Academic Stress in Students
Cues to ensure and assure a stress-free academic environment for students.
School education is a very important part in an individual’s life and is also a turning point in their academic life. At this stage, the academic performance of a student plays a crucial role in deciding the next stage of their education, which in turn shapes their career. An excess of academic stress during this stage can result in adverse effects that are far-reaching and prolonged.
In today’s highly competitive world, students face various academic problems including exam stress, disinterest in attending classes and the inability to understand a subject. Academic stress involves mental distress regarding anticipated academic challenges or failure or even the fear of the possibility of academic failure. Academic stressors show themselves in many aspects in the students’ environment: at school, home, in their peer relations and even in their neighbourhood.
Excessive levels of academic stress can result in an increased prevalence of psychological and physical problems like depression, anxiety, nervousness and stress related disorders, which in turn can affect their academic results. Anxiety as a disorder is seen in about 8% of adolescents and children worldwide. Anxiety and stress have a substantial negative effect on their social, emotional and academic success. Depression is becoming the most common mental health problem college students suffer these days. It is also a reflection of an individual’s academic frustration, academic conflict, academic anxiety and academic pressure. The four components of academic stress usually identifiable in a student are academic frustration, academic conflicts, academic anxieties and academic pressures.
According to most high school students, their greatest academic stressors include tests, grades, homework, academic and achievement expectations and parental pressure. School related stresses include inadequate instructional methods, teacher-student relationships, heavy academic workload, poor physical classroom environments, inability to balance one’s leisure time with school, and disorganization surrounding academic assignments and schedules. Additional sources consist of a struggle to meet academic standards, worries about time management and concerns over grades and scores. Students are thus, seen to be affected by the negative causes of academic stress.
The mental health of students, especially in terms of academic stress and its impact, has become a serious issue among school and policymakers because of the increasing incidence of suicides among students across the globe. The Lancet Report states that, India has the world’s highest suicide rates among the youth. Parental pressure for better academic performance is found to be mostly responsible for academic stress. Due to the constant pushing of the student by the parents in order to perform better in both academics and extra-curricular activities, some children develop deep-rooted nervous disorders during their childhood.
Academic and exam stress is found to be positively correlated with parental pressure and psychiatric problems. It is important to remember that the mental constitution or coping capacities vary from one child to another. Therefore, children with poor coping capacities become more prone to anxiety, depression and fear of academic failure and this shows us that one should not compare one student with another.
Looking at these high levels of academic stress in students which can also lead to psychological disorders, there is an urgent need to develop suitable interventions and solutions to reduce this level of stress and psychiatric morbidity.
Here are some ways for students to manage and overcome academic stress:
1) Always have something to look forward to everyday and it doesn’t always have to be something big. This helps to have a reason to anticipate the next day and thus cope with academic stress better.
2) Studies have shown that a regular exercise routine often decreases symptoms of depression and stress. So exercise and sports, YES.
3) Create a proper schedule that will help you manage your academics and other activities in a more efficient manner.
4) Understand your academic capabilities, what is expected of you and try not to have unreasonable expectations.
5) Surround yourself with positive people, ALWAYS.
Anoushka Thakkar is a Research Associate (Mental Health) at One Future Collective.