How to Tackle Mental Health Issues Before and during UPSC Civil Services exam

UPSC examinations are among the most competitive in the country, necessitating extensive preparation and mental fortitude. Many students’ mental health often suffers as a result of this. One may maintain their composure and avoid becoming overwhelmed by pressure by following the appropriate procedures, getting to the bottom of underlying problems, taking measures, and maintaining a balanced schedule with exercise and a balanced food. This is simply a test after all. 

Need to tackle mental health issues

  • Competitive examination candidates study hard and for a longer period of time. They could have a variety of health issues. 
  • Students could also experience long-lasting problems with their physical and mental health.
  • Every day, a considerable amount of time is wasted, and over the course of a month, a large quantity of time is lost. Although it’s not always lost time, you must skip some of the unimportant details if you want to succeed. 
  • Even the brightest lights in the room sometimes have trouble keeping their minds calm and collected while they study for competitive exams like the UPSC exam and admission tests.

Health effects on Aspirants

  • For examinations like the UPSC – Exam, the level of competition and the pressure to prepare may quickly send someone into a downward spiral of stress, anxiety, and even depression.
  • The majority of students, both sexes, experience eating disorders as they get ready for exams. Extreme actions, feelings, and attitudes related to food and weight are called eating disorders.
  • Poor Nutrition and Lack of Exercise: Students who study a lot don’t get enough nutrition and get pale. It has a negative impact on their general health.
  • Symptoms of eating disorder include:
    • Anorexia nervosa
    • Bulimia nervosa
    • Binge-eating disorder
  • When left untreated, these diseases can lead to major physical and mental concerns that pose a risk to life. Many students do not think they have a problem with their eating issue and do not seek therapy for it. 
  • If not adequately treated, eating disorders can have a major impact on a person’s health and lead to serious problems like heart disease, renal failure, stunted development, loss of female menstruation, and reproductive system failure.
  • Due to the emphasis on “continuous testing,” students may also experience mental health problems including anorexia and other disorders. They experience severe stress. While preparing for examinations, students sometimes have digestive issues. Studies have demonstrated that studying stress might exacerbate problems.
  • Stress is also a common factor in many other gastrointestinal problems conditions, such as
    • Chronic heartburn (or gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD)
    • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
    • Indigestion/dyspepsia,
    • Bloating
    • Constipation.
  • The most prevalent mental condition among students preparing for exams is anxiety disorders. When worry disrupts your capacity to function, creates a great deal of stress, and fills you with terror, this is when anxiety disorders develop.
  • According to several research studies, prolonged sitting can raise your risk of developing obesity and the metabolic syndrome, a group of diseases marked by high blood pressure, diabetes, extra body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
  • It is occasionally noted that students taking competitive exams experience depression. It can occasionally result in additional symptoms or even suicide. Candidates who suffer from depression, a common but dangerous disorder, report feeling hopeless and removed from reality.
  • Candidates may show symptoms like;
    • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
    • Change in appetite or weight
    • Slowed thinking or speech
    • Loss of interest in activities or social gatherings
    • Fatigue, loss in energy
    • Sleeplessness
    • Feelings of guilt or anger over past failures
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Indecisiveness
    • Anger or frustration for no distinct reason

Strategy to Tackle mental health issues before and during UPSC Civil Services exam

The best strategy is to use counselling to address mental health issues while studying for exams. Many institutions provide applicants access to their free and private in-house counselling service, which is provided by trained counsellors and psychotherapists. Academic advisers are in a perfect position to help students find mental health options even if they may not have formal counselling training. Students may self-report behavioural difficulties, or advisors may notice behaviours that might point to underlying mental health problems.

