When you’re a student and exams are on top of you, it’s so easy to feel stressed and maybe overwhelmed but hey, don’t forget that’s quite normal. Stress isn’t an easy thing to deal with, especially on your own, but if you can find your own creative coping methods for your bad days, you’re on the right track. Here’s a few to get you started. – Zara, St David’s Catholic College.
Seek inspiration and advice
Let’s start by acknowledging the that sixth form can be a massive change for some people – you get more responsibility for your learning and your workload will be very different to GCSE where you’ll be spending your time on fewer subjects so need to understand things in more depth. Some pressures may be the same, like doing your best to achieve certain grades or worrying about fitting in for example. But it doesn’t have to be scary – to take the pressure off a little, get some inspiration or a little life advice from those around you. It may not feel like it on your worst day, but it’s likely that there are so many people in your life that want to hear about your problems and offer a little helpful advice, so let them.
Jade from Year 13:
“When I’m stressed, I like to speak to my friends and family about my problems and ask them for their opinion on what I should do. I like to think of the positives and the things in life that I am lucky to have.”
Communicate with your teachers
St David’s students are pretty lucky to have a great Learning Support Centre so there’s always somewhere for students to go and share their worries whether it’s personal or school worries – if your school or college has one of these, seek them out! If you don’t have this, speak to a teacher that you trust and share you worries. They want to help you.
Isaac, Year 12:
“I find it stressful balancing college and a part time job as sometimes I have to leave my lessons early in order to get to my shifts on time, but my ICT teacher is very supportive and helps me finish my coding quickly enough to get to work on time.”
Write stuff down
Not being organised can massively contribute to stress with A Levels or other courses you may be taking after high school. There’s always so much to think about and remember, including assignment deadlines, revision dates and generally finding your way to the right class at the right time. I like to keep everything written down in a diary, so I always know where I am with everything and I can’t recommend this enough – simple but effective.
Take a nap
PSA – you can’t get far or feel at ease without a little rest, especially in our teenage years when sleep time is needed the most (excuse for a lie in, anyone?). But in all seriousness, poor sleep can make any mental health issues worse, increase your stress levels and weaken your immune system – basically it’s an all round a problem, which I can definitely relate to. I know it may be hard to do but try and go to bed early at least a few times a week or take a nap to recharge. Everything is so much better with a little sleep and switching off is so important. I try and turn off my phone alerts at night too to hep this.
Jamal, Year 13:
“Sleep is important! A lot of students undermine how beneficial rest is for your mental and physical health. I like to take regular naps to ensure I am well rested especially before tackling any big assignments or revision.”
Change your focus with exercise
Even if you feel like you haven’t got a spare second, exercise can really help you to clear your mind. Especially when you’ve got tonnes of work to do, which is adding to your stress. So, go for a walk, run, cycle, anything – just get moving! Change the focus, I find it helps.
Isaac, from Year 12:
“I think exercising is important as it releases endorphins and makes you feel a lot happier.”
Mindfulness is a term that’s batted around a lot but it’s a skill that can really help to remove you from your stresses, giving time to reset and balance your thoughts which can be both awesome and necessary when there’s loads going on up there.
Jamal, Year 13:
“Meditation techniques such as mindfulness can train you to relax and are excellent for treating anxiety. I was sceptical about trying them first – but they really do work.”
Help and Support
Whenever you feel stress/ anxiousness taking over, it can sometimes seem like the loneliest place in the world which I know can be really difficult to get out of. But it is so important to try to talk about what is bothering you. Maybe consider some of these:
Remember you are not alone!
The most important thing to realise when you are feeling down is that you are not alone – I know that can sound like a cliché but it’s true. There’s plenty of support and people available who can and want to help you- just look around you. If you don’t know where to start, follow the advice in this little blog or even have a think about your own unique ways to handle stress – if you find any great tips, make sure you share them too. If you take anything from this blog, I want you to remember that if you truly feel as though you aren’t coping, reach out to someone.
Good luck with your exams – go smash them!
-Zara, Year 13, St David’s Catholic College student