Anxiety & Exams
Thousands of young Australians are facing final exams and the big wait for final exam results.
headspace has issued a timely reminder to thousands of young Australians about the effects of anxiety during exam periods and while they wait for final exam results.
Currently, students across Australia are completing their last weeks of school and university.
Anxiety affects many young people during exams and can be heightened as students wait for results and further education offers.
This period of waiting and worrying can affect a young person’s mental health and wellbeing.
Vikki Ryall, Head of Clinical Practice at headspace, said during this particular period anxiety can impact any young person, including those who are normally on top of life’s challenges.
“Anxiety becomes a problem when it occurs frequently, feels overwhelming and interferes with daily functioning,” Ms Ryall said. “For some people, if left untreated, anxiety disorders can develop into other mental health difficulties and can lead to disease, drug and alcohol misuse.”
People who believe they have an anxiety disorder should visit a doctor, or seek professional advice.
Hannah Cheers, 23, a headspace Youth National Reference Group member, has suffered anxiety but through guided self-help techniques has learnt how to help with her anxiety when it surfaces.
“I always try and keep in mind that there are reasons why you might be feeling anxious and those feelings are valid,” said Hannah. “Using mindfulness, understanding your senses…doing something that makes you feel grounded can really help.”
Read Hannah’s full story below.
Tips for helping with anxiety:
Keep in touch with friends, even if it just a little bit every day
Do daily exercise – walking is a great way to clear your head
Eat a balanced diet
Try breathing exercises, mindfulness or guided relaxation
Find things that help de-stress you
Anxiety is one of the two most common problems affecting young people
It’s estimated one in five females and one in ten males aged between 16 and 24 years old are affected by anxiety.
Young people may be more likely to experience anxiety if they have another mental health issue, such as depression.
Early detection and treatment is important to reducing the negative impact anxiety can have
Hannah Cheers: My Story
headspace Youth National Reference Group Age 23
I’ve had depression for around 10 years and I started experiencing anxiety around 19 years-old when I started university.
I had my first full-blown panic attack on the first night alone in my dorm room which lasted about an hour. I was shaking and my heart was racing and I was really sweaty. It was very scary as I didn’t know what was going on, but eventually it finished and I went to sleep, but
I was still very confused about what happened.
I felt isolated in that I didn’t really know anyone at the time. But, talking about it now everyone in my life has experienced anxiety and you find there a lot of other people who are in the same boat as you.
I was able to learn a bit more about anxiety through doing my own research and talking to my doctor, which helped me understand how to manage what I was dealing with. After I reflected upon things, I realised what I was going through was huge. These were massive life changes, which of course was going to make me feel overwhelmed and that it was normal.
My doctor also referred me to a psychologist and I spoke to her about some different strategies of how to manage anxiety. I have also spoken to other friends about understanding your senses and mindfulness, where you think about the things that you can hear or see – doing something that makes you feel grounded.
Being able to breathe deeply and focus on the breath is good. However, everyone is very different. I like a hug when I’m feeling anxious or having an anxiety attack – but not everyone does and that’s OK. I always try and keep in mind that there are reasons why you might be feeling anxious and those feelings are valid and you’re going to be OK.
Sometimes the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling a bit low or anxious is talk about it. You don’t want to make it worse or inflate your own issues and if you’ve had an experience where someone has made you feel your feelings are invalid, you put yourself in a position of risking that again if you do talk about what you’re going through. But it’s important to find people in your life that are not going to invalidate your feelings. Now that I know who those people are for me, it’s been a really great way to help with my anxiety.
There are people out there who do have a greater understanding of mental health issues, there are support services. And if you’ve got a GP who isn’t able to help, try another one or find a service that is right for you.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, visit headspace.org.au to find your local centre or call or contact eheadspace on 1800 650 890 or eheadspace.org.au.