It’s really important to make sure you take time out for yourself during the HSC. I was notoriously bad at doing this – and it was not the best idea. My excuses always revolved around time and whether it was worth it for the work payoff. I believed that if I went for a walk and listened to music, something I usually really wanted to do, it would waste time and I would just have to finish the work later. So I pushed through it at the time. But doing this consistently leads to burnout and can result in procrastination and even more stress. To avoid this, try some of these ways to make sure you de-stress during the HSC to maximize productivity.
Having something as an outlet that distracts you from the HSC is really important. A job, a hobby, volunteering, rituals – anything that takes your focus away for a while. I unfortunately have the personality type where if I get into something, I really get into it. So having things to distract me and take my attention away from everything was super important for my anxiety levels. I did a lot of baking, listened to music, read, and would occasionally marathon House. These little distractions are really important to separate yourself from school for a while. Just make sure to time them right so it’s not too much procrastination!
A physical outlet is also crucial. There was a route around my house that I would either run or power-walk depending on how I felt. There are so many benefits to exercise and it’s a great way to let out tension. You also concentrate a lot better after exercising!
Deal with stress.
Sometimes you do need to deal with what’s stressing you out head-on. A good exercise a teacher showed me was to take a piece of paper and draw a box in the middle. Outside the box, you would write everything that was worrying you. Then, you would take all of those responses and rewrite what YOU could control in the middle of the box. Now, you’ve identified everything that you can take action on.
For example, I couldn’t control what mark I had already gotten for my English trial – so there was no point stressing about it. But I could control my HSC exam which hadn’t happened yet. So you can brainstorm some steps to see how you’ll tackle these problems.
Sometimes rationalizing out these problems is the best way to calm yourself down; there’s no reason to stress about something that is no longer in your control. It’s much better to reason out what is important right now, and what can be done. Taking it one day at a time is a way to decrease stress and the HSC that seems to loom ahead.
I am a really firm believer in practicing some self-care every now and then. I realize now that I neglected a lot of self-care because I didn’t think I had done enough work to ‘deserve’ it. This is not true ever! You can always congratulate yourself for just getting through the day, or completing that piece of homework. Taking a bath, reading, or even something like ordering Domino’s Pizza (a favourite of mine) is good to treat yourself every now and then.
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