Officials from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are asking secondary students who will be taking their final secondary exams this week to overcome stress and anxiety associated with COVID-19 pandemic.

According to officials from HMC, all government organisations have taken the necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safety of students, stating that all efforts are taken to ensure that students are in a safe environment and that stringent health and safety measures are put in place.

The anxiety (that) some students will face during the exam is normal, and it is especially normal during this current situation. Mild anxiety can actually help some students focus, but extreme stress, fear and discomfort, which can include negative thoughts and physical symptoms, may affect student performance and can be especially detrimental, says Dr Majid Al Abdulla, Chair of Psychiatry at HMC.

Difficulties in focus and the ability to store information but not retrieve it can have severe negative consequences.

He said that the stress some students may experience can be especially pronounced this year due to the current circumstances. It isn’t unexpected that many students will be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative news that surrounds the increasing number of positive cases. While it is important to accept the circumstances and do everything possible to prevent the spread of the virus, students and their parents should feel comfort in knowing that all steps have been taken to ensure the health and safety of students.

Healthcare teams will be present at examination facilities to ensure strict infection prevention measures are being taken.

He recommends that students try to keep a positive mindset, noting that negative self-talk and thoughts can quickly spiral and cause stress and anxiety. He also assured that government organisations are working hard to protect and keep the students safe.

He said that students should try to incorporate relaxation exercises into their day, including deep breathing, meditation, and muscle stretching exercises that can aid relaxation. These exercises can help students remain calm and also boost their self-confidence. Praying can also help students feel more centred and psychologically strong.

Dr Al Abdullah also stressed the importance of family in creating a tranquil environment for students at home. Family members should offer students emotional support.

HMC Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Ahmad Al Amin offered the following tips for students:

  • Focus on your studies and avoid paying attention to rumours and bad news about COVID-19, especially from unreliable sources on social media platforms
  • Manage your time effectively by establishing a schedule for studying and take 10-minute breaks to boost your energy and concentration.
  • Avoid staying up late and ensure you sleep at least eight hours a day. Having enough sleep is important for maintaining your health and strengthening your immune system.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoid excessive consumption of foods that are rich in fats and sugars. Don’t skip your breakfast as it can help boost your concentration. It is also important to exercise regularly, as physical activity can help stimulate the learning process.
  • Avoid overconsumption of stimulants, such as tea and coffee, as they can lead to insomnia and poor concentration during exams.
  • Follow all COVID-19 precautionary measures. Avoid greeting your friends with handshakes or kisses and always maintain a distance of at least two metres between you and other people.
  • Wear a face mask at all times and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Stay calm.

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