Help! How do I cope with anxiety and depression amidst ‘A’ Levels?
Anxiety and depressive disorders, stemming from academic stress, are increasingly prevalent among the younger generation these days. In recent times, such issues have also been given more attention and there are plans in place to strengthen the mental well-being of students and to also provide a better support network for struggling individuals. It is estimated that about 10% of people in Singapore suffer from anxiety and depressive disorders, so if you are experiencing symptoms, know that you are not struggling alone.
If you suspect that you are suffering from anxiety or depression, there are resources available to you. Schools have counselling units in place to support students and that can be your first port of call. Subsidised treatment for mental health disorders exists and the counsellors at your school will be able to direct you to the available options. If you are afraid of speaking to someone in-person, you can consider communicating via email.
Note that the main thrust of this article is not to provide comprehensive advice on how to cope with anxiety and depression in general, but to provide you with tips on how to manage academically despite your condition. Although it may be a struggle to cope with anxiety or depression alongside your studies, it is possible to perform well for the ‘A’-Level Examination even with your condition, so it is important that you do not lose hope!
Firstly, with anxiety or depression, it is important to keep yourself occupied so that your mind does not have the opportunity to wander to negative thoughts. Instead of studying alone after school, consider studying with a peer. If you have time to spare, you can also consider signing up for tuition classes for extra revision. Contrary to popular belief, tuition is not only targeted towards those struggling with studies. Some may opt for tuition in order to get extra exposure to the subject content, a second round of revision of what is taught at school and more practices. As frequently quoted, “practice makes perfect”. Even if you are already scoring decently for H2 Math, having the questions a H2 Math Tuition teacher has in his repository at your disposal will surely further improve your standing. It may be hard to grasp right now, but you can strive towards a future where you are able to put in more than the bare minimum to get through, but the best you can afford. Latch onto the hope that you can do more than you believe.
Next, seek help for the subjects and topics that you are weak in from your peers or tutors, or notes for lessons that you have zoned out on from a trusted peer. Rather than spending hours alone trying to wrap your head around a topic you do not understand, reach out for help. Reaching out for help does not mean you are a failure or that you are incompetent, everyone has their weaknesses and strengths. Even if you do not recognise it yourself, you have your own strengths that others see in you. If you feel you only require help in certain areas, some tuition centres offer crash courses for specific topics in a subject. For example, some H2 Math Tuition centres offer a one session or multiple sessions crash courses on vectors and complex numbers, topics that students struggle the most with. If you have a lot of your plate and weekly H2 Math Tuition does not work out for you, these crash courses may be just the thing you need. Remember, grit and determination will pay off – you will certainly improve if you tap on the right resources.
Third, speak to your tutors about your struggles you are facing. Although you may think that your tutors do not understand your circumstances, know that they have seen many students through the ‘A’-Level Examinations. Often times, depressive and anxiety disorders make it hard for you to keep on track and this means that you are unable to meet deadlines for project and homework submissions. A lack of motivation is commonly experienced by those struggling with depressive and anxiety disorders and this results in work piling up. It may be intimidating to broach the struggles you face with your tutor, but they are trained to respond to such issues and are likely to grant you extensions if you are genuinely struggling. These extensions will take a load off your shoulders, and hopefully give you the time you need to get back on track without feeling overly overwhelmed. If you feel hesitant to talk to your school tutors, you can consider starting with your H2 Math Tuition teacher, or other tuition teachers. He or she will be more than willing to offer you a piece of their wisdom. Perhaps a conversation with your H2 Math Tuition teacher may be what you need to get the ball rolling and give you the courage to strike up conversations with your school tutors for assistance.
Even with the abovementioned, it may still be hard for you to feel motivated academically and get yourself out of the rut. This struggle may be more applicable to those who have been suffering with anxiety or depression for a while now. For those who find it hard to get motivated, you can come up with a schedule or a to-do-list and commit to fulfilling the objectives you have identified. A lack of motivation may make it hard for you to get started, let alone complete your tasks, but it does not mean that you are unequipped to do so. Even if you don’t feel like starting, tell yourself you must and once you get over the hurdle of procrastination, the rest will come more naturally. Your greatest enemy is your mind and you must vanquish the negative thoughts telling you that you cannot succeed, that you have too much to finish and too little time before the ‘A’-Level Examinations, that it is impossible for you to perform well. Nothing is set in stone and you really will never know until you try.
All that being said, it should be highlighted that it is critical for you to seek help for your condition as soon as possible, from a mental health professional such as a counsellor or at the very least, a trusted adult, and not delay it to a later date. They will be able to provide you with therapeutic techniques for your condition, such as grounding (ie the 5-4-3-2-1 technique), the progressive muscle relaxation technique, havening and many others. These techniques will help you cope better with your condition and provide you respite in difficult times. It is not good bottling up your emotions so you should find an avenue to express yourself. By finding ways to manage anxiety and depression, you will discover that you are better able to focus on your daily tasks and you will have a clearer head to think. Hence, it is key that you seek the help you need. Even “minor” conditions are worth treating, lest you leave the symptoms to fester and worsen overtime. Remember that you are not any less for suffering from anxiety or depression and that it does not make you “weaker” than your peers. Everyone meets with their own struggles and have their own battles to overcome.
Know that your parents, teachers, including your H2 Math Tuition teacher, peers and the rest of your family members, are all here to support you and care for you in this journey, so not be afraid to reach out!