I recently received an e-mail from a student which read: 'Dear Jaime, I am feeling so much pressure from my exams because of the competitive environment at school. I am not the lowest achiever, but I am also not the smartest. I do OK, but when I get my results back I'm afraid to tell my classmates my marks because I know that those who get less than me will think I'm showing off. I know it is silly, but I worry about this so much. What can I do? Jon Do you feel like Jon does when it comes to competition at school? We are brought up in a competitive society. We compete in sports, in exams, getting into university, in the way we look, the clothes we wear and how much money we have. No wonder we get stressed out. Often life can feel like one big competition. Unfortunately, you can't eliminate competition, it will always be around. But there are ways you can minimise the stress that competition brings. A few tips Be confident of who you are: If you have a high self-esteem and you know that you have put in a 100 per cent effort, then you can relax because you have done your best. Your best is going to be different to your friends, your brothers and sisters. There will always be someone who does better and there will always be someone who does worse. The main person I encourage you to compete against is yourself. Push yourself to improve. Be an encourager: There is a quote that says rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. That is my definition of a good friend; someone who can be there for you through the ups and downs. Often people don't want to share their results because they know that the other person will not offer any encouragement. If you become an encouraging person, you will find that people will start to encourage you back. Learn to manage your emotions: Talk about your feelings and share with your friends the truth about the impact of competition. You will probably find that they feel the same way. Some teens manage their emotions by blowing up, some get angry, some go quiet and withdraw. If you manage your emotions that way, you'll end up getting more stressed. But if you learn to talk about it then you'll be able to get your stress out and not keep it inside of you. The above tips will help you minimise the effects of stress from competition.