereby making them anxious again.

 Having said that, of course revision is crucial and children must be encouraged to do so. Analyzing past papers, revising all topics and making to-do lists in a day could help them organize their studying. Organized studying usually leads to organized thoughts; hence helping them stays calm.

 Lastly, we all must remember that exams come and go every year, millions of people across the world write them, we have all written them; it’s a routine process that of course should be given importance, but only to a certain extent. Majority of the exam stress is caused by the hype around the topic, not as much by the studying.

 How you react to exams and exam related stress is exactly what will reflect from your child. So, before trying to correct their actions and help them, let’s ensure we aren’t giving the wrong signals.

Here’s to another year of the dreaded exams with the hope that with each passing year, the anxiety levels are only decreasing.

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What is the secret?

Sometimes we look at couples; happy couples and wonder what’s working for them. How is it that they don’t have issues? How have they lasted so long? Well, the truth is every couple has issues. Its how they deal with them is what matters. By just practicing healthy relationship habits, they keep problems way. As simple as it may seem, it’s not as easy to implement every day. But if we did, happy couples wouldn’t be rare to spot.

First of all, happy couples know how to have fun. As simple as that – they have fun! They don’t take themselves too seriously. Dates, laughter and fun – a part of their routine.

Having said that, they also take care of their finances, plan cleverly for their future and take any step to ensure a secure future. Regular discussions about financial topics helps keep away financial stress at a later date.

Moving over to one of the most important factors not just in a marriage, but it any relationship – communication. For any two people, assumption can create misunderstandings and when it comes to marriage, it can truly create havoc. It’s always best to just talk. Yes, just talk instead of assuming and subsequently concluding. Reading is a great hobby, but reading minds should never be one. It’s advisable that you don’t do it and don’t expect your spouse to do so as well.

Discussion leads to resolving and criticism leads to frustration. The right path of communication will lead you to the right goal, or do we say, ‘couple goals’?

Then of course, let’s talk about the dreaded villain in marriage – comparison; something that happy couples rarely encounter. We have grown up listening to ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’. But do we understand the implications? Especially in a marriage? Every other couple or every other home seems perfect but as they say, if people were asked to put all their problems on a table and were asked to pick another person’s issues, they would in all probability pick their own and leave.

With Hollywood and Bollywood portraying unrealistic expectations from marriage and love, it’s without doubt, difficult, but essential to keep those thoughts away.

Similarly, it’s best to focus on your own marriage and work on it. Let’s not forget, marriage is and will always be – WIP – work in progress.

Marriage is a sacred bond, and each couple must respect the sanctity of the relationship. Every couple must refrain from discussing their problems with everyone around them and certainly must stop themselves from complaining chronically about their partners. It’s best not to wash dirty linen in public.

Lastly, but quite importantly in today’s generation, happy couples don’t go by stereotypical duties that a husband and wife ought to perform. They create boundaries for themselves and set their own set of rules. There of course is a possibility that few couples prefer the old school way of living and that could do wonders too. The key here is to identify what’s best for your relationship and something that works for you need for work for another couple and vice versa.

The only goal should be to find the key and unlock the door to a blissful marriage.

The above blog is based on the following article –

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/11-things-happy-couples-dont-do_b_7348012.html

 

 

Love yourself – easier said than done

A topic that is being by promoted by all, and certainly by Prerana Academy. But how easy is it to implement the same? Do we all really understand the concept of loving ourselves?

Loving the way you look, loving your name or loving your everyday life – is that loving yourself? It may be a part of the process, but loving yourself is a wholesome process that makes you feel complete and most importantly reduces the need for validation from the outside world.

First, let’s take a small test to understand the intensity of our love towards ourselves — Do you criticize or judge yourself? Do you call yourself stupid, fat or a loser? Have you ever made a mistake for which you felt years of guilt?

– Do you put conditions on loving yourself and finding joy by depending on external factors?

– Do you know who you really are, what you feel, and what you want?

-Do you allow people to have the power over you, perhaps by affecting your mood and your opinion of yourself?

If you answered in affirmation to most of the above questions, then this Valentine’s Day, it’s time to put yourself first!

We often do things for others, sometimes out of choice and sometimes out of an obligation. But what’s the objective? Validation, perhaps. Is it wrong, one may ask? Certainly not. But isn’t it time we stopped relying on others for substantiation? Isn’t it time we believed in ourselves and showed some love?

