Stressed and Overwhelmed About My Grades

Published: February 22, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I'm from the UK and I'm 16 which means that I'm currently in the middle of completing my GCSE's and all my teachers are constantly putting me down because I'm not reaching the grades that a computer thought I should be getting based off of previous results, and it's putting so much stress on me that I'm becoming so overwhelmed and I have this constant weight on my chest sometimes making it feel hard to breathe, I start to get tears in my eyes but I have to stop myself because I'm in the middle of a lesson and I don't want anyone to know, I would be so embarrassed. And for the past few months I've been crying myself to sleep almost every night feeling so down and not myself. I cant tell my parents about it because they'll think I'm just wanting attention saying that this is the girl they raised or I'm making it up so explain why my grades aren't perfect like my brothers were. I don't know what to do. I need help but I don't know where to turn to.
Signed: Stressed and Overwhelmed About My Grades

Dear Stressed and Overwhelmed About My Grades,

TeenHealthFX can certainly appreciate that you have been feeling stressed and close to tears lately. High school can be a very stressful time for adolescents with all of the academic pressures and juggling of very packed schedules. Being in the middle of completing your GCSE’s is understandably stressful, but on top of that it does not seem you have any support from the adults around you. You have not been experiencing your parents as supportive adults you can turn to and your teachers are saying things that are making you feel like some kind of failure. Stressful situations are hard enough to deal with, but to go through it alone and with negative comments from the adults around you is way too much to ask of anyone, especially a child or teenager.

TeenHealthFX would like to recommend the following:

Have a discussion with your teachers or speak with a school counselor who can advocate for your needs with your teachers. It is important that you or a counselor at school inform them that the way in which they are responding to you is not helping to motivate you to get higher scores, but rather it is breaking you down.

Speak with your parents about the situation. Start out by letting them know that there is something you would like to speak to them about, but that you are concerned they are going to minimize or dismiss what is going on for you. Let them know that you would like them to take seriously what you need to discuss with them and that you need their support. Once you have laid that out, then let them know how the stresses of school are impacting you. You could even show them this question/answer to get the conversation going. If you have trouble speaking to your parents about this on your own, you could ask a school counselor to have them come into school so you could all meet to discuss this.

Let a counselor or school nurse know what is going on with you. That person could serve both as a support during this difficult time, as well as someone who can advocate on your behalf with your teachers and with your parents.

Speak with some close friends about your situation. FX would imagine that you have friends dealing with similar stressors. Often it can feel helpful to speak to people who can relate so you are not feeling so alone in what you are going through.

Learn some mindfulness and meditation techniques. These techniques can be helpful when done on a regular basis, as well as during moments where you feel particularly stressed or emotional. You can use these techniques before tests, in class when you feel close to tears, or anywhere else that is helpful. There are some helpful meditation apps, including Stop, Breathe and Think, Smiling Mind, Take a Chill, and Take a Break!.  

Work towards having compassion for yourself. In moments when you are feeling down on yourself or are beating yourself up over something school-related, say something kind to yourself. Imagine what you might say to a friend who came to you feeling the same way and say that same thing to yourself. You might say something to yourself like, “I know school can be stressful, but I am trying my best and I have been trying to do everything and cope without the full support that I need.”

Set realistic expectations for yourself when it comes to school and remember that nobody is perfect. Also remind yourself that the person whose opinion counts the most is your own – not your teachers or parents or anyone else who is putting unnecessary pressure on you.  

If you find that you continue to have trouble managing the stress, and/or your parents are not able to be a source of support for you, then consider meeting with a reputable mental health professional for individual and/or family therapy. A school counselor or your doctor should be able to recommend a reputable local therapist.


For learn more about stress and ways to manage it, read the TeensHealth article on Stress.

Signed: TeenHealthFX