How to take the stress out of the HSC

Staying healthy and resting well is vital in your HSC year.Credit:Louise Kennerley

Stay healthy, stay active and keep connected during the HSC using these tips for studying, self-care and staying informed.

Sleep

Sleep is important for our bodies to recover and recharge. Aim for a minimum of eight hours a night. Sleep helps us to concentrate, remember things and keeps us energised.

Some tips that can help:

  • Get up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
  • Avoid afternoon naps.
  • Get some exercise every day.
  • Try some mindfulness exercises.

Diet

Eating the right food can help your brain function better.

  • Start the day with breakfast – Try eggs on whole-grain toast, porridge, a smoothie or a toasted sandwich.
  • Lean protein – beef, lamb, fish and also walnuts, almonds, hard-boiled eggs. These help with concentration and help you to feel fuller for longer.
  • Low GI foods – these give your body longer-lasting energy. Try a grain or sourdough bread. Try adding legumes such as lentils or beans to a beef casserole or salad. Choose lower GI grains, such as basmati rice, bulgur or quinoa instead or pasta or jasmine rice.
  • Healthy snacks – avoid the sugar rush: limit snacks of high sugar or salt content, such as chocolate, lollies and chips. Try keeping a plate of freshly cut fruit in the fridge and snack on nuts, seeds, wholegrain crackers and low-fat yoghurt.
  • Stay hydrated – drink water, try adding lemon, lime or mint to add some flavour.

Study

  • Create a realistic study plan, including all aspects of your life eg: work, sport and social activities.
  • Break tasks down into small goals. Reward yourself when you achieve these goals.
  • Plan to study for 40-60 minutes and then have a break. Do something physical, try a brain break or go outside.
  • Set up your study space with the equipment you need, free from distractions.
  • If you find yourself distracted by social media use an app to limit your access. Try Cold Turkey for PCs or SelfControl for Macs.

Make study plans with your friends.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Connections

  • Ask for study suggestions and feedback from your teachers for each of your subjects.
  • Set up a study group with your friends. Talking about your assignments and study topics can help make them clearer and help you to stay focused and retain information.
  • Have some time out with friends – this could be in person or online – and make some time for fun with your friends.
  • Get support. Sometimes other life issues distract us from our goals and plans. Issues such as anxiety, depression, problems at school or home, body image issues or binge drinking are all things that can stop you from staying focused.
  • Look after your friends. Have you noticed a friend acting differently lately? Ask the question: Are you OK? Help them seek support.

Where to get support for yourself or your friends

  • Talk to your year adviser or school counsellor/school psychologist.
  • Talk to a trusted adult.
  • Visit the Stay Healthy HSC hub, which has resources for studying and staying well.
  • If you feel anxious or overwhelmed, connect with one of these services:
    • ReachOut: Visit ReachOut.com.
    • Lifeline Australia: Visit lifeline.org.au or call 13 11 14.
    • Kids Helpline: Visit kidshelpline.com.au or call 1800 55 1800.

    Stay Healthy HSC

    The Stay Healthy HSC hub has study tips, wellbeing advice, news and support for the HSC and beyond.

    Stress Swaps: Ways to reduce exam stress

    Set up a reward system

    Who wouldn’t find it easier to escape into an eight-hour streamed series when you’ve hit a wall with your studies rather than push through it? But instead of denying yourself all distractions, try a work-and-reward system. For each hour of study, you could reward yourself with something: an episode of your fave show, an online game, or a FaceTime call with friends.

    <>Credit:reachout.com

    Sharing is caring

    Sometimes a natural reaction to stress is to switch off, shut down and tap out, by turning off your notifications and pretending that whatever is going on simply doesn’t exist. But, in times of stress, talking to people is typically the best way forward. Give your friends a chance to lend a hand by letting them know what’s up with you. If they’re aware that you’re having a tough time and aren’t travelling so well, they’ll check in with you more often.

    <>Credit:reachout.com

    Love the list

    Every school student knows that their brains are busiest JUST as they switch out the lights and try to fall asleep. All of a sudden, their minds are overcome by worries, concerns and thoughts, and sleep seems like a distant possibility. This is particularly true if they’re feeling anxious or nervous about an upcoming exam or assignment. Take back control by writing a checklist, before going to bed, of things you need to do and things you’re worried about. Putting them down on paper is a smart way to make big problems seem a little more manageable.

    <>Credit:reachout.com

    Clean smart

    There is no better way to buy time than by creating jobs that require your immediate attention: My assignment will have to wait because I MUST organise my bookshelves in alphabetical order! While a tidy workspace will help you to focus and concentrate – both of which are important for study/school – don’t get sucked into the trap of spending all day arranging and rearranging your desk. Try to pick an area to work that has some natural light and set up a space that is calming and free of clutter.

    <>Credit:reachout.com

    Supplied by ReachOut, where you’ll find more information, tools and tips on tackling study stress.

    Check out more resources that will help you stay healthy, stay active and keep connected during the HSC at the Stay Healthy Hub.

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