Jaida Way is not immune to feeling the stress of studying for her HSC exams.
But the Woonona High School captain takes some comfort from the fact she is not alone in having to deal with the added pressure of being in lockdown.
The 18-year-old is among some 50,000 Year 12 students who have to do remote learning for at least the next fortnight, heading into their HSC exams in October.
Psychology Professor Viviana Wuthrich from Macquarie University's Centre for Emotional Health has led a major research project tracking stress, depression and anxiety in over 600 young people during their final year of secondary school.
Her research highlights strategies to help HSC students lower their lockdown stress levels.
Results found that between 20 to 30 per cent of students experienced severe distress over the course of their final year, and symptoms of stress and anxiety increased over time.
"The pandemic has introduced further stress with uncertainty around lockdowns, concerns about safety and older family members and the repeated changes to things like exam timetables," Professor Wuthrich said.
"There are a number of things we know about managing HSC stress that will apply to this cohort, even though they're in a unique situation with lockdown."
Jaida for one has benefitted greatly from following some of Prof Wuthrich's strategies for coping with lockdown learning.
She has also appreciated the efforts of her school and teachers in "trying to keep things as normal as it would be in a classroom".
"A lot of our teachers are delivering their whole lessons over a virtual Microsoft team's call, so it has been a lot better than a lot of other schools I know," Jaida said.
"But most importantly I have been making sure that I take care of my mental health through all of this. That's one of the key things the professor [Wuthrich] mentions.
"I've done this by trying to get out of the house and going for a walk every day. I have also done something that takes my focus away from schoolwork just to make sure I'm not getting too overwhelmed with everything."
Jaida has also made sure to stay in contact with friends and family.
"Not losing that connection while in lockdown is important. Having this connection has been a great help."
To keep in touch with friends is one of Professor Wuthrich's 10 strategies for coping with lockdown learning.
We are all in the same boat, we've all got the same struggles at the moment, so I'm sure if we all work together and talk to each other, we will come out of this a lot stronger.Jaida Way
The other strategies are balance study and life, keep to a routine, prepare yourself (and your brain) for learning, there's no such thing as multi-tasking, so switch off the music, exercise your stress cortisol away, find the positives, take a tip from grandma, ask for help and remember the situation will pass.
"Remember that it's not too long before lockdown will be over, and the HSC will be over, and all this will be in the past," Prof Wuthrich says.
The same strategy can apply to lockdown, even if it drags on for six or eight weeks.
"In lockdown, for example, we're talking about something that's going to go on for perhaps another three weeks - you have already done three weeks of this; and you actually did this last year - and it sucked, but you can definitely get through it again."
Jaida has taken this advice on board.
"We are all in the same boat, we've all got the same struggles at the moment, so I'm sure if we all work together and talk to each other, we will come out of this a lot stronger."
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