So what does loving yourself mean? It’s much more than a favourite meal, a favourite film or some “me time” at the spa. It’s about doing things that are good for your body and soul, staying away from negativity and surrounding yourself with people who you are happy to be around. It’s about making tough choices, perhaps, giving up something that’s not good for your body or getting out of a toxic relationship.

It’s a constant, conscious process; a process that helps one stay connected to oneself at all times, understanding all that one is feeling and aiming to be a wholesome person.

So, what can one do to fall in love (or more in love) with oneself? Here are some tips –

  • Accept yourself – This is who you are, and if you don’t accept that, you can’t expect the others to do so.
  • Mirror work – It’s not always about being positive; it’s about being honest and real with you. Start off by looking into the mirror and saying – I love myself or I am willing to love and respect myself.
  • Self-love exercise – If you are having difficulty experiencing the whole feeling of self-love, you could write down instances when you felt proud of yourself or when you felt happy with your actions.
  • Ask for help – Probably the most important step of all – ask for help. When you need directions on the street, you stop and ask. Similarly, it’s essential to realize when you need help and ask for the same.

So this Valentine’s day, prioritize yourself. Remember, your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship.

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People suffering with anxiety and you!

Anxiety – the word now used more commonly than before, strikes a feeling of sympathy, generally aimed towards the one suffering from it. But what about the one who’s living with a person suffering from anxiety?

One can safely say, they fight their own battles too. While it’s near impossible to empathize and understand what a person with anxiety goes through, it’s important to get into the field, do your own research and be well-equipped to handle your partner, friend of family member dealing with anxiety. Not doing your background research is like going on a mission without a map. Not knowing what route to take and how to broach the subject might often lead to making the already anxious person feel worse about it.

However hard it is for people to comprehend, the fact remains that people suffering with anxiety have no control over their emotions and when they have an anxiety attack, it’s not something they predicted, or something they could have stopped. It usually is triggered by a stressor, and in most cases, there isn’t just one stressor.

They could wake up one morning feeling as fit as a fiddle and mid-day could have the worst anxiety attack and you, as an observer, may just not be able to get why. But it’s ok; the goal is not to reason out the attack, but to handle the situation well and comfort the person.  Easier said then done; is what people who have tried doing so in the past may say. Well, yes. But there are certain tips to tackle such situations.

Firstly, understand what anxiety is. Without knowing the magnitude and intensity of anxiety, it’ll be challenging to try and help your partner/friend. And who better than them to explain the same to you? Sit down and aim for a heart to heart chat about the subject while keeping an open mind. It also helps them feel acknowledged.

Then, while you have gained some insights about their situation, try and identify out the triggers or stressors in their life and help them steer away from it. Of course, that’s not always going to be possible and that’s when you might have to keep calm even when you don’t feel it. Because the last thing they need is another anxious person at that point.

However, when you do live with a person suffering form anxiety, you anticipate certain situations and in case of one, always be prepared with a possible solution. It could be their favorite food, music or just giving them their space that might help a person during an anxiety attack. Trying to keep your own set of emotions aside while dealing with an anxious person is advised, as that makes getting out of such a situation easier for them and for you.

Lastly, but most importantly, push your friend/partner/relative to see a therapist. However close you may be to him/her, however cooperative you may be and however comfortable he/she is with you, you might not be able to help them overcome anxiety. Help them see the benefits of therapy and if need be, offer your assistance in any possible way. Showing them you understand, not treating them like there is something wrong and helping them see that it can all be dealt with – are actions that will lead them to a secure, happy place.

https://www.mensxp.com/relationships/relationship-advice/42270-6-ways-to-be-there-for-your-girlfriend-if-she-is-suffering-from-anxiety.html

 

School, school, which school do we choose?

With the process of admissions starting again this year, parents looking for schools for their kids tend to feel extremely stressed. In a city like Bangalore with each locality offering an array of schools to choose from, parents can be left feeling quite confused.

Opinions from family members, online reviews and past experiences; all playing on one’s mind while making such an important decision can contribute to be a truly exasperating experience. How much do you consider? How much do you compromise on? Yes, you most probably will have to compromise on few things which are ok because there is no such thing as a perfect school.

Let’s list down some pointers that might help confused parents find a path to the right school.

