Help! I’m a good student, so my friends and family don’t take my stress seriously

Dear Friend,

I’m genuinely grateful for everything I have achieved, but being a good student in a prestigious secondary school has turned into a massive mental burden. I’m under so much pressure with my school work, but no one seems to really understand. When I open up to my friends, they dismiss my worries by saying “Oh it’s just a test, you’ve always been a straight A student,” but this just adds to the pressure and makes me feel more misunderstood. I feel isolated from my peers, and they see me as an enemy to watch out for.

I try to talk to my parents, but they say, “Don’t feel pressured. At the end of the day, your happiness is what matters most.” I love that they are open-minded, but it’s easier said than done to just stop worrying. They get frustrated when I complain about the stress and tell me to be mentally stronger. Opening up doesn’t seem like a wise choice, but the pressure of being one of the top kids is so heavy. I have to get through school, do my never-ending tests, and deal with everyone’s expectations. What do I do?

Sincerely, Pressured

Dear Pressured,

Being understood is a basic human need, and it is frustrating to keep dealing with these misconceptions from your friends and family. Students are under a lot of pressure – including students who are
academically gifted – and it is perfectly reasonable for you to feel stressed out, and you shouldn’t feel bad or guilty about it. It is unfair that your parents say you should just be mentally stronger, and that your friends look at you as someone to compete against, and we’re sorry you need to deal with that. Here are a few tips we hope can help:

Treat yourself well

Get some rest. Take a walk. Have some fun. Doing simple things like this is a good start for taking care of yourself and relaxing. Anxiety can push people to keep running faster and faster, ignoring the basic things you need to do to take care of your body and mind. Sometimes the best thing to do is to slow down so that you can refresh.

Take your time and count your strengths

Academic achievement appears to be one of your most important goals right now – which is true for most students. Make a list of your strengths, both school and non-school related. Keep it somewhere easy to access. Maybe you can even tape it to a mirror in your bedroom so you can see it every day! This is a good way to remind yourself about all the things you’re good at.

Explore and enjoy

Pursue some healthy hobbies, genuine friendships, or anything else that interests you that has nothing to do with academics. Look for satisfaction and self-worth from multiple sources, not just school. People with balanced lives and positive interpersonal relationships are happier and more resilient.

It’s admirable that you were able to talk to us about your stress and frustration, and being able to do that is really important! It’s not healthy to keep those feelings bottled up inside. If your family and friends continue to dismiss your feelings, please reach out to organisations like 6PM Cyber Youth Support Team or Open Up.

You’ve got this, Friend of a Friend

This was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.
Source: Young Post