Year Six SATs. Year Eleven GCSEs. Year Thirteen A-Levels. The Summer Term is here. It’s the Business End of the academic calendar.
Young people are, as a result, under increasing pressure to perform and, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, this can manifest itself in countless different ways.
Exam stress – and the problems it can lead to – is often underestimated. But make no mistake about it, children and teenagers the UK over are feeling the heat right now. Some can cope, but others are less well equipped. There are certain signs that adults can look out for.
Changes in sleep patterns – more or less – is a common indicator that all might not be well. So too appetite, with eating habits often prone to fluctuation during the most stressful periods. Young people can become withdrawn, retreating to their bedrooms, snappy, irritable and tearful, while others turn to substances. Does this sound at all familiar? It isn’t that unusual.
Think about the stress and where it might be coming from . . .
Some is self-induced, whilst parents, peers, teachers, schools, universities, colleges and the internet – once again, social media can be a punishing environment for those feeling the strain – can all add to the mounting pressure. Underpinning it all is sometimes a crushing fear of failure. To those in its grip, it often feels as though there’s nothing that can be done to escape it.
This isn’t the case and, for those seeking our advice, we’ve got some simple solutions that can prove effective . . .
Organisation is important so use diaries and plan ahead. Break it down into manageable chunks rather than trying to tackle it all at once. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Take regular breaks and do some exercise. Sleep is important, so too routines. Should it all get to be too much, don’t be afraid to seek help.
You could ask a teacher, a friend or a parent. You could ask us. The important thing is that support is sought out, for assistance is out there and there’s no need to suffer in silence.
Being mental health professionals and parents, we understand the demands and the expectations and the problems that such things can lead to. We get the pressure and the stress. We don’t underestimate it or its impact.
We also understand that this can be a difficult time for the adults involved and that, as parents and carers, the line between encouragement/support and pressure can be a fine one that is tough to tread. Young people need to know that you’re there. But sometimes the best thing to do is just back off.
If YOU are concerned about exam stress or other academic pressures or if the back-to-school transition is proving problematic, please feel free to get in touch. You can call us on 01661 852325 or use our online contact form. Remember, we’re here to help.