It’s about that time in the term when most year 12’s around the country are stressed. Stressed about assignments, exams, work, trials, the HSC and all the content they need to wrap their heads around. What can we say -- high school can have some stressful periods!
As you walk through your high school hall, you might hear muffled sighs, yawns and a good amount of statements sounding something along the lines of “I’m so stressed.” Student stress-stressed students -- they're everywhere!
Though this is completely normal, stress can inhibit you from performing your best in your exams and assignments which ultimately poses the question – how do I manage stress during such stressful times and maintain my mental health?
Get enough sleep
Most high school students have the idea that more study = better marks. This is not always the case. Though arguably overused, quality over quantity is something that you should always remind yourself of.
Cutting into your sleep time to study for long, tiring hours is not the best way to go. The less sleep you get at night, the more likely it is for you to be feeling overwhelmed, irritable, and stressed during the day which can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression in the long term.
As high school students, you should aim to get about 8 hours of sleep per night (according to sleep research) so that you are rejuvenated, can manage your stress levels, can understand the content and can attend to what you’re doing! Sleep = is a great stress management technique!
Pick your people
Another misconception that many students have is that cutting out your social life amounts to success in your last year of high school. This is not the case!
Finding a group of friends that you are comfortable with and can have fun with doing a shared activity can be a great way to take your mind off studies and grades and reduce your stress levels! A healthy amount of socialisation can lighten your mood and make you feel happier – you may even have a laugh talking about your ‘shared human experience’ while doing the HSC.
So, though you may feel guilty taking a break from studying – don’t be! Go out and enjoy some time with your friends!
Limit your caffeine intake and try to have a balanced diet
Energy drinks. Fuel for most students to get through each day, get some energy and work through the night – and this cycle generally heightens around exam time (a stressful period).
Would it be a surprise if I told you that that’s probably not the best idea? Energy drinks tend to have a good amount of caffeine in them and can activate your stress axis, contributing to your stress and inhibiting your performance rather than boosting it.
Trying to reduce these major sources of caffeine will help reduce any stress that may come from taking them and thus, help you take on your last year of high school with ease!
Following along with the topic of food – try to have balanced meals every day to meet your body’s nutritional requirements! Eating healthy, balanced meals not only makes you feel good but provides you with the extra energy that might be needed to cope with stressful events coming your way.
Find an activity that works as your emotional reset button
We all need an activity. Whether this is journaling, going for a walk, drinking tea (my favourite), going to exercise (maintaining your physical health), meditating, seeing family or even tutoring other high school students, having an activity that moves or nourishes your body or helps you stay calm is super important to aid your success, reduce stress and relax.
If you’re thinking about it, there are 16 hours in a working day (given that you sleep for 8 hours) – this is plenty of time for you to structure your life in a balanced way and reduce stress!
Learn to know yourself
This is a little bit more of an abstract point but is arguably one of the most important ones! Knowing to understand yourself, your cues and your limits is super important not only as high school students but in the future as you start your life as an adult.
Knowing when things are too much, when you need to step back and when you need to give yourself a break helps you maintain your mental health, and stress levels and helps you create a good work-life balance. By understanding yourself better, you’ll be better equipped at managing stress when it comes and avoiding situations that make you stressed!
Stay up to date with your study
This is probably one of the more generic points, but is nevertheless, super helpful. Staying current with your study is a practical and logical way to reduce stress and improve your mental health!
Knowing what you have on when you have to do it and how you’re going to organise your time to complete the activity will help you feel as though you’re in control, reduce your stress and set up the right mindset to ace your studies!
Here are a few tips on how to stay up to date in the holidays, and in term 1! If you need help organising yourself, understanding content and staying up to date, consider finding yourself a tutor!
Know who you can call when you are struggling
Last but not least, make sure you are familiar with the channels that you can go through to get help when you are struggling.
There are a variety of services in your schools that are there to support you -- your teachers, school counsellors and even school principal! Not only that, but you have your parents to go to whenever you feel as though you are in doubt! Don't try to cope with the stress alone, because you have a lot of people to help you through any difficulty that you are going through!
This is also not to mention all the mental health organisations such as Lifeline that are designed to help people in need! Dealing with any kind of psychological burden can be difficult, so use these resources if you need to and don’t be afraid to reach out and seek help from a trusted adult!
What is stress?
Stress is a response to situations where we feel pressure or detect a threat. Generally, stress is an adaptive response, so it is beneficial to you (imagine if you weren’t stressed and running away from a lion!) But, having excess stress can also hinder your ability to do well in school and manage life in general so it is important to know how to manage it!
How does stress affect a person?
Stress can have a variety of effects on the body and can potentially cause illness! Stress can make you feel anxious, and worried or even give you physical symptoms like an upset stomach or headaches! But, each person's stress response is different!
How do I keep on top of my studies?
There are a few ways you can stay on top of your studies whilst maintaining your mental health – these include:
- Using a calendar
- Getting a tutor
- Act to seek help if you are concerned with how your studies are
- Seek professional help if you concerned about your mental health
And that's all for this article!
Written by KIS Academics Tutor for HSC maths advanced and extension 1, Yasmin Hasan. Yasmin is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) at UNSW and has received stellar reviews from her past KIS Academics students. You can view Yasmin’s profile here and request her as a tutor!