Pressure and Stress – Is there a Difference?

It’s that time of year where lots of young people start to feel the pressure as GCSE and A Level exams start to become a reality and the clock starts ticking.

Coaching my students in this final stretch is always challenging and pressure and stress are words that regularly feature. What I do know is that the current school environment is very different to when I was at secondary school. The pressure on young people today to do well and achieve excellent grades is phenomenal. I agree that some of this can come from teachers and parents but it can also come from the young person themselves.

Pressure from social media, a competitive job market and high property prices were not something that I had to contend with, but they are certainly prominent in today’s environment.

Self-awareness and understanding are the main areas that I coach my students on to enable them to develop strength and resilience so that they can flourish as they progress through their education.

Knowing the difference between pressure and stress means they can then select the most effective tools and strategies from their toolbox in order to maintain a balanced life.

Pressure is what young people feel when they have deadlines and goals regarding coursework and exams. This pressure can be managed and is under their control as long as they:

  • Understand what sort of student they are, what makes them tick and what works for them
  • Completely understand what is required of them
  • Use specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related goals
  • Use the 3 P’s – Planning, Preparation and Practice
  • Maintain a good work/fun balance
  • Remove interruptions (social media, phones and technology) so that they can stay focused

When stressed my students experience a lack of control and the fear of the unknown can be rather daunting. Quite often they are not sure what is required of them and they feel anxious and overwhelmed which can lower productivity and output. When stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol which reduces brain activity affecting attention span, concentration and can lead to short-term memory loss. Maintaining a manageable stress level is crucial if young people are to succeed in their exams.

If you know a young person that is feeling stressed about school and exams, and it is affecting their productivity and well-being then please contact me.