2016, Uncategorized

Back to School for Stressed Students: Part 2

If you missed part one, check it out! I’ll wait.


After a day of hard work, friend drama, work and extra-curriculars, all I really want to do is lounge on the couch, watching Food Network until bedtime. This practice is exactly what made me stressed in the past – knowing I need to do work, but not having the energy to do it. Deciding not to do any study, even just one day out of the week, led to me being too stressed to work the next day, and the next – eventually it snowballed until I panicked and worked myself way too hard, just to get things done.

Doing some quick revision of the work you’ve covered every day or week means that the workload stays steady, instead of piling up and becoming insurmountable. Strike while the iron is hot, and save yourself from your own bad habits. You might also want to consider writing study notes early – compiling a stash of them from the beginning of term, maybe, or a month out from the exam – that way, when you need to get down and study, your notes are ready and waiting, and contain relevant information from when you were studying the topic.

School can be a great way to relax with friends, learn and have fun. For an anxious student, it can also be an incredible source of frustration, anxiety and stress. The most crucial thing to ensuring a good year is to find what works for you – what time of day you best study, how you can relax at the end of the day, what bad habits you need to sort out. Good grades and hard work a great – but all work and no play can mean serious issues for your mental health.

Have a great school year, guys.

2016, Uncategorized

Back to School for Stressed Students: Part 1

Going back to school after almost a 7 week holiday, I find myself looking forward to settling back into the routine. Structure is one of the things about school that I do like – you sit in a classroom for 52 minutes, do your best work – repeat this a few times before a break, then continue. For 200 days a year.

But as I’m currently discovering, it’s also easy to feel stressed, nervous and overwhelmed at the idea of a new school year. Here are my best tips for surviving a new school year as a stressed student.

  1. Before School Starts

This year, I’m choosing to be dedicated to reducing my school-related stress and anxiety. I have developed a habit over the years of failing to be properly organised – so when exam time rolls around, I lose it.

Being more organised is something I’ve always struggled with, and now I’ve found that doing just a few small things every day makes a massive difference to my stress. I have an alarm set on my phone to go off twice a day – reminding me to check my calendar and diary. Keeping these up to date with my life and each other helps me get on top of things early – I’m actually writing this post a few days in advance, because I knew I would be busy later.

Get a family friend to remind you of your organisation goals, or set an alarm like I have – and try to get into routine in a holiday or break, so that when school rolls around, you already have your routine going. The important thing is to build a habit, so being organised feels like routine, not a chore.

2. During the Term

In all my thinking about how I was going to de-stress my school year, I came up with a few definite things I need to practice while I’m at school.

The first is massively important but so difficult for pretty much everyone who is struggling with their mental health – talking to others. I always feel embarrassed or annoying when I speak to people about my stress, and that just isn’t right. I’ve decided to talk to one of my teachers right at the beginning of the year, and ask them to tell me when they see me starting to get stressed. I often don’t realise my own decline, and this way I already have support if I need it. Talk to someone you trust about keeping an eye out for you.

The second thing I need to work on is blatantly obvious, but something I struggle with – paying attention in class. My sister, Beanz, and I have very different study styles. She works hard in class and gets to relax at home, whereas I do the opposite. While I prefer to study in my own environment, talking to my friends instead of working hard in class means I study ridiculously hard at home and end up a panicky mess. Make the most of your time with your teachers, and there will be less to do at home when your favourite show is on.

Catch part two tomorrow!


Respect That: Why Medication for Mental Health Isn’t Your Concern

It’s too much to ask you to be understanding of everyone and everything. I don’t know that it’s humanly possible – it is, at the very least, excruciatingly difficult.

But if you understand one thing today, let it be this: some people are sick, and need to take medication. And that is okay.

By sick, I mean suffering from mental illness.

And yes, I am aware that the word ‘sick’ may not be how you are used to hearing mental illness described. But that’s what it is – being sick, having an illness.

And if someone with a broken leg can take Nurofen, someone with anxiety can take Xanax.

It is not your job to judge them. It is not your job to have an opinion on whether taking medication is right for them. It might be keeping them alive. It might be getting them out of bed every morning. The only thing you need to know is that it is something they need, and that is okay.

Taking medication for mental health issues isn’t usually glamorous. My friend Zarlo Cooman described it to me once as, “feeling the same at someone’s funeral as you feel at their wedding.”

Which is awful. But it’s better than feeling like you want to be at your own funeral. I imagine that is not a great feeling.

Medication for mental illness isn’t a cop-out. It isn’t recreational drug use. It isn’t to get high or stoned. It’s there to make people feel like people.

You job is to understand that. Your job is to respect that.



The paper sits face down on the desk.
The teacher is already moving on to the people around me.
Groans of displeasure accompany fist pumps and war cries of a job well done.
The air is thick with one question: “What did you get?”

I wait until the people next to me have turned away.
Slowly, the paper is turned.
Slowly, my eyes travel upward to the numbers circled in red.
Slowly, the cogs of my brain start to spin.

It’s a good mark. A really good mark.
I absolutely cannot complain.
I worked hard for this, I know I did.

The boy on my left turns to me.
“What did you get?”
“Oh, I did pretty well, yeah.” I smile and turn away.
“No, but what was your mark?”
“A number.” I turn away again. He moves onto quizzing the girl on his left.

It’s not that I’m embarrassed.
I’m just tired of being judged for it.
“Yessssss!! I beat her!” Well done you. Jerk.
“She got that mark and I bet she didn’t even try. What a show-off.” Of course I tried, you moron.
“She doesn’t even look happy about it! Way to make me feel bad about what I got.” It’s called modesty, look it up.
“Is she seriously disappointed? With that mark? How arrogant can someone get?” I know I could do better than this. I know I can work harder than this.

But this mark, just now, this is one I’m proud of.
I know I put in the work.
I know I tried my best.
And it paid off.

But amid the mess of voices around me, only one rings clear.
The little voice that sits between my ears.
And this is what is saying:

“Well done. But… Could you do it again?” 


Run for Your Lifeline

*Warning: Mention of suicide*

Yesterday, I ran with new orthotics in.

Which you are not supposed to do.

I can barely walk.

But despite the fact that my hips have been completely realigned and for some reason, my abs hurt (???), I don’t regret it.

Yesterday, I ran in the Lifeline Fun Run. Lifeline is a crisis hotline and suicide prevention organisation that assist hundreds of people everyday. Countless lives have been saved through their conscientious approach to mental health assistance. Thanks to sponsors, every entry fee went straight into helping them achieve all this brilliance.

Unfortunately, many, many people die each year as a result of mental illness. This loss is staggering and awful, but the number would be higher if not for the efforts of organisations like Lifeline.

Sore hips for another life saved. Seems worth it to me.

Moral: doing good feels good. Even when it feels like it hurts.

Xx Loony