Concerns about exam stress has prompted Fraser Health to send out an urgent warning for teens and young adults to take care of themselves as they study for finals.
Thousands of post-secondary students across Metro Vancouver, including in the Tri-Cities, are finishing up exams or planning for finals in preparation for graduation.
The good news is, you don’t have to struggle alone.
“It’s not uncommon for students to feel anxious or more pressure as exam time comes around. If their regular coping mechanisms and routines aren’t working, they shouldn’t be afraid to get assistance if they don’t feel well,” said Dr. Kofi Bonnie, clinical nurse educator for Fraser Health.
“A trained health professional can help students better understand their experience, share additional coping strategies and assist in ruling out symptoms which may require immediate medical support.”
Stress and anxiety during exam time can result in problems of varying intensity, including anxiety, irritability, decreased energy, appetite changes, sleep disturbance, social withdrawal and digestive problems.
Fraser Health recommends the following advice for dealing with a stressful time.
• Get a good night’s sleep: Getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night can improve your learning, concentration, memorization and information processing, plus aid decision making. Establish a regular sleep routine, preferably in a cool and dark room and limit things like nicotine, coffee and alcohol before bed.
• Maintain a healthy diet: Paying attention to what you put in your body provides the required energy for optimum performance. There is a tendency for students to skip meals or indulge in unhealthy options because there’s so much going on when juggling multiple exams. Implement a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and grains.
• Don’t forget to move: Exercise is a great stress buster, especially in situations where stress levels are known to be high, and it leads to the brain producing endorphins, which help people manage stress. If you don’t have time to go to the gym for a full workout, then go for a walk to stretch your legs instead and also take a mental break.
• Avoid the use of substances: Cannabis, stimulants and other substances can be tempting when you’re experiencing stress, but they may have unfavourable consequences, such as triggering and exacerbating mental-health symptoms.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, isolated and alone, or just want someone to talk to, the Fraser Health Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day by calling 604-951-8855.