It’s around this time of year that the pressure will be starting to build, I know this first hand. You’ll be preparing for end of year activities and big decisions will need to be made.
I found this time to be full of excitement and anticipation, but also very stressful. All the time spent studying and making big plans for your future means that it’s easy to forget about your health and wellbeing. By learning how to look after yourself now, you will be more prepared for your transition to university or work. I’m about to give you so tips, they are not revolutionary but we all need the occasional reminder, especially when life starts getting a little crazy.
- Put your phone down! I know, this is probably not what you want to hear. Being on your phone means you have information constantly coming your way in the form of messages, Snapchats, Instagram, Facebook…the list goes on. Constantly checking your phone is associated with increased stress levels1, so for the next week try not to jump on your phone every time you have a spare second and see the effect for yourself.
- Look after your body. I’m sure you all know that exercise and a healthy diet can help combat stress and fatigue. Try and swap the hour you spend in the Insta scroll hole with a 30 min walk and ditch the Maccas run for some fruit. I find that being active with friends helps my body and mind.
- Be organised and prioritise! It’s easy to get bogged down in to-do lists that add to stress. Firstly, try and limit your to-do lists to 4 or 5 items and make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based). I like to prioritise my work into 2 categories: ‘musts’ and ‘wants’. Finally, if something will take less than 5 minutes to do, do it now!
- Use your time wisely. There are a variety of study techniques available (just Google it!) and I’ve tried a few. My favourite is the ‘Pomodoro technique’. Essentially, you focus for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. Give a few time management techniques a go to find your fit. If you use your time wisely, that to-do list will dwindle and that's a good thing!
- Rest. Rest is so important and has been shown to help us combat stress. It’s important to rest your body and mind. To make your sleep quality better, put your phone down, read a book 30 minutes before sleep. Also, take a break from study every now and then and use the time to do something for yourself. Personally, I like going for a run and reading a good book. Again, it’s easy to spend this down time on the internet or social media, but this doesn’t do much to help your mind relax.
- Make use of your support network. This support network will be different for everyone, and that’s ok. It may include friends, family, teachers or other members of the community. The process of talking to someone about how you’ve been going (whether it’s good or bad!) is therapeutic in itself and it helps me to organise my thoughts.
This is by no means a complete list of tips to help you manage your health and wellbeing. It's simply a list of things that help me. So, give them a go and figure out what works for you.