This day two weeks marks the beginning of Junior and Leaving Certificate 2017. No doubt over the coming weeks students are going to experience stress levels higher than usual. Worrying about the future and guilt over not studying enough are normal thought patterns around exam time which give rise to increased stress and anxiety. It is important that all students are able to recognise when stress levels may be going beyond a helpful level. Such symptoms include:
• Poor concentration
• Poor short term memory
• Recurring worrying thoughts
• Lack of tolerance for others
• Anxious about little things
• Prone to bursts of anger and tears
• Indications of feeling ‘down’, alone or misunderstood
• Disturbed sleep
• Poor appetite
It is imperative that students try and keep things in perspective and discover techniques to help reduce stress if things seem to be getting on top of them. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress during exam periods. Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with the different techniques and strategies listed below and remember focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
• Have somebody you can confide in (for example; parents, relatives, friends).
• Express yourself through writing, art, sport, etc. Journaling is a good way to examine your thoughts and challenge them too.
• Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and muscle relaxation techniques.
• Reduce caffeine intake (especially energy drinks, caffeine tablets) – these can cause heart palpitations and panic attacks.
• Eat well (especially complex carbohydrates).
• Sleep well.
• Ensure you spend adequate time revising course material.
• Try to keep things in perspective. Grades are not a measure of your value as a human being, nor do they measure intelligence or creativity.
It is important that if students feel stressed that they contact their school counsellor or doctor or speak with a parent, teacher or relative etc. immediately. All students need to remember it is not the end of the world if they do not get adequate points for their chosen course, there are numerous ways of achieving your dream career, you may just need to adjust your sails to get there!
For more information on all educational issues and career guidance contact Clodagh A. Higgins of Galway Careers Clinic, Salthill, Galway by phone on 091-581234, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.galwaycareersclinic.com