  1. Distance – One of the main factors to be considered is the distance. While some parents refuse to cross that 5-km radius, some are ready to travel far and find an apt school for children. It’s important to understand what’s important to you and your partner and what might benefit your child in the long run.
  2. Board – Educate yourself on all 4 boards schools offer today and understand what might be apt for your child. It’s crucial to remember that the Board doesn’t decide the success of your child’s future. It’s merely a guiding path. Choosing a school based on the board is usually better than going in for a school that has a famous name.
  3. Strength of the class – Smaller the class, greater the learning. Think about a teacher’s attitude towards 50 students and the same towards 20. That tiny difference can make all the difference in your child’s attitude towards learning. However, there’s a possibility that your child may learn more in a bigger group. Again, this is subjective to every child.
  1. Study or play? – A question you need to first ask yourselves before making a decision for your child. Do you believe in more number of hours spent on learning inside the classroom or outside? And honestly, there is nothing right or wrong, it’s a personal choice. But once you are clear, you could accordingly pick a school
  1. Culture of the school – Convent style? Conservative? Competitive? Sheltered? Now while a combination of all would be ideal, we all know it’s unlikely. So the first step is to assess your own values, family background and priorities and what kind of environment you would want your child to grow up in.

Furthermore, having a look at the school diary adds value to your decision to understand how the activities for the year have been planned out. It helps us to understand the structure and organization of the institute. Feedback from old students could be taken into account, however, cannot be taken at face value as it would be lined with their personal experiences.

The penultimate rule is to accept the fact that all children are not alike. If one child performs well at an international school, it’s possible that another one may not. And to respect the uniqueness of each child is perhaps why we have so many choices today. So reflecting upon one’s own values and priorities is the key to finding the right school for your children.

Lastly, it’s essential to remind ourselves that children are usually more flexible than adults and might take to any school better than we expect them to. Each school will come with its pros and cons and there is no magical formula for a perfect school. So once you have considered the above points and made a decision, let the fear go and make sure your children’s schooling is a happy experience for them as well as for you.

The blog is based on the following article –

http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/opinion/you/opinion/you/parentry-how-do-i-choose-the-right-school/articleshow/62512195.cms

 

 

Everything has to be planned!!! ….or maybe not.

Are you sure?

A question asked many a time, but more often than not, we are forced to answer in negation. So what happens if one isn’t sure; one isn’t certain of what’s going to happen next? Is that uncertainty dangerous, harmful or a drawback? The famous poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, in fact, urged us to accept uncertainty with open arms and move on with life. So for all those who are trying hard to achieve certainty in all fields in life, there’s some good news. Philosophers believe strongly that uncertainty can add real value to life. It’s important, they say, to cherish each moment and let life surprise you at times.

We are all brought up being taught to be sure; sure about what we like, what we don’t; sure about  who we want to be with; sure about what we want to do. Striving towards certainty in everything is almost inbuilt in us. And when things don’t go as planned or uncertainty creeps in, we feel uneasy, incomplete and scared. But what we forget is that what unfamiliar situations in life teach us, a familiar one would never be able to do so. If we are looking at any kind of transformation in life, we have to give ourselves up to some amount of uncertainty. Dealing with an unsettling feeling and growing out of it can teach us the most.

Let’s take a simple example – if you planned a boat ride, you would know exactly where your boat is headed, for how long and your final destination. But if you let your boat pave a path for you, you just may end up on a whole new island. Of course, while on that boat if you panic about not knowing where you are going you may just drown. The key is to be strong in unchartered waters and you might finally sail into a sea of happiness. Similarly, once you get past the fear of not knowing everything, you could be in for a surprise – a new you!

We have often heard, life is about the present. But how many of us actually practice it? It’s important to divert our attention to the right things. Instead of trying to plan everything and stressing about it not happening at times, we’d rather develop strength and patience to deal with plans not going our way. Subsequently, we might be able to actually savour each moment of life while carrying a bit of suspense with us.

This blog is based on the following article –

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/The-value-of-uncertainty/articleshow/8862361.cms?

 

 

Taboo no more!

Taboo, taboo taboo! We like to label everything we don’t want to deal with as taboo. And one such topic is counselling. The idea of “pulling themselves together” is still so strange to people. People wait to be rescued, but the point is to rescue oneself! The social stigma and the sense of shame attached with counselling prohibit people from actually understanding counselling.

