The Lowdown
20 July 2022 • 6 min read

Study Stress

School seems to be all about grades, right? And everyone says the only way to get there is by studying and working hard. They expect you to do more and more, until it can feel like there’s just too much to do.

A stressed-out person leaning on top of a bunch of books with a colourful filter overlayed with different Pacific patterns.

It is important to try and do your best in school as it sets you up to succeed as an adult, but at times the juggling of study, attending school, mahi/work, your whānau, extracurricular activities like sport and music, relationships and life in general can eventually add up and begin to overwhelm you. Even when it’s stuff you love doing, it can sometimes feel like you’re overloaded.

As you progress through high school and begin your NCEA levels, it’s common to begin to feel stressed, tired and overwhelmed by the study that is expected of you. If you think you might be suffering from study stress, here are some things you might be feeling:

  • Mentally and physically exhausted
  • Struggling to focus
  • Low energy and lack of motivation to attend class or get assignments done
  • Getting mad at your friends or family more often because of frustration
  • Physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • If you start to recognise some of the symptoms above in yourself, it might be time to make some changes for the sake of your mental health and well-being.

You can try:

  • Taking breaks – try to get some time in every week to relax and recharge your batteries
  • Say no to commitments that will make you more stressed, and think about some healthy boundaries you can set
  • Look at your schedule and prioritise what’s most important for you. If there’s a parent or caregiver involved in your decisions, ask them to help you make a plan that will reduce the pressure on you.
  • Have a chat with your teacher or lecturer and let them know you’re struggling. Ask them for support and advice on how to manage your workload in a way that supports you to succeed and ensures you have a healthy balance in your life.
  • Physical activity – go for a walk or run or take some time to play your favourite sport
  • Practice self-care by listening to music, baking or cooking, taking some time for something you enjoy or simply just going outside for some fresh air
  • Check out www.smallsteps.org.nz for some tools to help you manage your stress and relax your mind.

It’s important to make sure you get the physical and mental rest that you need to reset and recharge, as if you keep pushing through you could burn out and reach a point where you can’t do any of it.

Even though they might not seem like they understand everything you’re going through, parents, caregivers and teachers totally know how it feels to be overloaded. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for extra support. They may be able to help take some pressure off you or give you some guidance if you’re worried you’ll fall behind on your work or miss an assignment deadline.

Remember, even if you do fail a test, your NCEA or even a Uni paper, it’s not going to ruin your life. You’re going to be fine, and once you’re out of school your bosses won’t even care what your grades were. The same goes for if you have to drop out of school for any reason. There is always more time to study if you want to upskill at any point in your life, and some of the best jobs come with learned experience not qualifications anyway.

Learning Disabilities

If you have a learning disability, this may be another reason you’re feeling overwhelmed by school. If a learning disability is having an impact on your ability to study and succeed in school, you may be able to find help in the support systems available to you. Check out the following links for some good options you may qualify for. Remember, who you are is not judged by what you can do, and having struggles doesn’t mean you’re not smart.

If you’re really struggling with stress overload and feel burnt out, you’ve tried to make changes but it just isn’t getting any easier or you feel like you can’t bear to face each day, it’s important that you talk to someone you trust or your school counsellor about how you’re feeling and ask them for support.

Where to get help:

If you’re thinking about harming yourself or are having suicidal thoughts, call Lifeline on 0508 82 88 65 now to talk to someone who cares and can support you.

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