About one in three youth in Singapore report internalizing mental health symptoms, while four in five NUS students reported high levels of stress. Stress is your body’s response to pressure. It could come from numerous sources for example upcoming exams, assignments, pressure from parents to do well in school and so on. Stress is something that everyone experiences, but the important part is how you respond to it as that makes a huge difference in your personal wellbeing.
Students in particular need to know the importance of stress and how to manage it to prevent any disturbances to important aspects like academic performance and overall wellbeing.
What can Stress do?
Stress can affect people in many different ways. As mentioned, it is your body’s reaction to pressure. Feeling large amounts of stress can cause your body to react in detrimental ways.
✽ Physical Health
We all want to be healthy so that we can enjoy life without staying in bed most of the time. Feeling stressed for an extended period of time has been shown to be detrimental to health and can cause issues like high blood pressure and other cardiac issues. The effects of these may not stand out in children as they are still young and relatively healthier, in the long run, it can create issues that are long-lasting or even permanent.
✽ Mental Health
We all know that mental health is very important, especially at a young age when children are more impressionable. High levels of stress for an extended period of time can increase the risk of a child can suffer from mental health issues like anxiety, depression or even burnout which would significantly affect a child’s development and also academic performance.
This is something that helps us in all aspects of life. For children, it is especially important as they have to revise and study for exams. Prolonged stress can affect how memories are formed. It can create difficulty in developing new short-term memories, which then cause a problem in converting them into long-term memories, in turn resulting in you not being able to create and store memory for retrieval later on. For a student, this is detrimental to their learning journey. Imagine studying long hours but nothing seems to be going in your head!
How do I Know if I am Stressed?
Now you might be wondering how you would know if you were stressed. Here are some signs you can look out for!
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Increased Levels of Worry
- Increased Levels of Anxiety
- Difficulty in Memorizing or Recalling Things
- Easily Irritable or Angered
- Frequent Mood Swings
- Weight Changes
- Body Aches
- Breathing Difficulties
- Trouble Sleeping
- High Blood Pressure
- Digestive Issues
What Can I Do?
Some problems can be fixed by removing the causes. However, in the case of students, it might not be possible to do just that since stress could be caused by parents or compulsory academic requirements like exams. Do not worry, there are ways to manage and healthily cope with stress levels so that you can get through school while enjoying your life too!
✽ Get Sufficient Sleep
A lot of students tend to give up sleep to try and cram more chapters or because their work piles up they sacrifice their rest. As tempting as that sounds, trying to complete your tasks and assignments while sleep deprived puts you at a disadvantage instead. You are unable to function at your optimal level, you become less productive too. This might cause you to experience higher levels of stress as the long work hours you put in do not seem to increase your productivity. Sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness are linked to impaired mood, lower grade point averages, lower learning ability and a higher risk of academic failure. Sleeping the required number of hours is not lazy, it actually helps you perform better!
✽ Regular Exercise
This is one of the healthiest ways to relieve some stress! Research has found that students who participated in regular exercise reported lower levels of stress. It is important to note that these students in the study undergo the same curriculum as the other students. They just feel less stressed and that these challenges from school are easier to manage. Who said hitting the gym would not help your studies! It could even be picking up a sports co-curricular activity at school like football, badminton, or tennis!
✽ Listening to Music
Music is able to both stimulate your mind or calm you down, depending on what you require at that point in time. This means that depending on your need at the time, you could use different types of music to your advantage! Upbeat songs can help with processing speed and memory while relaxing classical music has been shown to allow students to recover quicker after a stressful situation. With the right beat, stressful situations you shall defeat!
✽ Create a Support Network
Having friends that are able to support you emotionally can create a strong buffer against stress. Try to expand your social circle such that you have the right people to help you through life. For example, your teachers or seniors might be able to help you with the stress that comes from academics like exams and such, while your peers might be a better source of emotional support if you face any social issues like breakups.
Stress is something that everyone experiences, even youth and children. It is important to understand that just because someone is younger than you are, it does not mean that their stress is not as important as yours.
A study showed that teens actually report stress levels similar to that of adults. It is important for children and parents alike to notice any signs of stress in each other, especially children, as they may not have the experience to handle it as well as adults.
If you face difficulties from extended severe stress, please do seek help from a professional! You are not a rock; you do not have to be under extreme pressure to become a diamond!
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