BlogWellbeingHow Natasha Overcame Anxiety to Achieve a 90+ ATAR!

How Natasha Overcame Anxiety to Achieve a 90+ ATAR!

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

We all experience stress and anxiety during the HSC. 

Art of Smart Coach of the Month, Natasha Fong, achieved an ATAR of 91.10 and now studies a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at Western Sydney University.

Like most of us, while completing her HSC, Natasha struggled with stress and anxiety, but found useful strategies to make it through and be accepted into WSU!

We recently spoke with Natasha so we could share some of these strategies with you!

So what are you waiting for? Let’s jump in!

HSC Experience

Overall, high school was a time of significant growth and enjoyment. I met many great friends who I am proud to know today who have shaped me and helped me grow into the person I am today.

High School wasn’t without its challenges though! As a teenager (and even as a university student and beyond) you’re still learning about who you are, what the world is like and your role in it. There were periods of time where I struggled with this however I had great teachers and family to help me out.

High school became quite challenging during my senior years. Due to a number of different stressors that had been piling up, I began to experience panic attacks surrounding the HSC and not doing as well as I wanted to. These panic attacks would come every day and I felt powerless to stop them and at a loss as to how to manage them.

I inflicted significant pressure and colossal amounts of stress on my own shoulders to be “perfect” and achieve my goals. Thankfully, I began seeing a counsellor who helped me manage this!

Looking back, I realise that the pressure I felt was all self-inflicted and that if only I had taken the time to acknowledge my feelings instead of bottling them up, the outcome may have been better.

Nevertheless, having such supportive year advisors, family and friends, I learnt to refrain from placing such pressure on myself and to simply try my best in the HSC.

Natasha’s Tips for Balancing Mental Health and the HSC

One of the main challenges I experienced during high school was the stress and anxiety I felt surrounding the HSC. To help with this, I did three main things:


Exercising helped me relieve stress and anxiety around the HSC and school. Getting that endorphin hit made me feel better, and gave me a chance to clear my head! Whether you’d enjoy a long run through your suburb, or a walk along the beach with the dog, any exercise works! Whatever works best for you is what you should be doing!

For some more tips on how to keep fit and healthy during the HSC check out this article! 

Seeking Help

I saw a counsellor who helped me manage the stress and anxiety I felt from putting a lot of pressure on myself over the HSC. While seeing a counsellor is often really helpful, you can seek help in other ways!

For example, having a chat with a close friend of family member, seeing your school counsellor or talking to a teacher that you trust works as well! Sometimes all you need is a good rant, but if you are worried about the issues you’re struggling with, remember there are a heap of people and organisations out there ready and willing to help!

If you’re struggling and want to speak with someone who can help you manage these issues, get in touch with KYDS Youth Development Service! 

You can visit their website, give them a call on 02 9416 0900, or email them at [email protected].

And for parents of kids in school or doing the HSC, check out our article on How to Talk to Your Teenager about Mental Health here.

Self Care

For me, my self-care methods included things like journalling, meditation and taking breaks from studying to do things I enjoyed!

Here are a bunch of ideas of things you can do as part of a self-care routine:

  • Take some time out to go for a walk, by yourself or with a friend or the dog!
  • Scratch off an easy task on your to-do list… even if it’s just making your bed!
  • Put on your favourite playlist and sing or dance along!
  • Get 15 minutes out in the sun – we all need that Vitamin D!

Ultimately, I learnt to take a step back from studying and recognise that everything in life needs a balance. I learnt that I couldn’t spend every waking hour of my life on that HSC paper without exercising, seeing my family or friends and isolating myself.

In addition to this, I found such hope in this guy named Jesus and through reading the bible and interacting with Christianity, I learnt that God was and is in control of my future even if I didn’t achieve my goals.

Are you looking for a tutor to help you ace the HSC?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a large variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!

Isabella Hanley loves science. She loves science so much she’s making it her career. While completing her Bachelor of Medical Science she is also a Coach and Digital Content Manager at Art of Smart. She is super passionate about sharing her knowledge on surviving the HSC since completing the HSC herself in 2014. In her downtime she enjoys Netflix binging like a pro, singing in the shower and baking cakes that are almost as tall as she is.

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