After more than 20 years as a child and adolescent psychologist, I have had the privilege of working with so many students in many various settings and countries.
After my last 6 years as a College Psychologist, I understand the level of stress, the pressure and the expectations that go with school years.
Stress at School
I met with so many students telling me “’I am stressed out”. It is important to understand that stress is not always a bad thing; it is the way your body responds to challenges and gets you ready to face them with attention, energy and strength. We often say that a certain amount of stress is a normal part of life and keeps us motivated.
Good stress, also known as eustress, is a type of mild stress that will inspire, motivate and propel you to complete a given task.
Bad stress – also known as distress – is usually chronic and ongoing stress that impacts everyday life, and stops you from completing a task.
Stress is a nervous energy; it does not always lead to anxiety and a diagnosis of anxiety disorder.
Tips for Enjoying School
To enjoy school, you need to look after yourself and remember that looking after your body has great benefits for your mind. Activities, such as sport, dance, walking etc, can help reduce tension from stress and school pressures.
Some stress can be useful in keeping us motivated, as without it we would find it difficult to stay awake. However, during important times and especially Year 12 and exam time, you may find your stress levels rising high into the “critical zone”’ causing a dramatic decline in performance (beyondblue.org.au).
It is important to find the right balance between the amount of work needed and activities, sport, social life, etc.
Strategies for Beating Stress
Proven strategies for beating stress include:
- connecting with others, talking to friends, socialising, sharing your worries and laughing
- good time management, being organised, and avoiding procrastination.
I like using SMART Goals with young people as they often have unrealistic expectations, that only increase their level of stress.
S is for Specific. State exactly what you want to accomplish.
M is for Measurable. Use smaller steps and goals so you can see your progress.
A is for Achievable. Make sure your goal is something that is reasonable rather than unattainable.
R is for Realistic. Set a goal that is relevant to your life.
T is for Timely. Set yourself a deadline, but make sure it is a reasonable one.
Other very important things to consider when feeling stressed about school and / or exams are:
- Daily planning
- Limiting interruption and distractions
- Rewarding yourself
- Taking breaks
- Getting a good night’s sleep, as lack of sleep can impact motivation, focus, mood and energy level
- Adopting a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset
- Getting some support – for example, by talking to your parents, friends, teachers. Remember that teachers are there to help!
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist who primarily works with children, adolescents and young adults. She is a registered Psychologist in Australia, New Zealand and France, and can provide therapy sessions in English and French.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.