How To Help GCSE & A-level Students Stay Energised And Prevent Burn Out

How To Help GCSE & A-level Students Stay Energised And Prevent Burn Out

As parents, there’s no doubt that we desire the very best for our children, especially when it comes to their education. And with the demands of the GCSE and A-level exams, it is natural for students to feel overwhelmed and stressed. If young people are not properly guided through dealing with stress, it might lead to burnout. The best thing to do as a parent or carer, is to provide the support that they need in order to help them overcome stress and prevent burnout.

It’s still important to keep in mind the significance of this phase in their educational journey, as young people tend to feel a lot of pressure when doing their GCSE and A-Levels. The pressure to perform well can be immense, from managing the exam schedules to coping with academic expectations, this phase presents heavy responsibilities to young people, and if they are not prepared and assisted to cope and overcome this pressure, they can overwork themselves, leading them to experience burnout.

While academic prowess is undeniably important, it should not come at the expense of your child’s well-being. As you read on, we will explore how you can alleviate your teen’s stress and workload during this delicate period of their academic journey. We will also explore the signs of burnout in teens and how you can assist your teen to succeed without sacrificing their mental health.

What are the signs of burnout in GCSE and A-level students?

Burnout can happen if your teen has sustained long-term overwhelm or stress caused by school work, assignments, exam preparation or the pressure to get good results and succeed.  

According to a 2021 report by Anastasija Dojchinovska, 73% of teachers believe student mental health has worsened since the introduction of the reformed GCSEs and 55% of teachers believe that mental health has worsened among students since the reforms of the A-Level exams.

Some of the signs of burnout in teens are physical and mental exhaustion, irritability, frustration and self-isolation. You may notice your child studying for many hours on a daily basis without adequate rest between revision sessions, and they may begin to experience persistent fatigue, struggles to concentrate, irritability over things that previously did not frustrate them and feeling constantly worn out. At that point, it is crucial for you to recognise this as burnout and begin to tackle it as soon as possible, as prolonged burnout can have detrimental effects on both academic performance and overall well being.

Remember: Burnout does not go away automatically, it has to be tackled intentionally. So what can you do as a parent to help your teen prevent burnout and stay energised?

1. Establish Healthy Habits

Establishing healthy habits for your teen is a foundational aspect of supporting their academic success and overall well-being. Encourage your teen to consume a variety of foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods not only boost brain function but also help maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day, allowing your teen to remain focused and engaged in their studies.

Hydration is another key element in maintaining cognitive function and overall health. Make sure your teen drinks plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and alert. Regular physical exercise is equally important, as it not only improves physical health but also serves as a natural stress reliever. It can help clear their mind, increase energy levels, and improve concentration. Additionally, quality sleep is crucial for cognitive function and emotional stability. Encourage your teen to establish a consistent sleep schedule that allows for adequate rest each night. By nurturing these healthy habits, you can help your teen manage stress, enhance their academic performance, and prevent burnout.

2. Encourage Open Communication

When your child knows they have a safe space to express their concerns and feelings, it can ease their emotional burden and help them process their thoughts more effectively. Encourage your teen to talk openly about their school experiences, any challenges they may be facing, and their feelings about upcoming exams. You can ask them about their study habits and if they are encountering any obstacles, and then listen actively to their responses. 

By creating a judgement-free environment, your teen will feel more comfortable sharing their struggles with you, which can alleviate feelings of isolation and stress. Through open communication, you can also identify potential signs of burnout early and work together to establish healthy coping strategies. By being present and engaged in your teen’s academic journey, you can offer valuable advice and resources to help them succeed without sacrificing their well-being.

3. Teach Them Stress Management Strategies

As exams and academic pressures mount, teenagers may experience heightened stress and anxiety, making it essential for parents to be more involved and attentive to their needs. In addition to having open communication, introducing your teen to various stress management techniques can help them navigate challenging situations. 

For instance, deep breathing exercises can provide immediate relief from stress by calming the nervous system and allowing them to regain focus. Mindfulness meditation can help them stay present and manage their thoughts and emotions more effectively. Walking outdoors or spending time in nature can provide a refreshing break from academic pressures and boost their mood. By incorporating these practices into their daily routine, your teen can build resilience, better manage stress, and cultivate a sense of inner calm, all of which are essential for preventing burnout and promoting overall well-being.

4. Limit Technology Use 

With constant access to smartphones, tablets, and computers, teens can easily become overwhelmed by information overload and distractions. Setting boundaries around technology use can help your teen focus on their studies and maintain a healthy balance between their academic and personal life. Encourage your teen to turn off electronic devices during study sessions and establish tech-free zones or times in your home, such as during meals or before bedtime. By teaching your teen to limit their technology use, you can help them prioritise their mental health and focus on what truly matters—achieving their goals and maintaining their overall well-being.

5. Set a Well Organised Study Schedule

It is crucial to avoid them overworking as they work towards deadlines and their academic responsibilities increase. You can help them set a weekly or monthly study calendar and allocate their study times, revision sessions and other school related activities, including regular breaks and sufficient time to rest. This will help them avoid having long marathon study sessions that could end up overworking them. Ensure that you also allocate time for social activities, relaxation, and exercises in order to boost their energy levels. Additionally, if your child does some home chores, you can help them by reducing it, if possible, so that they can have more time and energy to prepare for their academic responsibilities. You can check out this blog on our website to get more insights about helping your teen to effectively manage their time.

6. Help Them To Set Realistic Goals and Priorities

When goals are unrealistic, it gives them a lot of pressure to overwork themselves in order to reach them. And when they notice that despite their efforts, they are still not getting there, they get stressed, anxious, and discouraged, thinking that they are incapable! This can also further affect their self-esteem. Sit down with your child, ask them what they want to achieve and help them set realistic goals by breaking them down into small and achievable tasks they can complete. The more they achieve those easy tasks, the more they will be encouraged by those small wins. You can enhance their encouragement further by giving them simple rewards for achieving their tasks. This keeps them motivated and fuels them to keep their eyes on their goals.

7. Prioritise and Plan Relaxation

Intentional self care and relaxation reduce the chances of burnout. As much as your teen will be focusing on their GCSE and A-Levels, they shouldn’t be solely busy with school activities. A healthy balance will play a vital role in preventing burnout and keeping them energised. Whether it’s bike riding, reading books, or pursuing their hobbies and interests, doing activities that make them laugh and happy will help to take their mind off of exam stress and allow them to reflect and refocus on their goals with renewed energy. You and your teen need to prioritise and allocate time for other activities outside of studying. By doing this, they will have a mental balance which will help them to prevent high frustration levels and burnout.

With this information, you can provide significant help to your teen during their GCSE and A-Levels. Additionally, you can read this blog on our website as it provides more tips and strategies that can be equally useful for you and your teens.

At GT Scholars, we are passionate about helping young people to discover, develop and deploy their unique potential and achieve their aspirations both academically and professionally. We do this through various programmes and events that bring remarkable value to our scholars. To find out more about our programmes, click here.

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