Lets face it: while you’re studying for your A-Levels, you’re going to be dealing with a shtload of stress. You’re probably feeling it right now, reading this… and breathe.
The amount of stress that each of you feels will vary. Some of you will be a little bit nervous on the morning of your exam but mostly fine otherwise. A whole lot more of you are going to be pretty stressed for a fairly long time. Unfortunately, at least 1 in 10 young people in Britain suffer from some kind of mental health issue, and so a good deal of those of you that do will feel even more stressed than ‘pretty stressed for a fairly long time’.
As good as we are at Atomi, we can’t solve all of your ailments. However, we can give you some very simple and sensible tips which should help you look after yourself during this very stressful period of your life.
Everyone talks about ‘breaks’ a lot. But seriously, one of the easiest ways to combat stress is to take a big ol’ break. And no, that strictly does not mean sit at your desk and scroll through Instagram for 25 mins before attempting to study again - that won’t increase your productivity once you’re done and it won’t help your stress levels.
Full-time breaks interspersed between full-time studying is the only way to go. Make sure you leave the stressful study environment and get away from your notes, textbook or Atomi videos when you need a break. Completely clear your mind.
I don’t want to say something as corny as ‘go outside’ but...maybe you should go outside? Maybe you could take a quick walk. Going into the real, natural world with all those trees and all that grass that helps lower your stress a lot. That doesn’t mean you have to skip through the woods, singing and talking to rabbits like a manic, stressed, millennial Snow White - you could just go sit quietly on a bench if that’s more your jam, it still helps to just get outside.
Even if you can only change the room you’re in for the time being, it’s still totally worth it. There’s always a good chance that changing your environment, getting off your electronic devices and shutting yourself totally off from your work for a short while will help you destress.
So, what else might help you destress? I know - going on a long, exhausting run!
Okay, stay with me for a second.
Maybe you don’t need to run a marathon to destress, but a bit of physical activity is always a good thing. Exercise of any level (whether that’s winning a strongman competition or just walking to Tesco) produces endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that can literally make you happier and reduce stress. Simple as that. And it doesn’t have to be hard, even breathing deeply can produce endorphins. I mean, the more you do the more you release, so we’d probably recommend doing five or more minutes of moderate exercise to produce enough of those delicious endorphins and get that stress down!
Maybe that’s going on a walk, maybe it’s a quick run, maybe it’s just lifting heavy things or maybe it’s punching the crap out of a big punching bag. Either way, a bit of physical activity goes a long way, so don’t underestimate it.
Speaking to actual humans
Okay, so you’ve spoken to some rabbits and you’ve been on a run to Tesco and back. All good stuff, but after you’ve spent long enough talking to the rabbits you might find yourself starting to feel a bit lonely. If so fear not, it’s common. A lot of people forget to speak to real people when their heads are down and they’re studying and stressing about their A-Levels. If they do forget to speak to people, your stress is only going to get worse.
There are two things you might want to do:
- You might be able to calm down by actually talking about A-Level stuff. Talking to your school friends or teachers is always a good way to get things off your chest. Talking through A-Level specific topics may stop your thoughts and feelings about your exams from rattling around in your head so much, and you might find that people are having the same difficulties with their study as you.
- However, talking about your A-Levels all the time with everyone can also add to stress. So, it may also be important to find people that couldn’t care less about your A-Levels and talk to them about sport, or music, or T.V., or whatever really. Doing that will help you to put things into perspective, and it’ll definitely stop you talking about calculus or xylem vessels or Shakespeare.
Different things work for different people, though, so just see what works for you. Just make sure you’re taking the time to keep speaking to people.
As important as your A-Levels are, your mental health is even more important. Plus, if you don’t look after your mental health, you’ll make your work much harder to get through.
If you’re feeling stressed, treat your stress like something to work on alongside your study. So, as well as saying “I need to revise Newton’s Third Law today”, say “I need to do some exercise today”, and tick them off in exactly the same way.
If you take proper breaks, do plenty of physical activity and speak to actual humans, you should notice improvements in your stress levels. You might still be a bit stressed, sure, that’s normal, but it should at least help.