Mind for Life



Effective ways to manage your stress levels throughout the demanding HSC period

By Karthika Thomas

Counsellor/yoga instructor at Mind For Life​

Do you find yourself feeling guilty for taking a break? Do you think you have not prepared enough or might not have enough time to prepare for your HSC exams? Do parents worry that their son or daughter is on the phone most of the time instead of studying? The HSC is definitely considered a very important step towards the future of an adolescent or teenager. Most parents stress about the HSC even though their child may feel confident and prepared. Most teenagers feel frustrated and distressed before sitting for their HSC.

So let’s find out what stress during the HSC actually is and why it is so important to have stress-busters built into your routine!

Stress is a natural response of our body to any demanding environmental stimuli that may be perceived as a threat or danger. The danger in the environment may be either real or imaginary, and the body automatically responds in the ‘fight or flight’ manner which is termed as the ‘acute stress response’.

Common symptoms of stress include:
  • Feeling restless
  • Breathlessness and/or faster heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Headache and/or feeling dizzy
  • Loss of appetite and/or overeating/binge eating
  • Lack of focus
  • Loss of motivation

Some parents who constantly stress about their children’s future have the above-mentioned symptoms along with a higher intake of caffeine, increased smoking and drinking, lack of concentration at work, constant sweating, irritability and feeling overwhelmed with everything aroundthem.

Simple and easy ways to manage your stress include deep breathing to try to calm yourself down. There are many ways to reduce your stress levels. Finding time for those small things that relieve our tension and change the focus from stressful or pressurized events is essential to feel better.

Here are some stress-busting tips to assist teenagers during the HSC:

Tip 1: Relax and take regular breaks
Panic studying for HSC is common among teenagers. Try to take a break once in a while to cool down and let off some steam. Trust me, it’s important. Studying 24/7 is not going to help but instead, it will only cause more anxiety.


Tip 2: Maintain a timetable to stay organised
A timetable can help you plan your study and break time effectively.You can have guilt-free breaks to refresh and recharge your mind that will help keep you focused during study time.
Tip 3: Take a walk outside Feeling saturated is common during stressful times. Due to all the pressure from society and family, you may find yourself trying hard to gather all the information at once while studying. You may feel cluttered or clueless even after spending hours upon hours studying a chapter. When that happens, it’s time for a BREAK!!! Take a walk outside with your pet or just by yourself. You will be surprised how your mind clears up the clutter to get you back in the mood for studying.
Tip 4: Snacking is fine but avoid binge eating
Some people prefer having snacks while studying. It is healthy to snack but you need to stay mindful and draw a line between stress-eating and snacking. Snacks are small portions of food when you feel slightly hungry and aren’t able to concentrate. Stress-eating, on the other hand, is eating every edible thing around the house even though you may not feel hungry. So opt for healthy, nutritious snacks in moderation.
Tip 5: Keep yourself hydrated
Water is important as it will help you to calm your nerves and stay relaxed. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. So keep a glass or bottle of water with you while studying and aim to drink 6 – 8 glasses a day.

Here are some important pointers for parents with children sitting the HSC:

Tip 1: Relax and cut them some SLACK!!
Children need a break. The pressure they feel around HSC and anything related is so much greater than you imagine. Constantly checking on them would just lead to extra pressure which they really don’t need.
Tip 2: Reduce Caffeine intake
Stress acts differently on each individual. While caffeine may be a good way to take your focus off your child’s exam stress and calm your nerves, excessive intake may lead to indigestion, lack of sleep and constant headaches. Stress acts differently on each individual. While caffeine may be a good way to take your focus off your child’s exam stress and calm your nerves, excessive intake may lead to indigestion, lack of sleep and constant headaches.
Tip 3: Increase family time
Letting your child know that taking a break is fine and essential goes a long way. During those breaks, make sure you stay connected with your child. Activities such as going for walks, cooking together, dancing or listening to music etc, are all great ways to help your child relax and help yourselves at the same time.

Remember, excessive stress may lead to anxiety and depression in children and also parents. Even though it is a crucial and important time, try and reduce stress levels to regain your quality of life.

By employing these simple stress-buster techniques, it will help you look after yourself better and increase your self-confidence and concentration to be as ready for the exams as you can be!


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