This article has been written by Mr Gaston Antezana Ortiz.
Gaston is a lecturer in Counselling at Murdoch University and manages clinical supervision placements at Caladenia Counselling. He has over 15 years’ experience in clinical practice and is currently completing his PhD on young people, mental health and technology.
Understanding stress and how to manage it
Feeling stressed is a normal part of human experience, this is particularly true when we go through significant changes in our lives or have to face challenging situations. It often happens that stress can get out of control bringing with it feelings of anxiety, depression and poor physical health. Having a proper strategy to control stress helps to minimise adverse effects, and in turn maximises the possibility of being successful in solving the problems that we have at hand.
Young people undergoing exam stress are more successful when they lay out the “rules of the game”: understanding how they can use stress for their benefit, recognising warning signs and having a plan of attack. All these strategies can guarantee that their mental and physical wellbeing are looked after, helping them in achieving their goals successfully.
If stress is out of control it can have a number of negative effects on the mental capabilities on young people. These include:
- Sleep problems
- Social isolation
- Low motivation
- Lack of self-control
- Inability to focus and concentrate
The positive effects of parental support
A recent study on exam stress in college students showed that “problem-focused coping, and support from significant others may serve as potentially important predictors of the academic-related stress experienced by college students”. Family support in times of stress translated into positive maintenance of physical and emotional health. This was true even when the parents of the students weren’t physically present (living abroad). Students with low support showed poor academic performance and higher tendency to abandon their studies.
Similarly, a study looking into GPA scores of students receiving high parental and social support vs those with little support showed that the former had lower anxiety, were better adjusted to academic life and had an overall positive attitude towards their future and themselves.