Paws for thought

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2012, 12:00am


Happy Friday, Pupketeers! I know a lot of you must be feeling stressed, what with both the A-levels and HKDSE starting. Exam time isn't fun for anyone, so you're not alone!

Stress is our body's way of reacting to a challenge - whether it's an exam, asking someone on a date, or confessing to your mum that you broke her favourite vase.

I asked YP reporters to help me do a bit of internet research on the subject (I have no opposable thumbs, you know). So next time I'm confronted by a Doberman 17 times my size, I'll know where all that stress is coming from, hee hee.

A stressful situation triggers hormones called adrenaline and cortisol in your brain. They speed up your heart rate and breathing. They also prepare your muscles in case you have to do battle or leg it - and fast. This is known as the 'fight or flight' response. Imagine being an early hunter who came face-to face with a sabretooth cat. Or imagine being me when I come up on that big, black, skulking tomcat that freaks me out! It's either fight or flight, trust me.

What you have to learn is how to manage stress so as not to be overwhelmed by it. Stress overload exhausts you physically and mentally. It also weakens your immune system. I guess that's why my knees buckle ahead of big YP social functions!

Here are my tips:

First, learn to relax. When you begin to feel stressed out, sitting at your desk studying, just stop for a moment. Take a deep breath ... hold it ... hold it ... and let it go.

Take five minutes away from your books to stretch, chat with a friend, watch TV or read a novel.

Next, be realistic. It may be a bit late to redo your revision schedule, but make sure you've planned enough time for each topic without limiting sleep time. Sleep is essential both for stress levels and for optimum brain activity!

Remember: not everyone can score 100 per cent on every exam - and that's ok. As long as you revise to the best of your ability, you will be prepared for your exams.

Third, take care of yourself. You may feel eating and exercise are a 'waste of time' - but they're not. You need nutrients for your body and brain to work properly, and exercise can help beat stress.

Finally, 'Don't sweat the small stuff', as the saying goes. Learn to solve little problems as they occur so they don't build up into one mammoth crisis. There will always be little obstacles in life; we just have to learn not to let them get us down. Otherwise, we won't be able to manage big problems.

So, those of you facing exams, we salute you. Take a deep breath, believe in yourself - and good luck!