You squeeze your name into the boxes on the cover and turn to page one. The ten minutes reading time has begun.

Ohhhhh no.

Oh, sheeeet.

I have absolutely no idea what that even means.

Pretty sure we never studied this text.

Did we? Is it even a text? Maybe it’s a film…

Your breathing quickens. You look frantically around the silent exam hall hoping to catch a glimpse of someone else who doesn’t know what the heck is going on.

You start to sweat.

This is worth 20 marks?

You reckon if you can at least introduce the concept and bullshit a little about the colour of a curtain you could get five, and that’s generous.

That leaves you with 15 marks for Question 2 in order to pass this section and from what you can see, Question 2 doesn’t look good either.


The anxiety begins to take hold now. You’re thinking about the repercussions of failure. You’re thinking about your parent’s disappointment, about your teacher’s dismay. You can hear the clock’s incessant ticking. You’re starting to dwell on the fact that you’re anxious and that anxiety is bad and how sometimes it gets so bad that you can’t control it. Like that time you had a panic attack in the quad for reasons you can’t quite describe. You’re scared that maybe this is one of those times.

You wipe your sweaty hands on your school pants.

The lady up the front smugly announces that you can pick up your pen and start writing and your anxiety reaches its peak…

It’s very easy to point the finger at technology for the rise in anxiety amongst Gen Y and Z. You can’t concentrate because you flick between hyperlinked web pages at a rapid pace. You can’t maintain ‘real life’ friendships because you store them in the inbox of an artificial online world. You can’t choose the right shampoo because you’re so inundated with choice and flooded with articles from social media about good brands and bad brands that you’re left hazy in the supermarket isle. You walk through the city and hundreds of suited professionals are rushing past you on their phones and you wonder where they’re going and whether you should be rushing too.

We need to stop shifting the blame and justifying our anxiety on technology when we hold the power to prevent the stresses that come with excessive reliance.

So what are some ways we combat this increasing anxiety, particularly in the context of school and learning? How can we focus better in class and stay calm when faced with situations of stress?

1. Put your phone away

Turn it off so you don’t get distracted because @cuteinstagramcrush liked your latest upload. When you’re studying, take it out of the room. Don’t pull it out in class. Commit to the resistance and reject your addiction.

2. There’s an app for that

There are plenty of apps available to help you with anxiety–from breathing exercises to immediate assistance during an anxiety attack. Learn to get your breathing under control.

3. See your school counsellor

They’re trained to deal with this stuff; they’ve got a head full of knowledge and a heart willing to help. Don’t stigmatise ‘seeing someone’ and don’t hold back because you think it’s ‘uncool’.

4. Monitor your eating habits

You’re either a binger or a forget-to-eater. Your diet is more important than you realise. 2 fruits, 5 veges! Exercise is also a major stress reliever, even just walking can help you clear your head.

5. Maintain a positive lifestyle

Make time to see friends and family and talk to them about real stuff. Relax alone. Study hard. Don’t box yourself in and drown in pressure because soon enough the box will burst and you’ll anxiously scramble to pick up the broken pieces.

Stress and anxiety are good–it motivates us to work hard and reminds us to focus on some important elements of our lives that need attention. The excess is bad. Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self and organise a routine now before you’re left cramming and facing an anxiety that you may have been able to prevent.

If you or someone you know needs help, or simply a listening ear, jump onto Youth Beyond Blue–you can phone them on 1300 22 4636 or chat online.