Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read my article about my Year 12 Research Project. I researched the impact of anxiety and stress upon academic performance. I chose to research this area, as anxiety was something I struggled with from a young age and it became a significant problem through years 10, 11 and 12. Particularly in year 12, I came very close to taking a year off school and re-doing it later as I felt so consumed by anxiety that it became debilitating. This made facing the day a huge challenge, making going to school, completing assignments and doing other activities like part-time work and extra-curricular activities appear impossible. While going through this, I had no idea how unbelievably common anxiety is, particularly for teens.
Through my research, I found 1 in 4 Australian’s suffer from anxiety. This staggered me, as anxiety is something not discussed openly because it is stigmatised; but breaking through this barrier is the first step to battling it. I now speak openly about my own anxiety, as I know how common it is and know the significant effects it has on the lives of young people in all areas, but particularly in school and learning. I believe year 10s, 11s and 12s aren’t given enough credit – high school poses many challenges and is the time where individuals attempt to figure out who they want to be after school. This coupled with peer pressure and expectations from teachers, parents and yourself creates a prime environment for stress to occur.
When talking to my school counsellor for the completion of my year 12 Research Project, she informed me that students’ worry can cause stress, illness and phobias, which affect all aspects of life including academic performance. Too much anxiety leads to impaired concentration, problem solving and memory – all essential components for completing high school. Therefore, it is essential to take care of yourself so stress doesn’t get in the way of achieving your goals.
A great way to combat anxiety is to look after yourself physically. Maintaining healthy eating habits, getting a good nights sleep every night and exercising can set you up to minimise stress. My research found meditation and exercise are very popular and useful methods to reduce anxiety levels in students. Meditation can be achieved simply through slowed breathing. There are many phone apps such as “Headspace” that have mediative exercises and other cool stress relieving games to help relax you. Once you know the breathing techniques that work for you, use them! They’ll help keep stress to a minimum. Exercise is also great as it burns stress chemicals and releases “happy” endorphins – leading to a reduction in anxiety. My last tip for combating stress is to make sure you talk about it. A problem shared is a problem halved! Whether it’s a parent, friend, teacher, counsellor or anyone close to you, talk about your stresses and discuss possible ways to reduce your anxieties.
So just remember that if stress is affecting your life, know that it is something you can beat, and you can achieve to your potential!
Good luck for the rest of the school year.
All the best,