Some stress can be helpful in providing motivation, but very high stress levels can cause a significant fall in performance. Helping your teenager manage exam stress in the lead-up to exams will help them study and reduce the tensions in the home over this period. It is important to remind students that there are different types of achievement and the ATAR score is not the only way to get to your goals and is only a measure of ability in a test or exam at one point in time. The ATAR score does not control your future successes or happiness.  Although the final year of school is important, it is unlikely to be the most important year in anyone's life.

Some suggestions for strategies to support teenagers in the lead up to exams include:

  • Brain and body are closely connected, encourage activity such as going for a walk,  eating well and regularly. Make healthy meals, control caffeine and sugar intake,
  • Sleep is essential for wellbeing
  • Help write lists of the things that they can do to relax such as yoga, meditation or reading, making time to relax will help settle nerves
  • Help set up a quiet and comfortable  place to study and get organised. Talk through study planning and setting goals that are achievable . Break tasks into small manageable blocks. Suggest rewards for completing small tasks.  It is important to study smart, remove distractions like social media ( research shows that students who use social media while studying, even in the background get 20% lower marks than those who do not) If it is difficult to stop social media use, there is software that can temporarily block social media sites, addictive websites and games. cold Turkey for PCs or SelfControl for Macs.
  • Encourage and help to write a study timetable including breaks and time to socialise, connect with others to talk about worries, laugh and relax. Prioritise.
  • Schedule family time around their study timetable and give some time off household chores

Look after yourself, take time out, relax, do something for yourself each day, practicing self-care helps reduce your own stress

If your teenager is not coping, talk to teachers or year advisors at school, it may also help to seek support from a professional who can teach strategies for managing stress

Online mental health resources:

Thedesk : an online interactive program by the University of Queensland and funded by Beyondblue. It contains tools to help with problem solving, how to challenge negative or unhelpful thought and tips for relaxation

Smiling Mind : modern meditation for young people using a web and app -based program

eheadspace : a confidential and secure place for 12-25 year olds or their family to chat, email or speak on the phone with a qualified youth mental health professional

mindhealthconnect : a site dedicated to providing access to trusted, relevant mental health care services including stress, anxiety and depression

ReachOutcom : an online youth mental health service helping with everyday questions in tough times

Black Dog Institute : a site dedicated to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders

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