If you’re in Year 12, then you know that stress comes with the territory. Between assignments, exams, classwork and extracurricular activities, it can be hard to find time to relax and unwind in the last year of high school. Luckily, there are a few ways you can reduce your stress load so that you have more time to focus on the essential things, like making sure you ace your exams or getting involved in your favourite sport or club before heading off to university.
What is Stress?
The stress response, also known as fight-or-flight, prepares your body for action. Your brain triggers this response in response to a perceived threat—say, during an exam. For instance, you might hear a question that requires knowledge you don’t have or see one of your classmates reaching for their phone during an exam. Your brain responds by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which activate many different functions throughout your body so that you can react quickly and effectively. In school, it’s common for students to feel stressed out because they don’t know how to study or what information is essential to learn—but these feelings are still stress-responses.
How to overcome feelings of burnout
Our emotions strongly impact our productivity, so if you’re experiencing feelings of burnout, it may be time to try some new approaches. Burnout can occur when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload or struggling with other stressors in your life. To relieve your stress and bring a sense of calm back into your day, try taking a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness exercises. By paying attention to thoughts and feelings without judging them as positive or negative, you can learn how to reduce negative emotions and live more positively. And if possible, consider taking an active break from work by having lunch with friends or going for a walk around campus.
Five tips to combat stress
- Set a solid schedule for study and rest hours
One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to set a schedule with study hours and rest hours and sticking with it. Irregular schedules can lead students to burnout. Set reasonable goals for what material you want to cover during study hours, and make sure you get through everything. If you find that you fall slightly behind and your study hours are over, feel free to take the time to finish everything.
- Eat a balanced diet
A balanced diet can help reduce your stress levels. While it’s tempting to snack on junk food when you’re stressed, in most cases, sugar and refined carbs will only make you feel worse. Instead, eat plenty of fruit and veggies—preferably organic—and try some healthy, whole foods like Greek yoghurt or unsweetened nut butter. If you aren’t a fan of protein shakes, protein powder is another excellent option for a nutrient-rich boost.
- Stay physically active
Physical activity is one of the best ways you can keep stress at bay and boost your mood. Aim for at least thirty minutes of exercise a day—and if possible, schedule it into your calendar. Physical activity increases serotonin levels in your brain, helps you focus better and gives you an energy boost, all valuable for getting things done—like studying.
- Practise meditation
Meditation is a great way to calm yourself and reduce stress. Mindfulness meditation—which has gained a lot of traction recently—is about being present in each moment, which can help you focus on what’s going on around you. If you’re experiencing a lot of stress or anxiety, try out a few different methods and see what works best for you. After all, meditation is supposed to be relaxing!
- Get plenty of sleep
One of your body’s most potent weapons against stress is getting quality sleep. Whether you’re having trouble sleeping because of work, school, or family obligations, try to get seven or eight hours every night. If you feel constantly exhausted or unfocused in class—or if your grades are slipping due to persistent drowsiness—you may need more than eight hours.
In conclusion, as a student, it is vital to work effectively and efficiently. To perform well in your studies, you need a balance between ‘Effort’ and ‘Reward’. The reward can come in many forms, such as relaxation, family time, hobbies, or simply walking away from a stressful situation.