Help & Crisis Support
Remember, if it is an emergency or life is in danger, please call 000.


Crisis support with a key focus on suicide prevention in Australia (available 24/7)

13 11 14


Information on depression, anxiety and how to help yourself or a friend. Telephone, online and email support available (available 24/7)

1300 22 4636

Suicide Call Back Service

Free nationwide professional telephone and online counselling for anyone affected by suicide, or suicidal thoughts (available 24/7)

1300 659 467

Lifeline NZ

Offers crisis support helpline services as well as face-to-face counselling (available 24/7)

0800 543 354

Academic Stress

Home > Academic Stress

I’m really anxious about exams – there’s so much information and I can’t remember half of it!

I feel like I’m really stressing about assignments/study and everyone else is doing just fine dealing with it all.

Medical students are accustomed to being high-achieving students in high school or university, so entering medicine, where your classmates have similar abilities, can be unsettling. This competition, coupled with an academically demanding and often emotionally draining course, can make you question your own competence, and lead to stress and anxiety.

This is natural, and up to a certain point stress and anxiety can in fact improve performance and increase motivation. However, once these levels of stress and anxiety start impacting negatively on your daily activities, relationships and quality of life, they become an issue that needs to be addressed.

What can you do about it?

Look after yourself

Seems obvious, but often this can become less of a priority if you’re preoccupied with anxiety or stress. Neglecting yourself and your needs will only make you feel worse, and lessen your capacity to deal with any problems.

  • Stay connected with friends, family and partners.
  • Maintain regular exercise, a balanced diet and adequate sleep.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake
  • If you’re not used to exercising regularly, consider downloading free exercise apps like ‘Couch to 5km’ to help you get started.
  • The website has links to healthy recipes, Victorian bike routes, walks and parks and meal and activity planners.
Breathing Exercises
  • Sit or stand, ensure body is relaxed – drop shoulders, relax jaw
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose and count to four, keep your shoulders down and allow your stomach to expand as you breathe in
  • Hold the breath for a moment
  • Release your breath slowly and smoothly as you count to seven
  • Repeat for about 5mins
Muscle Relaxation Exercises
  • Starting at your feet, tense the muscles in your feet, hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 2 more times
  • Then move up to your calves etc. – slowly work your way around your body until you have tensed and then relaxed all the muscles in your body
Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Current research suggests that meditation and mindfulness may be useful adjunctive tools for dealing with anxiety, stress and mood symptoms.
  • A 2009 meta-analysis examining a total of 1,140 participants found that mindfulness-based therapy resulted in a statistically significant, moderate improvement in anxiety and mood symptoms.
  • Similarly, another meta-analysis conducted in 2012 involving 163 studies indicated that meditation also had a moderate effect in improving anxiety and stress.
Study Groups
  • Group study is very popular amongst med students due to the sheer volume of content to cover, group study facilitates a divide and conquer type of approach
  • Duke University have a great info sheet with tips on how to form a successful study group
Seek Professional Help
  • GPs are a great point of call to discuss available tools and options when dealing with anxiety. Look up bulk-billing GPs on the following websites
  • The Victorian Doctors Health Program is a confidential service for doctors and medical students who have health concerns such as stress, mental health problems, substance use problems, or any other health issues. Visit the VDHP website here:
  • Lifeline is a national organisation providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Visit the Lifeline website here:
  • It is important to remember that this list is by no means exhaustive, and health professionals such as GPs may be able to provide more options. Furthermore, these options will not necessarily work equally well for everyone. The best thing you can do is choose an option that you feel most comfortable with, and if is not as effective or tolerable as you would like, try another option.

Copyright © 2014 Australian Medical Students' Association. All Rights Reserved