 Let’s keep it simple. You have fever or you are down with flu, what would you do? Worry about it? Hide it from everyone around you? Try to look it up on Google and figure out a solution? Let it bother you all week? None of those right? You would immediately walk to your family doctor and grab some medicines. So simple! Now run the same set of questions in your mind when it comes to stress, anxiety or depression. We all know the result, don’t we?

 So trying to understand why this taboo exists in our country is futile. What’s essential now is to get past it and understand why counselling is a necessity! It’s not solely something for the ‘misbehaving’ children, not meant for the ‘depressed’ lot and certainly not a last resort. Counselling is a gradual process of strengthening oneself, being mindful and enhancing quality of relationships through self-awareness.

 The society we live in is full of stress, anxiety and rage. We can’t possibly run away from it, but we can prepare ourselves to deal with it efficiently and not let it get in the way of our happiness. Be it marriage, or child-related issues; work-life problems or personal insecurities; anything can be dealt with. There is a solution and people just need to learn to ask for help. Asking leads to finding responses and talking leads to resolving. But ultimately, the step has to be taken by us.

 Counselling is not an overnight process and requires commitment and dedication, but is that too much to ask for when the only one benefitting from this is you? We all need someone to talk to, someone who could listen to us unconditionally and someone who would advise but yet help us find our own paths in the journey of life. Hardships can’t be avoided, but we sure can develop the skill to handle them and emerge victorious.

 As the late pioneer American social worker Virginia satir had stated – the problem is never the problem; coping is! The art of learning to cope leads us to a more enriching and fulfilling life. The sooner you develop this art, the more grateful you’ll be; to yourself!

 The blog is based on the following article –

http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/counselling-a-necessity-not-a-taboo

 

A new year = A new you!

As each year passes by, people reminisce the months gone by and set out for a new adventure that the New Year has to offer. Most likely, you will see people around you making resolutions to stay fit, exercise and eat healthy. While that’s great, what’s worrying is the lack of focus on mental health. With a package of diets, gyms and jogs versus one of high self-esteem, happiness and confidence; the latter seems to lose year after year. Things would be simpler if people realized the two were inter-connected and if people made an effort to target mental health, physical health would come trotting behind.

If counsellors and psychotherapists were visited as often as gym trainers and nutritionists, the world would be not just a fitter, but a happier place too. Mental health is central to every part of our lives; the people around us, our work and our emotions. And this year, strive to achieve better mental health, and these tips may help you:

 – Stop dieting and eat healthy  – It’s not about a diet, it’s about a lifestyle. A diet leads to cravings, higher levels of frustration and typically doesn’t result in permanent weight loss. The more you focus on a diet, the more it displays lack of confidence and poor body image issues which subsequently lead to depression low self esteem. It’s important to understand that the connection between healthy eating and a happier self is strong

  • Join a group and give up your screens – Social isolation is believed to be as injurious to health as smoking. With social media paving a path for people to stay put behind their screens and avoid people, actual interaction between people is becoming rare, thereby leading to loneliness, depression and anxiety. Share experiences with people, not with Facebook; share meals with friends, not photos of the same on Instagram and most importantly share your lives with people around you!
  • Exercise – If physical health depends on mental health, then it works vice versa too. You need to move your body to keep your mind active. Happiness is the goal and if endorphins (the little happy hormones released during exercise) help you get there, why not try it?
  • Seek help – And of course, lastly and if one may say so, most importantly, seek help! Only those who ask for help get it and only those who try to resolve problems succeed. If we rush to a doctor when we sneeze, then why do we hesitate to do so when we are feeling low mentally? Talking leads to resolving and seeking help leads to finding it.

These are really simple ways of leading a happy, stress-free and healthy life. It’s time we take to these measures before we are left with no choice but to look at more complicated ones! Let’s make this year a year to count in every little way possible. And remember, mental and physical health are two sides of the same coin; the coin being you! To a new year and a new you!

This blog is based on the article –
The best New Year’s resolutions focus on mental health, not physical health

Women-let them fly!

Recently, at an event, Priyanka Chopra gave an inspiring speech about women breaking the glass ceiling. The video has been doing the rounds on social media, but how many women are able to do it – is a million dollar question. How practical is it for women to implement such ideas in our country?

