Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by Jess, our Community Education intern, who is a 23-year-old psychology student.
I, like a lot of people I know, am sighing a huge sigh of relief having finally completed exams and assignments for the year, after the particularly draggy last few months. Being stuck at home during lockdown added even more challenges to a time which is already particularly challenging and important for students. I noticed I missed a more structured routine - leaving the house to go to campus, grabbing a morning coffee and attending in person classes. I learnt it provides me with an added sense of motivation to the day. This is why I found it so important to keep somewhat of a routine during lockdown, in order to maximise my motivation for studying at home.
This usually involves making sure I have a good sleep the night before, to optimise my mental functioning. I also make sure I have a to-do list for each day, as for me personally, I find it helpful in keeping track of my tasks, as well as giving myself a boost every time I complete one. I also make time for leaving the house to go for a walk, or putting some time towards doing exercise such as pilates or even just stretching my body.
I have found it is also crucial to have a good environment to work in. I am a person who prefers working alone in my room, rather than being out in the living room with others, for me I find I get too distracted this way. So, it is important for me to make sure I have a clean room, a clear desk, and am disconnected from my phone, this is what I would suggest to others who prefer to study alone like me. Having a neat working space helps me keep calm and feel organised. I also find it is good to avoid working lying down or in bed where reading and writing is more difficult, and it makes posture uncomfortable or slouched. Working from home means there is an opportunity for even more procrastination to occur, with the temptation of social media and Netflix. This is why I make sure these devices are a distance away so as not to tempt me. However, I make a point of having allocated break times, so I don’t feel burnt out and have the need to get distracted by something else.
At times like these, where we are connected to devices more than we normally would, due to Zoom calls, working, and connecting with others, it‘s normal to feel drained. This can be an important reminder to take breaks from technology to help re-energise yourself and to relax. Aspects which I have already emphasised before which have worked wonders for me involve going outside for a walk, particularly somewhere surrounded by nature, which makes me feel more at peace and gives my brain a break, leaving me with the feeling of being re-energised.
Another aspect I can speak from my own experience is feeling higher levels of anxiety during a time of multiple deadlines and studying for exams. I found it is helpful for me to write down any worries that I have. It is similar to keeping to-do lists for me. I found writing down worries gives them a tangible form, and helps me manage worry. I also find it was beneficial for me to think about positive habits such as checking in on the people around me and having conversations about each other's day and checking in with each other emotionally.
Now, since completing my final assessments I have had a chance to relax and enjoy not having any deadlines or studying to do. We, students, should be proud of what we have accomplished in extreme circumstances. It is important to take the time to reward ourselves and acknowledge what we have accomplished. This time has also given me the opportunity to look at new goals I want to pursue in the near future, beginning with getting out into the workforce. While also taking this time of the year in summer to enjoy the sunshine and looking forward to spending time with close ones as soon as restrictions ease more, which is what all of us need and deserve now more than ever.
Anxiety around exams