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School stress management: 7-action plan

During our middle school/high school journey, we acquire a lot of knowledge. Mathematics that most of us will never put into practice. Foreign languages that will remain rarely used, as well as points of history far from the tumults of our daily lives.

a student stressed in front of her computer
School stress management Nyon

Yet there is no school subject to understand our emotions. How does our mind work? What are its links with our body? Exams, tests, back to school, tensions between students: all this can cause stomach aches, shortness of breath, anxiety, sleep disturbances, etc. What is really happening? Why is this happening?

Certainly, all materials are useful because they shape our minds, strengthen our arguments, enrich our vocabulary and stimulate our dialectical sense. But the same is true for this subject... This subject is essential to our personal and academic development, because we are constantly confronted with extraordinary situations, good or bad: public speaking, evaluations, interviews , crisis situations, etc. Managing emotions during out-of-the-ordinary moments is an integral part of life.Exam time is rarely experienced as an exciting time in the moment, but looking back, it is often seen as an experience that allowed us to grow. When patients come to consult me in my practice in Nyon, it is generally in an emergency situation, because they are exhausted. Stressful factors have caused a level of stress that is too high and disabling. Unless it's a past trauma, it's often more about programming and relaxation techniques than psychotherapy.So why not discuss these topics when we're not in intense times? Just like a captain who maintains his ship when it is moored in port rather than during a storm on the high seas. Yes, it is during these moments of calm that we can work in depth on essential tools for our lives. Obviously in the urgency of the moment and this is most of the cases that I see, it is better to try to do a little than nothing at all.Understanding and mastering what is happening in our body during these critical moments is fundamental to optimizing our work and fostering the happiness that surrounds us. Let's not overlook the impact of emotions on our academic success and our overall well-being.

Stress, that feeling we hate so much, is actually just a set of functions that we have been using for 200,000 years for our survival. The problem is that today, these functions are inadequate. So we have to understand and adapt them.

We are ingenious machines, and stress is a turbo that optimizes the functions of our organs. Badly managed, it becomes a handicap, but well managed, it allows us to exceed our usual capacities.

School stress coach Nyon

Stress is a physiological or psychological alarm reaction to an out-of-the-ordinary situation, such as an end-of-year exam. We spend our schooling in quiet mode... and then the exam comes. This is a stereotypical and non-specific answer.The nonspecific aspect means that whatever the cause of the stress, our biological reaction will be the same: whether it is a test, an examination or of a dinosaur chasing us. This point is important when dealing with stress at school/university: orals, written tests can be perceived as dangerous or threatening, as if we were confronted with a dinosaur or a tribe attacking our village, so that we are simply sitting in front of our computer. Indeed, behind this exam, there are issues: to continue his studies, to achieve the job of our dreams, to face the pressure of society or family ("all his brothers succeeded, however...") .

Thus, the stress of exams presents certain aspects similar to the mental preparation for a sports competition: on D-Day, I must be ready and do everything possible so that all the variables that I master allow me to give the best of myself.From day one, I have to prepare my mind for this event, just as an athlete prepares for an annual competition. When the first tests or exams arrive, the candidates are young... It is not easy to expect a firm answer from them on the reason for their schooling, on the meaning of this academic approach.For me, the basis of mental preparation lies in the sense... Why am I doing this? What am I looking for behind this lens? So, in the face of adversity, pain, fear and anger, the athlete remains focused on his goal, because he has given meaning to it all... He is not just looking for a medal, he is much more than that. We are not just looking for a diploma, because it is not an end in itself... The exam opens doors towards our final objective.This lack of meaning represents a real difficulty.

Here is a 7-step action plan:

1. Make sense:

Why am I doing this? It is not easy to ask a young person what job he wants to do. But we can at least draw a bundle of ambitions: artistic, sporting, manual... Mathematics, history, French are present in all our professions... Look carefully. From there, we build a foundation. Indeed, a carpenter must know mathematics, the Baroque, the Napoleonic style, etc. And as far as languages are concerned: knowing how to speak with a client, expressing their arguments intelligently, in their own language but also in English.

2. Think ahead:

Thinking about what needs to be done to achieve my goal. Should I ask for help? Find a YouTube channel on mathematics... In short, I'm not waiting for a miracle by closing my eyes, I'm facing the situation today to ensure the minimum in 6 months. I conceptualize the gap between my current level and the one I must have on D-Day and I put a strategy in place.

3. Use tools to find calm:

I will use breathing or mind-body techniques given by relaxologists. Breathing is the only way to have control over our nervous system. Thus, breathing helps to regulate and rebalance our reaction to stress. The autonomic nervous system is, by definition, autonomous, therefore beyond our control, except through breathing! So let's use breathing as a Trojan horse to influence our autonomic nervous system. The cardiac coherence, through breathing at a certain rate (6 breaths per minute), balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic currents.

4. Rehearse the test as an actor rehearses his role:

Principle of neuronal plasticity. Our neurons connect to each other, and these connections change as we train for a specific task. At first, the connection is temporary and takes place thanks to chemicals around the neurons. With training, these temporary connections become more structural, and over time the neurons change shape and position. So the more we train, the more we develop a neural structure that makes us better at it. Therefore, by training ourselves mentally, we develop skills to do better, faster and in all circumstances.

5. Hygiene of life:

Sleep, nutrition, sport. Just like an athlete, what I do has an impact on my mental state. Sleep plays a fundamental biological role. It allows our body to cleanse itself by eliminating metabolic waste, especially that of the brain. We call this the "glymphatic" principle. Sleep helps us eliminate toxins such as lactate and molecules responsible for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. Nutrition also has an obvious impact. Junk food generates a more anxious body. Excess coffee, sugar and heavy food in the evening reduce the quality of sleep and therefore our ability to memorize, understand, synthesize, etc. Finally, sport: as we said, we are designed to release our emotions through movement... So get moving, breathe outside to revitalize your body and stop thinking about exams.

6. Self-esteem:

Self-esteem is generally based on two criteria: what I think of myself and what I do with my life. Self-esteem can be the gap between what we think we are and what we want to be. The higher this gap, the lower our self-esteem. Have you ever heard of this test carried out in two classes of the same level... The students take the same test, but in one class the teacher tells the students that the test is very difficult, and in the other class, he says he is easy... The grade averages show a difference between the two classes...

7. Self-confidence:

The more I advance in my self-confidence through action and achievement, the more I satisfy my self-esteem. So I make sheets, I test myself, I take my weaknesses into account and I put an action plan in place.


Of course, when I receive people in my office, we put in place a plan adapted to the profile of the person, the timing and the issues. School stress can seem like a tremendous test of life, but if it overwhelms us, it becomes a nightmare and can create anchors, anxiety that must be addressed immediately so as not to jeopardize important choices and moments. .

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