Suicide of IIT scholar Manjula Devak in May 2017 shows us the emptiness of such thinking. Manjula Devak was a 28 year old independent woman who committed suicide (perhaps because of marital issues regarding freedom to do as she pleased) in Delhi.  Dowry harassment and lack of support from her family led her to take such an extreme step. So where is the equality, if qualified women like her in the end succumb to an issue like dowry? She is just one recent example, but we all know the numbers are shockingly high.

However harsh it may seem the fact is that ideology of equality is restricted to an extremely small number of families in our country; while the rest are seated comfortably engulfed by a strong set of old-fashioned beliefs.

Taking the example of Devak; self-sufficient, independent and educated – yet succumbed to the pressure of dowry harassment and family issues. If even someone like her is not encouraged to stand up for herself and break barriers, how do we expect women in rural areas to do so? How do we ever expect such a huge population to become stronger?

Things are changing, people are moving towards newer ideas, innovations and boundaries; but are they willing to let go of the antiquated practices? Sadly, the answer here is clear – only a handful of them!

Women are often caught between two ends – old restraints and new ambitions. To avoid such tragedies, we are left with two options – either we don’t give women the wings to fly or we let them fly without building glass ceilings for them!

Times have changed and so have the values. Marriage, especially arrange marriage, is not as simple as it used to be. Women are far more independent and display lesser tolerance to injustice. When parents do get daughters married, they must be willing to support their daughter irrespective of the fact that they are married. The old thinking of ‘once a girl gets married she has to live and die at husband’s place’ must change. The parents must continue to care for their daughter and what best way to do that than giving her permission to free herself from an abusive marriage? The right kind of support from parents at the right time can not only help save a life, but also help them start a new life….. a more content and meaningful life.

While we talk about breaking the glass ceiling, we could also take a minute and think about why the glass ceilings are even being created in the first place. Can’t the sky be the limit for men and women alike? Maybe it can, and it soon will. Carrying that hope in our hearts, let’s pledge to change in every little way to make the world a safer place for women – safe from their own fears!

The blog is based on the article –

https://scroll.in/article/839491/behind-the-suicide-of-an-iit-scholar-in-delhi-a-struggle-between-new-ambitions-and-old-restraints

When a HUG becomes a BUG!

Recently, a student from Kerala was expelled from his school for having hugged a girl for way too long in the school campus. Yes, you read that right; expelled for hugging!

What the student’s claim to be an innocent congratulatory hug, the school has identified as an explicit ‘sexual’ act in the school premises, thereby expelling, defaming and demeaning the two involved. As Shashi Tharoor rightly tweeted – By sexualizing innocent affection between friends and fellow students, we are creating self-conscious hypocrites trained to suppress their feelings. This really gets us thinking – where are we headed? Perhaps backwards?

It seems like stressing out the kids with overwhelming chunks of matter to be learnt year after year didn’t suffice; hence the education system is now keen on aiming at demoralizing them from all perspectives. Discipline sure is essential, in any school and in all forms. However, to what extent can a school go to maintain discipline at the cost of compromising on a child’s entire life ahead? With board exams up against them next year, the children feel lost and helpless, and are unable to believe a casual hug between them caused this uproar.

What messages are being passed on to children across the country? Co-ed schools are a good way for girls and boys to understand each other, learn to co-exist and of course, make friends too! Perhaps as a school, their duty is to keep “such” activities away from the campus, but in case of such an event, is this the way to handle it? Where is the sensitivity? Dealing with students of that age is so delicate. It can make or break them And with the news being blown out of proportion, we already know where this is headed. With technology and education moving ahead, the moral compassing is only pushing us backwards!

Building strong character, high self-esteem and confidence in children is way more important than teaching them to learn book after book. And by dealing with a “hug” this way, the former is far from being achieved. They are going to walk out as weak, demoralized, humiliated children. So one can only imagine what kind of adults they would be.

These kids are the next generation. And instead of holding their hands and guiding them in the right direction, they are being held and dragged out of their own schools, again, just for a hug! It’s time we change more than just our education system. It’s time we change our perspective and our outlook towards children, especially adolescents. And rest assured, with the right guidance, adolescents and teenagers would step into adulthood with more clarity and stronger character.

This blog is based on the article –

https://www.google.com.sg/amp/www.deccanchronicle.com/amp/nation/current-affairs/201217/just-a-friendly-hug-school-made-it-sexual-says-expelled-kerala-student.html

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