Exam season is here, and although we did not get the memo, our levels of stress seem to have had a premium subscription. As you have seen from the title, I won’t be giving you the regular advice you are used to hearing (exercise! Meditate! Go outside!). While these three sure do work, I wanted to create a guide with information that went beyond common knowledge; secrets worth discovering that  you won’t find in a Google search. An unorthodox yet effective guide into nursing your brain back to safety, making sure your mental health is A-ok during finals week. 

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Create a routine (but add some pizzazz)

As tempting as sleeping in every day may be, establishing some sort of order in your day helps you not only feel productive, but will actually make you more so. This will have you feeling better about yourself, creating a positive feedback loop. It does not have to be strict, just a general overview including things you normally do and adding things you want to achieve (in my case, top grades in Marketing) to keep you aiming towards your goals.

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However, you should also strive for doing things out of the ordinary. If every time you walk by a café you think “I really want to go in” but you never do, this time, make sure you do. Dare to have some fun and break out of your everyday pattern. Change your path home, take yourself out to dinner, join an online fortune telling group. This “pizzazz” technique is a double win, as you not only have fun while doing the things you want to do, but you also show yourself you are courageous enough to achieve anything you set your mind to, making you mentally strong.

Socialize

Please do not stay locked in with your head buried in books all throughout finals. If there is something we all learnt during last year is that too much time in lockdown can and will drive us a little insane, which is to say this: you deserve a break every once in a while! And who better to spend it with than the people you love? If your friends are little bookworms too, my favorite strategy to make them take a break is to go over to their place with food, something no-one can say no to. Other ideas could be taking them out for lunch or coffee, or in any case, please drop by unexpectedly. They too could use some human contact.

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If all else fails, I sometimes like to borrow a technique from the famous show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” called “Phone a Friend”. A few minutes on FaceTime with someone far away can make them feel really close to you. Human interaction can do wonders for your mental health.

Journaling

By this I don’t necessarily mean keeping a diary (I mean, to each their own); I find it very hard to have a bad day if I start it out by shifting my mentality altogether. I try to change the narrative of all of the things I have to do into things I get to do. For example, instead of HAVING to read countless chapters of the textbook, I really GET to learn all about x or y topics. When you start the day by thinking about things you are grateful for, it is much harder to drain it of colour. I have drafted an example down below:

At the end of the day, your health will always come first – both physical AND mental. Do the things that feel right to you and enjoy them! When it comes to exams, trust the fact that you did your best with the information you possessed at the time and grow from your experience for next time. A grade will not define your future and it definitely does not and will never define you as a person. If you ever need any help please reach out: we are always here for you, as are your friends, family and all of the IE community. See you all in our next post, happy studying and good luck! 

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