As QCAA exams approach, it’s important for students and parents to understand the stress that usually comes with these studies and how to manage it.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Sunshine Coast’s Thompson Institute Dr Michelle Kennedy has been studying stress and anxiety in young school students.
She has come up with a list of strategies to help students manage stress.
“When students experience heightened anxiety, certain parts of the brain that support the recall of information required for exams may not function effectively,” Dr Kennedy says.
“When this occurs, students may become more anxious and have difficulty changing out of this state.
“At this time, non-verbal gestures and support are often the most effective as students will be more reactive than normal. Things such as bringing a meal, providing a cool drink, providing a heat pad to place over their stomachs to settle nerves. These are little things that can help.”
Dr Kennedy’s strategies to help with stress
1. Be conscious about your study space. Studying in the same place works for some, whereas others may need a change of scenery as the day goes on.
2. Take regular breaks. This can vary, as some people might find themselves in a 'flow' and will focus for longer periods, compared to shorter periods at other times.
3. Incorporate movement to recharge and refocus the brain. The brain will take in a certain amount of information, then requires a break. This can take the form of walking, running, kicking a football, shooting hoops or yoga.
4. Regular food breaks and snacks. Be selective in your choice of foods and drinks. Choose carefully when to take in foods and drinks that contain stimulants.
5. Use stress management strategies. Mindfulness and breathing exercises, listening to music, reading a book or even spending some time outside can help.
6. Maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Prioritising quality sleep over cramming late into the night will not only help with stress and anxiety, it’s better for the body and brain too.
Dr Kennedy encourages parents and students to remember that everyone is different, and some of these strategies might not work as well as they do for others.
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