  1. Proper Rest is Necessary: Sleeping sufficiently is the secret to happiness, assuming there is such a thing. With enough sleep, consciousness and thinking are improved. A 90-minute sleep cycle is typical. The brain typically needs 4-5 cycles, or 6 to 7:30 hours of sleep, to completely recover and be prepared for the next day. Avoid doing anything stimulating right before bedtime, such as studying, watching TV, playing games, etc. This facilitates the body’s transition into sleep state.
  2. Have Faith in Yourself: You can never experience the flavour of achievement in life if you just have questions and concerns about your own talents. You should remain confident in yourself and trust that you are prioritising your efforts correctly, such as acquiring study materials, receiving instruction as needed, creating an examination strategy, and meticulous preparation.
  3. Do not ponder over the previous paper: You still have a strong opportunity to pass the UPSC test, despite having many things on hold. Nobody studies the best possible amount for this exam. Depending on how you write it on that piece of paper. If the harder paper arrives, it won’t only affect you; it will come as a complete surprise to everyone. Success is determined by efforts, not by outcomes. Being the best is not as crucial as just doing your best.
  4. Set Realistic Goals: Establish your exam objectives and plan your preparation accordingly. Do not force yourself deeper into the stress and anxiety-filled cave. As much as you can, try to solve the problems from last year and write notes for each one for better comprehension.
  5. Take care of your health: Take good care of your health when preparing for or taking the CSE because a healthy mind can only exist in a healthy body. Eat healthily, get adequate rest, and move your body by going on a walk, doing yoga, or playing your favourite sport. Establish a routine of sleeping in and rising at the same time each day. Healthy people use their time more efficiently and are less prone to mental illnesses. Consider sound physical condition a requirement for effective CSE performance.
  6. Increase Your Concentration Power: Due to their high levels of anxiety, the majority of students complain that they struggle to focus on their studies. Take a moment to relax and consider your accomplishments and life objectives if you have a similar feeling. Setting a time-based goal is also advised for the applicants in order to get better results.
  7. Engagement with NGOs and Charities: Engage with NGOs and charitable organisations to gain a better understanding of the need for social welfare. This is a great method to not only relax after a long day of studying but also to be quietly reminded of the actual purpose of UPSC, which is to improve the world a little bit more than it currently is.
  8. Ensuring a Balanced Diet with Regular Exercise: A healthy diet for everyone must be balanced. In order to preserve health throughout the test time, a healthy diet becomes extremely crucial. Foods heavy in fat, sugar, and caffeine are more harmful than beneficial. One becomes energetic, irritated, and occasionally even moody when they consume too much of any of these. A healthy diet, eaten at regular intervals, helps keep the mind steady, as does little exercise. “A healthy mind dwells in a healthy body,” as the saying goes.
  9. Know When to Get Help: Some people feel much better when exams are over, but that is not the case for all folks. A tell-tale sign when you need help is when a person’s mood is low even after the exams are over. Anxiety or low mood when severe, persists, and interferes with everyday life. Seeing a psychiatrist is a good place to start. Always remember going to a psychiatrist doesn’t mean you have gone mad and need to go to a mental hospital.
  10. Be flexible during exams: Be accommodating during test season. Do not worry about unfinished domestic tasks or disorganised bedrooms when you are spending the entire day rewriting. It is OK to put off a few tasks while you devote yourself to preparation. Not that you get to have fun all day while studying as a result. Exams also don’t go on forever. After the exam, you can always finish up any unfinished business.
  11. Meditation: Meditation is one of the most underutilised forms of self-therapy. Historically, using mindful meditation techniques to manage anxiety has had excellent benefits. Focusing may be challenging at times, especially in extreme circumstances. You can make wise judgments and maintain composure through mediation.
  12. It is Normal to Feel Anxious: Never forget that feeling a little terrified is normal. Exam anxiety is a typical response. The trick is to channel these nerves for good. You may, for instance, practise papers in exam-like settings or even visit the exam site in advance. Stress is much reduced when one faces their anxieties and follows through on these actions rather than putting them off.
  13. Make Time for Treats: Reward yourself for finishing your revision and passing all of your exams. Rewards do not have to be substantial or pricey. Simple activities like cooking their preferred meal or watching TV can be included. Celebrate the conclusion of the exams by planning a treat for you and your family.

Mental Health tips for UPSC Aspirants

  1. Select the minimum necessary of books, and read the same book more than once. Remember to take breaks while studying at the same time. 
  2. Attend webinars with mentors and high performers to correct any errors. It will help you clear up our uncertainty and provide you a lot of self-assurance.
  3. Additionally, staying up late studying is typically not a good idea. Multiple studies and medical professionals have demonstrated that a well-rested mind is far more likely to score well on a test than is a mind that has been awake all night. 
  4. Get enough rest the night before your test.
  5. Even though students have a busy schedule, regular exercise is advised.
  6. Students with serious eating issues must get assistance from a specialist.
  7. They are capable of managing their time for education. After two to three hours of study, they should take a break rather than continuing to sit still. This will aid in managing digestive issues.
  8. It is usually advisable to eat often. Students’ diets must contain vitamins, protein, and minerals. in order to give them more energy to study.
  9. IAS candidates employ a variety of exogenous stimulants to reduce their anxiousness. They can frequently pause for tea or coffee. It is advised that applicants avoid making these behaviours routine before the exam starts.
  10. Your mental health is in danger whenever you seek for reliable information without guidance.
  11. Stop looking at various employment choices. Next, list the CSE syllabus’s essential topics that may be divided into categories based on their relative relevance.
  12. Next, create a flexible and practical schedule that you can adhere to on a regular basis.
  13. Finally, a serious mind’s ingrained tendency is to feel anxious before any exam. It can’t be prevented. But concentrating on minor adjustments, small routines, and small adjustments will eventually lead you to greater things.

Conclusion

Antidepressants and psychotherapy are effective therapies for overcoming exam-related depression. Some patients discover that the most effective treatment is a mix of antidepressants and psychotherapy. It is essential to seek professional counsel. The finest care can be provided by a doctor or mental health professional. In the current educational environment, students who are enrolled in college or preparing for a competitive exam have a variety of health issues, which have a significant negative influence on their performance. Knowing how to study well and organising oneself to overcome these issues would help one have a good future.

You Can Read Also:

How to Tackle Mental Health Issues Before and during UPSC Civil Services exam
Which NCERT Books Are Required For UPSC?
UPSC and Time Management: Can the Pomodoro Technique Help?

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