The board exams are just a few weeks away. Stay away from the Internet, take time for systematic revision, pay attention to your health, and set realistic goals.

I get headaches every day.

I can’t eat. I feel like puking when I look at food.

I haven’t slept well in months.

I feel my friends are always ahead of me and they have covered more syllabus than me. And that puts me into a panic.

I am blank. I don’t remember a thing of what I’ve studied.

Welcome to the Overboard Over Boards Club! All of these are signs of stress and distress. And if you manifest even one of them, it is time to buck up and counsel yourself a bit.

Most of you are stressed at this period of your life and doctors and counsellors have a field day. But they needn’t. You can beat the stress all by yourself.

Firstly, stop thinking you are stressed. And stop chanting the stress mantra every day. By constantly thinking and talking about it, you are only reinforcing your stress. Remember repetition and auto suggestion are very powerful mind tools. If you don’t have anything positive to say to yourself, at least refrain from negative chanting.

Then, put away the mobile and your other gadgets. Deactivate Facebook, Orkut, Whatsapp, Twitter, Viber, and the rest. Relaxation and distraction are two different things. Gadgets and technology are addictive. Once you are glued to them, you just can’t get away. And when you notice the time you’ve spent on them, you will panic and add to your stress.

Next, don’t worry about what your friends are doing. Constant updates and feverish comparisons can drive you crazy. Your friends may sound like they’re super cool cats. They might solve in a jiffy that nightmare of a sum that had you gnawing away at your pencil for the last two hours. That’s ok. The less you follow their status updates of exam preparedness, the more relaxed you will be. You only need to keep account of your own progress. Talk to friends only when you need help.

Don’t whine about the amount of stuff you have to cram. Full 900 pages of chemistry and 1,200 of Biology and all that. Millions of your peers are doing the same. Millions have done it year after year. It is obviously doable. If you relax, you will do it with ease.

Don’t imagine that this year of all years will be the worst ever examination. That nobody could have had it any worse. Every crop of Board examinees has felt this way. By imagining yourself to be some sort of a special victim, you are only stressing yourself.

And do you feel blank at times? As if you can’t remember anything that you’ve studied? Even that’s fine. That’s just you panicking. Your brain’s information retrieval system doesn’t crash like your computer. You will get the answers back when you need them.

Health focus

Headaches, fever, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, irritability, gloom and depression, rage, nightmares — all are manifestations of your stress. Stress is all about how you deal with an unusual situation. If you don’t see the unusual situation as the world’s biggest disaster since the tsunami, you will feel more competent about handling it. Planning and organising your work, tracking time and your progress, and being realistic can make your exams less tedious than it is now.

Remember always that an exam or any other kind of challenge in life is mostly a mind game. If you can prepare yourself mentally for it, you’ve won half the battle. And that leaves only the other half to tackle. Looks easy now, doesn’t it?