6th class Survey
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10 top tips to look after your mental wellbeing
To mark World Mental Health Day, The Mental Health Foundation produced a list of 10 top tips to remind people to look after their mental wellbeing. (http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/)
1. Eat a balanced diet and drink sensibly: Improving your diet can protect against feelings of anxiety and depression.
2. Maintain friendships: Just listening and talking to friends who are feeling down can make a huge difference. So make sure your devote time to maintaining your friendships both for their sake and your own.
3. Maintain close relationships: Close relationships affect how we feel – so nurture them and if there is a problem within a relationship, try and resolve it.
4. Take exercise: The effects of exercise on mood are immediate. Whether it is a workout in the gym or a simple walk or bike ride, it can be uplifting. Exercise can also be great fun socially.
5. Sleep: Sleep has both physical and mental benefits. Physically it is the time when the body can renew its energy store but sleep also helps us to rebuild our mental energy.
6. Laugh: A good laugh does wonders for the mind and soul.
7. Cry: It is good to cry. Even though it may feel terrible at the time, a good cry can release pent up feelings, and people often feel better afterwards.
8. Ask for help when you need it: The longer you leave a problem, the worse it will get. Don’t be scared to ask for help from a family member, friend or professional.
9. Make time for you: Do you sometimes feel like you have no time for yourself? Make time for your hobbies and interests.
10. Remember, work isn’t everything: Ninety one million working days a year are lost to mental ill-health in the UK so take it easy.
Advise for students doing exams
It’s that time of year again where state exams are just about to begin. If you’re feeling under pressure about exams talk to somebody such as a friend, family member, teacher, doctor or counsellor. Keep things in perspective. Set yourself realistic goals for the results you can achieve. Exercise is a good stress reliever, which can help you think more clearly. Try to get at least 8 hours sleep and relax for at least an hour before bed the night before each exam. I would like to wish you all the very best and of course, good luck.
Here are some tips to help you prepare from Mental Health Ireland
- Have a revision timetable – start planning well before exams begin. Have realistic goals and include breaks – make sure to get some fresh air or have the window open while studying where possible.
- Make your books, notes and essays user-friendly. Use headings, highlighting and revision cards, and get tips on other revision techniques from teachers and friends with experience of exams.
- Everyone revises differently. Find out which routine suits you the best – alone or with a friend or parent/carer; early morning or late at night; short, sharp bursts or longer sessions; with music or without noise.
- Ask for help from your teacher, parent/carer or a friend if there are things you don’t understand.
- Prioritise! If you think there’s too much work, and not enough time left to do it in, write down everything you need to do, and sort it into order of priority. You can then work out what action you need to take for each task, and work your way through your list. You need to take into account which topics are the most important or compulsory, which you already know best, and which you have enough information on.
- Get plenty of Sleep – your body needs time to process all the information you are taking in and re-energise, so that it is ready for the day ahead.
- Eat Healthy – avoid processed and fast food as much as possible. Try eating foods high in omega 3 as this is great brain food.
- Avoid Caffeine (e.g. coffee, caffeine tablets, Red Bull) and high sugared snacks, as these give you a short lift before making you crash and burn. They can make you feel sick and can interfere with your sleep and therefore your ability to concentrate. You actually study better with regular breaks, getting lots of sleep and from exercising.
- Avoid Cramming the night before an exam, make sure you get a good night sleep and wake up earlier if you want to read over your notes rather than staying up late.
- Make sure you give yourself time each day to relax, taking breaks to do something you enjoy – watch TV, listen to music, read a book or go out for a walk.
On the day of the exam:
- Have a good breakfast – as you need fuel to concentrate!
- Make sure you know when the exam is being held and what time it starts. Give yourself plenty of time to get there.
- Take all the equipment you need for each exam, including extra pens and pencils. Also take a bottle of water, a snack and tissues.
- Go to the toilet beforehand!
- Avoid people who are stressing out, find a quiet corner and read over your notes.
- If you feel really anxious, breathe slowly and deeply while waiting for the exam to start.
- Read the instructions before starting the exam.
- Ask the teacher or exam supervisor if anything is unclear.
- Read through all the questions before starting writing, and make sure you are clear how many questions you are required to answer. Read front and back of the exam sheet!!!!
- If there is a choice, start by answering the question you feel you can answer best.
- If you are stuck on a question, go on to the next. You can always come back to it later. If you are really stuck, try to have an intelligent guess anyway. Never leave a blank page if at all possible!!!!
- Leave time to read through and check your answers before the exam finishes.
- After the exam – Don’t go through the answers afterwards with your friends if it is only going to make you more worried and you can’t change it now.
What to do if you feel Stressed?
A little anxiety is not a bad thing if it acts as a motivation to prepare properly and to tackle the task with a determined approach. However if you feel like it is getting overwhelming or you are starting to panic here are a few tips.
- Talk about your problems – Don’t Bottle them up! Discussing your problems can be a great relief and can often provide solutions you wouldn’t necessarily come up with on your own. Sometimes, people under stress don’t want to talk about their problems because they are afraid of being overwhelmed or losing control of their emotions. But talking to a family and friends can help you to express and deal with those feelings. It can lead you to understand why you feel as you do, and find the means to do something about it. Please remember some schools and colleges have their own counselling services so please don’t be afraid to avail of these services.Talking about your problems is a sign of strength – not Weakness!!
- Breathing techniques: Stress can make you start breathing with quick, shallow breaths and make your heart beat faster than usual. If this happens, sit down somewhere comfortable, if possible. Place one hand on your stomach and check how quickly you are breathing. If it’s one breath every couple of seconds, take a deep breath and start counting steadily. Breathe out slowly and try to get the last of the breath out on about five seconds. Carry on doing this until you are doing it naturally.
- Exercise: Regular exercise is an excellent way of coping with stress. As little as 10 or 20 minutes a day spent walking, cycling, or at the gym can make a big difference. And I know it is the last thing you want to do after a long day at school but this is the best time to do 30mins of exercise – It will re-energise the brain and body and you will find it easier to focus when you start studying.
10 Stress reliever tips
Most importantly – Remember that the exams are not the be all and end all!! There is the bigger picture so focus on that. Prepare well, study to the best of your ability so that once you come out of the exam hall you can say ‘I done my best and what will be will be!’ hold your head up high and go enjoy the summer.
The best way to support your child during the stress of revision and exams is to make home life as calm and pleasant as possible. Don’t let your stress become their stress. It helps if other members of the household are aware that your child may be under pressure and that allowances should be made for this.
If your child is given study leave in the run-up to exams, try to be at home as much as possible so that you can share a break and a chat together.
Make sure there are plenty of healthy snacks in the fridge and try to provide good, nutritious food at regular intervals. Encourage your child to join family meals, even if it’s a busy revision day – it’s important to have a change of scene and get away from the books and computer for a while. Also encourage your child to take regular exercise. A brisk walk around the block can help clear the mind before the next revision session.
Try not to make too many demands on your child during exam time. Arguments are counter-productive and will only add unnecessary stress and distract from revision.
It’s important to get a good night’s sleep before an exam, so discourage your child from staying up late to cram. And make sure he or she eats a good breakfast on the morning of the exam.
Throughout the run up to the exams and after it is important to reassure your child that no matter what results they receive, that there are options. It may not be their first option but there is other ways to get the same qualification so be aware of the options should they not get their first choice. Give them as much encouragement and support during these times.