Exam stress + family stress

How do I manage my feelings and emotions when my family is breaking apart and my exams are coming. I don’t know which to prioritise and I don’t know how to stop myself from breaking down every now and then.

Hi @aiir, thank you for reaching out. I hear that you are going through a stressful time right now and things have been taking a toll on you. I want to let you know that your feelings are valid and you are allowed to to be upset and cry if you wish to. It sounds like an overwhelming period and I can imagine it would be difficult to concentrate on your exams while dealing with issues at home. I imagine as well that these circumstances can make you feel helpless. However, know that you are not to be blamed. Issues with adults can be complex. As your exams are coming, it would be advisable to try to focus on studying for it as not putting in your best may end up making you feel worse later. Here are a few things you could do to help regulate your emotions in this period so that you’re able to focus better on what you want to do:

First, I want to encourage you to take care of yourself. That includes eating your meals on time, staying hydrated, getting sufficient rest and sleep, and even treating yourself to something nice or doing something you enjoy. This may seem like the last thing you should prioritise, but remember that self-care is important, especially during stressful times!

Next, if you feel the need to cry, go for it. It is okay that you feel upset, and it is okay to cry. Just not for too long or you won’t have the energy to do anything else. You could try setting a timer for how long to cry (I recommend anything less than 30min). When the timer is up, splash some water on your face and grab a drink of water to rehydrate. Crying is your body’s way of releasing pent up stress and negative emotions - so let it do its thing and you’ll feel better afterwards.

Alternatives to crying for releasing tension and stress from your body would be some form of physical activity. Some examples would be going for a jog, boxing exercises, stretching, and even dancing (my personal favourite!). Physical activity releases endorphins (a.k.a. happy hormones) in our brains which help with stress relief, calming down, and feeling happier overall.

If doing something physical seems too troublesome at the moment, you could try calmer activities like journalling. Penning down your thoughts and feelings can be a form of catharsis and help you feel more in control of your emotions.

Meditation is another calm activity you may wish to try quickly relax and calm your mind. Here are some tools for meditation to help you get started: (1) (https://mindline.sg/youth/?wysa_tool_id=soothe_your_mind) (2) (Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Workplace Mental Health | mindline.sg)

Lastly, to help you focus better when you’re studying, I would advise you to identify a designated study spot that is conducive for you. If home is not the best option at the moment, then perhaps you could try your school library, nearby regional libraries or any preferred space where there are minimal distractions. Studying with a group of close friends who can also provide support in this time could also help you focus and uplift you during this period. You could try a couple of study arrangements out and see what works best for you.

If it all starts getting too overwhelming, I urge you to reach out to your school counsellor or your preferred mental health Professional to manage during this difficult period.

I hope this helps! Take care of yourself and I wish you all the best.

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