Whether your parents are on your case about end-of-year results, your teachers are piling on the work, or you’re uncertain about the transition to uni life, there’s a lot going on in Year 12. We spoke to an ACU psychologist for some ways to keep your cool and manage stress.
The time is now
Fitting study in with family commitments, your work schedule and everything else is a common stress trigger for busy students. Now is the time to figure out which time management tools work best for you. Whether you enjoy using an organisational app to keep your to-do list in check or you prefer to go old school and plan your schedule with a pen and paper, what matters is learning what works best for you and sticking to it. When you have time management systems up and running and a reliable routine of scheduling in your commitments, it immediately takes the pressure off. Don’t forget to put fun stuff in your calendar, too.
If you’re overwhelmed with exam stress or already worrying about whether you’ll be accepted into your dream course, you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to those around you, like your parents, a school counsellor, or a trusted friend. Sometimes just articulating the stressful thoughts swirling around your head can help you find new perspective. Sharing your stress, no matter how small it may seem, will help you feel less alone.
Make time to move
If you have a lot going on right now, exercise will help you destress and have you humming with positive energy and feel-good endorphins. But for some of us, a regular fitness routine is easier said than done. If you’re new to getting sweaty, the best way to use exercise to fight stress is to discover what you love and forget the rest. Do some yoga, play netball or touchy footy with your friends, or go for a swim. If you love what you’re doing, the time you spend exercising will fly and transforming it into a regular routine will become much easier.
Fill up on stress-fighting foods
It’s all too easy for time-poor students to reach for unhealthy foods that are quick and convenient to get you through, such as greasy takeaways or vending machine junk. While these foods may bring you a temporary sense of calm, they won’t do your stress levels any favours. Instead, try loading up on berries, which are rich in vitamin C and have been shown to help fight stress. Snacking on zinc-rich cashews might be a better choice, too, as low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. And we know this is a tough one for exhausted students, but try swapping your daily coffee dose for a chamomile tea, which may help improve your sleep and calm your frazzled nerves.
Constant worry about study can interfere with your sleep and ability to relax. Practicing mindfulness will help keep this in check and can maximise your ability to focus on the task at hand while working to refresh your mind during your time off. There are many mindfulness apps that can help get you started. And the good news is that the practice only takes a few minutes per day.