The HSC is sometimes, unhelpfully, billed as one of the most significant years of your life, a year that will determine the outcome of your ENTIRE life, and its success and happiness. Stress, a peculiarly human psychological phenomenon, is frequently the result of seemingly unbearable pressures imposed on us.
The success of your HSC, and more importantly, your own mental and physical health, will depend heavily on how you manage and conquer the stress you will ineluctably encounter.
Stress is a word we use to describe the psychological and physiological state when a person is confronted with a situation that they believe they are unable to cope with for whatever reason: innate or external reasons, such as a lack of self belief or poor time-management skills. A year of cramming and exams to get into that competitive, in-demand degree at Uni is one such situation where a young individual may feel overwhelmed by stress. The amount of stress is proportionate to the perceived importance of the outcome. In these situations the prospect of failure can be a millstone ‘round your neck, undermining your potential and thus the marks you can get. Your success in life will in large part depend on how healthy an attitude you have to yourself and to external stressors.
So here are our tips to getting through the HSC with your nerves in tact:
Tell yourself that stress itself isn’t a bad thing
People without stress are probably divorced from any sense of responsibility or ambition. However too much stress impedes your innate capacities, potentially leading to anxiety, irritableness, sleeplessness and forgetfulness, undermining the important cognitive capacities you need to be at full strength.
Attitude is everything
Always remember that all psychological phenomena are to a large degree mind-dependent: extreme stress is as much due to real external pressures as to your attitudes.
Screwing up isn’t the end of the world
Speaking of attitudes: the HSC is not the be-all and end-all of life. When you get to your 20’s you realise this lesson. The HSC is important; if you know what you’re passionate about, getting the marks to get the right degree to land the right job will help. But there are so many alternate pathways out there, and you might be like me and have no friggin’ idea about what purpose you’ll serve on this planet.
Give yourself a break
Don’t be hard on yourself, and use positive feedback mechanisms. As Winston Churchill said: “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”. Never give up!
Be a habitual planner
Refer to our good study habits article HERE. Good sleep, nutrition and exercise will decrease stress, and improve cognitive capacity. Good self-organisation is crucial: cramming will increase stress, whereas good planning and time management will mean you’ll get the work done AND have time to have a balanced life.
Some things to keep in mind when planning:
- Reward hard work with well-timed leisure activities.
- Employ mindfulness exercises such as focusing on breath to reduce stress and improve productivity.
- Avoid procrastination: delaying your responsibilities will increase the pressure and the stress.
Finally, and most importantly, if things feel like they are slipping out of your control, then that’s ok too. The truth is that most people will go through this sort of experience at least once in their lifetime. A preventative approach is what is required here: go to your school counsellor as your first port of call.
Take care of yourselves and good luck with your studies