Ways to reduce Stress and Anxiety
Headlines such as “Experts warn of low matric pass rates for 2020” are now in the media, and adding fear into a situation that already feels tense, as well as causing anxiety to students who have had so much to cope with already. Students have had less support and less school days, yet are heading towards matric exams on which their futures depend. Students may have to adjust their end goals, and parents must be supportive of the process as well as the goals and the outcomes of all exams.
Below, we note some quick and effective study tips from an interview with Dr Linda Meyer, Operations and Sector Support at Universities South Africa.
“Covid19 does not contribute to our contextual stability, we are in a volatile and unconstructive environment which has resulted in higher stress levels. We have to cope with exam stress as well as the uncertainty of what is to come.
Stress is a feeling of emotional and physical tension – we are being judged by our peers and parents, and we then see ourselves as success or failures. We are self-critical. Also, as human beings we often leave things to the last minute, which creates more stress.
Students who prepare and plan will feel less stressed.
Focus on positive self-talks. Be personal and be honest open and frank, understand what it is what we want to achieve. We mustn’t be too harsh on ourselves or judge ourselves to harshly. If we fail, we must readjust our goals.
How do we control our stress levels? We must decide motivates us, and set goals. We must not be too harsh on ourselves. Failure in one thing eg grade 12 doesn’t mean you yourself are a failure – it means you didn’t prepare adequately or didn’t have adequate support. That process didn’t work for you. In having positive self-talk, you need to say things like: “I have an end goal I am motivated to achieve and I am going to achieve”. Set yourself some motivation and be clear about what it is you want to achieve.
What are some unique and basic study tips?
Students: Have a routine – this is something you must do daily. Very important.
- Use the breathing technique (to control anxiety). If you are feeling highly stressed take 6 or 7 deep breaths for 5 or 6 seconds, in and then out, to stabilise your cortisol levels.
- Cut out distractions e.g. social media.
- Take regular breaks, go for walks once a day to get your heart rate up.
- Talk about your stress and anxiety with those around you
- Getting enough sleep cannot be overemphasised. Do not cram through the night before. Do not put yourself in an utter exhaustive state. You will hit a blank during your exam.
- Prepare adequately
- Have a positive self-talk
Parents – be supportive, lead by example, set routine. Have your own routine and a family routine.
Keep in mind that even if the students fail, they will have other opportunities, make sure not to criticise them. Life is hard, we need to be able to fail and get up again.
Make sure students have structure, get enough sleep, eat a high protein food, and minimise screen time. Create a balanced and supportive environment. Motivate them and make them feel safe and secure.”