Top tips for dealing with stress in VCE

woman in white shirt showing frustration

Stress. It’s the bane of high school students, causing significant physical, psychological or emotional strain. Chances are you will have to deal with plenty of it throughout your VCE studies, especially if your expectations are high. 

Although some cortisol, the stress hormone, can act as a source of motivation, excessive stress has the opposite effect and can make it very difficult to concentrate.

One thing’s for sure, stress management is crucial for your performance during your end-of-year exams as well as your overall health. So, how should you cope with this disruptive hormone? Read below for some advice!

Bad habits you should avoid

Obsessing over a single bad mark on a SAC

When you receive a bad mark, you must remind yourself that the past is in the past. Prepare for the next SAC instead of dwelling on a single bad result. Though it may be challenging to face your shortcomings, acknowledging your errors and recording them in a separate ‘error book’ will minimise the chances of you making the same mistake again. 

An all-or-nothing mentality

Setting unrealistic expectations, such as obtaining a raw 50 in all of your subjects should be avoided. It’s important to distinguish between a goal and an expectation so you don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Essentially, you want to hope for the best and not fear the worst. Learning is a lifelong journey not limited to VCE and an all-or-nothing mentality shifts the attention from the lessons to the results, which aren’t always indicative of your abilities or efforts. 

Cramming

Don’t fall into the trap of procrastinating assignments until the last minute. Do a little bit at a time instead! Blocking your study time into thirty minute chunks, twice a day over seven days will yield greater concentration and efficiency than cramming for seven hours in a single day before an important assessment. 

Basing your self-worth on marks

Judging yourself based on the marks you obtain is unhealthy.If you don’t get the marks you desire you’ll end up with despair and low self-esteem. Instead of concentrating on the results, why not enjoy the process? Utilising fun methods of studying, such as Quizlet games or learning with a friend shifts the focus and stress towards having a good time. 

How to build a healthy schedule

Get a full night’s sleep

This is arguably the hardest habit to get into, but your body will thank you for getting to bed on time. If you don’t feel refreshed when you wake up, try going to sleep an hour earlier. You’ll feel more rejuvenated and ready for a day’s worth of learning, and your stress levels will naturally decrease once you’re well-rested. Make good use of your phone’s screen timers and ‘bedtime modes’, or place your phone somewhere out of reach if you know that text conversation with your best friend will keep you up until 1 am. 

Exercise

Exercise in pretty much any shape or form can help lift built-up stress. Not only does hitting the gym get rid of some of the stress hormones plaguing you, but it also releases beneficial endorphins. You don’t need to work out every day for hours at a time: try fitting in just thirty minutes a day, three times a week, and you’ll feel lighter and more clear-minded. You could even incorporate exercise into your schedule by walking to school instead of being dropped off or taking public transport if you live close to your school. 

How to reduce stress 

Be up-to-date with coursework

Nothing is more stressful and ineffective than learning an entire topic the day before, or worse – the morning of the test. You can prevent this by staying up-to-date with your homework, asking your teacher or tutor plenty of questions, and collaborating with your classmates. 

Talk to a friend

If you feel jittery before an important test or SAC, try talking to your friend. Chances are, your friend is also experiencing the same gut-wrenching emotions that you are and venting to each other will help release some of the pent-up feelings you may have. 

Meditation 

Meditation is absolutely  worth a try when you’re stressed or if you’re unable to sleep the night before a crucial test. Try searching for guided breathing exercises on YouTube, or download an app like Headspace or Smiling Mind. 

Creative destruction

Pent-up emotions often lead to stress. To release these bothersome or unpleasant feelings, you may want to express yourself physically or artistically. Take up a fast-paced sport, such as taekwondo or boxing, or if you’re more artistic you might want to paint vigorously on a canvas board to alleviate your stress. In essence, you’re killing two birds with one stone: you’re taking up a new, productive hobby and getting rid of stress. 

Talk to a teacher/psychologist

Teachers are your go-to when it comes to dealing with stress. You don’t necessarily have to talk to all your teachers about your stress; simply the one(s) you get along the best with! Your teachers will most likely be compassionate and be there for you as a great listening ear. Another option is to consult the school psychologist if your teachers are unavailable. 

Talk to your tutor

Your tutor has likely been in your shoes before as a former VCE student and thus will have the capacity to advise you on how to deal with your stress. Like friends and teachers, tutors can offer you help and advice on how to deal with nerves. At Intuition Academics, our tutors are selected based on not just marks but also affability and compassion, making them well suited for educational and emotional support.

Conclusion

Although some level of stress and anxiety during VCE cannot be avoided, following the approaches highlighted above can help alleviate much of it. We hope this article was of good use, and we wish you all the best in coping with stress during your future studies!

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  • Sara is a student studying at Melbourne University and an aspiring doctor. Her passion for writing and reading developed when she was young through her diary entries and blogging. Now, she continues to love both creative and factual writing, and works as an English tutor and freelance writer.

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