As winter and mock season approach, you might find it harder to maintain your mental health. The combination of darker days and the stress of revision can take its toll. Here we’ll take you through our top 5 tips for looking after yourself during what can be a stressful time.
Tip 1: Get outside!
Colder weather doesn’t mean you can’t still get outdoors! Being outside can help boost both your physical and mental health. According to Mind, it can ease stress. It can also help you ‘switch off’ from everything on your to do list. It would be pretty difficult to do practice problems while on a walk – which is exactly the point!
Getting outside at least once a day can be extremely helpful. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, the fresh air can make a big difference, and it will help clear your head.
Tip 2: Prioritise getting good sleep
Sleep is one of the most fundamental aspects of good health. Poor sleep can negatively impact your immune system, your mood, and your energy levels. It’s really important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. This may sound really boring but going to sleep and waking up at around the same time each day helps your body understand when it’s time to sleep, so you’ll get better rest.
If you’re finding that you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re thinking about assignments you need to do or revision you need to catch up, take a look at when you’re working.
Working right up until you go to bed can worsen these problems as it means the work is fresh on your mind! Try planning your day so that you have 30 minutes to an hour of rest and relaxation before going to bed.
Another tip is to use meditation apps like Calm, Headspace, or even mindfulness videos on Youtube to help you relax.
Tip 3: Spend quality time with friends and family (and pets!)
When we start getting stressed, it can be really easy to isolate ourselves. Adding things to your schedule might seem overwhelming, but the right kind of plans can be really helpful. Spending quality time with friends and family can help you reconnect with things separate from the IB!
Research has shown that the companionship of pets can boost your mental health. If you have pets, spending time playing with them can really help! If you have a dog, taking them for a walk can help you spend time outside and have an even bigger impact. Our favourite app for connecting with dogs and other dog owners is DogDater. You can meet other dogs in your area, get tips on the best dog parks and walks, and loads more!
Tip 4: Plan for rest as well as studying
As we get closer to mock season for those of you in your final year, it can be easy to plan every minute of your day around studying. While building a revision schedule is important, it shouldn’t take up your whole life!
Incorporating time for rest and self care into your revision schedule will help improve both your mental health and your revision. You can’t revise effectively if you are approaching burn out!
Experiment with setting aside chunks of time to have a bath, read a (non-academic!) book, watch a film, or play football with friends. A planning method called calendar blocking can be a really helpful tool for this! Read more about it here.
Tip 5: Know when to reach out for help
While it is completely normal to feel stress, it’s important to be able to recognise when it’s time to seek additional help. If you’re finding that it’s getting hard to cope with the stress, please don’t hesitate to seek additional support.
Most schools have a member of staff whose job is to help support students struggling with stress and their mental health. If you’re not sure who to go to, ask a teacher. They will be able to point you in the right direction.
If you’re not comfortable speaking to someone from your school, you can reach out to your doctor. They are trained to support your mental health as well as your physical health! Support available will vary by country, but check out this page if you’re in the UK and this one if you’re in the US. Information for more countries can be found here.
The key thing to remember is that there is support available. Doing well in the IB and having good mental health are not mutually exclusive! Being proactive about protecting your mental health is essential as school gets busier. If you’re struggling, please reach out to a trusted adult as soon as possible.