As much as I want to start by stating I have always been a completely organised student with every aspect of my life under control, that will be far from the truth. For the majority of my high school and A level life, I struggled with balancing my revision, sleep, homework and social life. I learnt along the way that even the student who seems to always know what they are doing, faces ups and downs when it comes to school. As much as it doesn’t feel like it, it really is normal.
At school, it’s a common case that we feel in competition with our peers. We don’t necessarily admit it, but when stress hits, work gets hard and tiredness strikes, we groan and question ‘why does this have to be so hard for me?’. Walking into school the next day, it seems like everyone else is doing just fine but you feel like you’re on the verge of a mental breakdown. There’s just too much to do, so much work left to complete and such less time to do everything. Believe me, I’ve been there.
For the early part of my high school life, I would say I was a pretty care free student. Homework – fine. The workload – fine. Social life – fine. By the time I got to GCSE’s, things got a whole lot harder and took a turn downhill. It became difficult to keep on top of all the work demands from every subject. My sleep routine – what even was that? Did I even have one? By the end of the school day, I was shattered but nap time wasn’t an option because I knew there was so much revision I needed to do. Consequently, my mental health wasn’t the greatest and I felt like I was getting very less time to take care of myself. I knew there were some changes I needed to make because if I continued in that state, things would get much worse. And I really couldn’t risk that, especially with exams coming up.
Within time, I adapted to new habits that I took with me from my high school life to my college life. As cliche as it sounds, these habits really did change my life. They allowed me to feel healthier, work better and all round, be better. Of course, different strategies work for different people. Whilst I benefited in putting my hand up more often to ask the teacher additional questions, not all students have the confidence to do so. I’ve compiled a list of 5 things that every student can take note from and start doing. Whether your situation is the same as mine was at this moment in time, or if it happens to be the case as you transition to a different school year, I can guarantee you that they will help.
- As I mentioned earlier, ask your teacher questions. Now that’s easier said than done because having to put your hand up whilst everyone else is watching, being afraid your question might sound stupid, can be off-putting. The good thing is that teachers are available after class, during break times and after school. I’d advise making a list of questions you have about the lesson and going back to the teacher to find the answers. If there is something you didn’t quite understand, ask your teacher to repeat it in simpler terms or send you the PowerPoint so that you can work through it independently and make your own notes.
- Get organised. Organisation really is the basic key to a healthier lifestyle. You don’t necessarily have to keep a diary and plan your days, but set yourself a routine including both self care and work. Set yourself specific goals of the day with timings, for example ‘30 minutes of memorising the 9 circle theorems’, ‘15 mins completing a circle theorems test’ and aim to accomplish them at the end of your study session. To be able to do this effectively, you also have to ensure you free yourself of possible distractions. Whether that includes putting your phone in a different room or completely switching it off, remember that you’re unlikely to achieve your goals when it’s there. Discipline yourself to ignore your phone whilst you study.
- Sleep. As obvious as it is, getting a good nights sleep of 7/8 hours is important. Not only does it prevent being tired the next day, it also enhances your learning ability. Although scientists are not aware of the brains exact habits whilst sleeping, they have theorised that the brain stores information whilst you sleep. So whilst an all nighter may feel like the better option to revise all the content, I can guarantee you that it’s not. Rather, complete revision at regular intervals sessions so that you are getting your sleep between them. To get a full 7/8 hours of sleep, I’d advise following a calming bedtime routine of reading or meditating before. Limit junk food and caffeine in the evening hours as well as screen time. You can spare hours during the day for this instead.
- Prepare your school bag before going to bed. Without the appropriate resources for the day, you’ll find that you’ll struggle with taking important class notes. Additionally, without checking that you have everything with you, you can risk leaving behind your homework, textbooks or key sheets. Take 10 – 15 minutes of your time before you sleep to make sure you have the appropriate books, stationary and worksheets for the next day’s lessons.
- Thing positively. A positive mindset is the most important thing to have as a student. Change ‘I’ll never have time to do all this’ attitude to ‘Worrying is wasting time and I should do something wiser like start my revision’. Being negative and pessimistic can emotionally drain you and decrease your performance in exams. Whilst some amount of stress can be good, too much can turn into catastrophic thinking. Try to change any negative thoughts with messages of encouragement. Remember, you’ve got this!