Self care in stressful times

It’s exam period (I’m sure you all know – I’ve been banging on about it enough!), and when times get tough it can be hard to take care of yourself. Here are my top tips:

  1. Plan time off. Even if you think you can’t afford to have a break, you need one to stay healthy and to work better. I try to stop working every evening by 7.30pm, and since I have a lot of extra curricular which I have to do on a Sunday I take the rest of the day off so I can fully enjoy it.
  2. Eat regular meals and as healthily as you dare. It can be easy just to eat biscuits and  chocolate and call it a meal, and easy to subconsciously snack as  you work, but it’s much healthier (and better for your teeth!) to have meals and try to avoid snacking. I try to have a long enough break to heat up some soup and toast for lunch, and a main meal in the evening. I don’t have much time to cook at the moment, so I’ve planned ahead and cooked and frozen some meals in advance. I’m also greatly enjoying exploring the variety of ready meals available from tesco (although this is not the most cost effective solution it’s definitely not the worst!)
  3. Don’t spend your time off just watching TV! I’ve fallen into this trap more than once. It’s just so easy to grab some nibbles and slob the evening away. But going out, seeing friends and doing things is so much more exciting, and makes you feel like you’ve actually done something!
  4. Sleep lots. Just go to bed. Take a nap. You can’t work if you’re tired.
  5. Try to enjoy it. Hopefully you picked a subject you love, and while revising for exams 60 hours a week isn’t the best bit you can hopefully still find some interest in what you’re learning about!
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Start of term: stream of thought

Term starts on Monday and I’ve been back in the house for just under a week, and very busy with revision.

I’ve noticed when I have plans to see people in the evening I work a lot better, as you’d probably expect. It’s nice to have something to look forward to and a time you know you need to stop, and I definitely feel less lonely and more healthy, and I’m sleeping better. At home when my family get in from work I’ve been alone all day but all they want is some time to themselves, which can be frustrating and sad.

I’m having the weekend off now, and just had the best day shopping in town with my boyfriend. I managed to get some absolute bargains from New Look and a couple of charity shops, and have finally realised my dream of buying a leather jacket. I managed to find some new jeans, something I’m always on the look out for and I struggle to find. We had a break for tea and cake, and an all round lovely day. Looking forward to a small party this evening and another relaxed day tomorrow!

I’m a bit worried about the start of term, especially since it signals only three weeks until my exams start, and only four until they’re over. I’ve been doing past paper questions and still really struggling with organic Chemistry, which I’m really looking forward to dropping next year, and some of the Physics that I’ve spent less time on.

Everything else seems to be ticking along alright though, and I’m trying not to think about it too much for now!

Easter revision

Just under two weeks left of the Easter holidays and I’ve finally worked out how revision is going to work best for me!

Since starting uni, the way I revised has changed considerably, and I’m starting to think it’s not a good thing. I used to do four half hour to an hour bursts of revision a day, one for each subject. When I started uni, I realised I needed to do a lot more. I decided to do blocks of an hour and a half, and do eight hours a day. I decided it would help to go through one subject at a time.

I tried for weeks, losing motivation every hour, and often not making it through the day. I was lucky if I managed four hours before I gave in to the pull of my book or a tv program.

I needed to change, and fast. Working with my boyfriend when he came to visit made me realise that 45 minutes is probably the maximum time I can concentrate for. I started doing 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes break every hour. It worked fine except for some of the more confusing topics, which I then started splitting into two lots of twenty minutes with a five minute break between.

I make notes, go through flash cards, read notes, do questions, and worst of all attempt to learn mechanisms. And that was what the sticking point was. 45 minutes, even 20 minutes, of organic chemistry was far too much more me. So the finishing touch to my perfect revision timetable was to spread the organic throughout the day by doing 5 minutes in each of my quarter hour breaks and 10 more at the end of the day.

I can now make it through all of my planned revision for the day, and despite only having six full hours planned I get a lot more done than I used to.

Shameless plug

Hi everyone!

I’ve recently started a new blog (in addition to this one) related to all things Physics and Chemistry. These are the subjects in my degree so are obviously very close to my heart, and I would love to get more into writing about them to combine two of my favourite things.

I’m going to be posting a news story related to the physical sciences every Wednesday at 3pm, and I also have a variety of pages talking about how the science I learnt at A Level was expanded to a first year university course. It’s the sort of thing I wish I had when I wanted to push myself more in sixth form and read more around what I was learning to deepen my understanding not only for myself but for my UCAS application and interview preparation.

It would really mean a lot if you checked it out – it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s close to my heart and I’m really proud of it. You can see it here. Thank you!!

A weekend in Marsden (near Huddersfield, UK)

This weekend I met my boyfriends dad and stepmum for the first time. It was nerve-wracking and scary, but my breath was taken away by the place we met. I joined them on their family holiday in Marsden, near Huddersfield in England.

We stayed in a little house by the canal and a small reservoir. The sun shined (once in a while) and made the water sparkle. There were lots of locks, which are used to change the water level of the canal so that barges can travel even when the water level would change.

We explored around the area, including the information centre about the Standedge tunnel, which is the longest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain. It is three miles long, and too thin for the horses which used to normally pull the barges, so they had to be pulled along by two men who lay on the sides of the boat and stepped sideways. It took about four hours to get through the tunnel this way! We also strolled up to Close Gate bridge, which was beautiful.

For the rest of the weekend we read our books and chatted, had some lovely meals and cake at ‘Crumbals on the Corner’, which were all delicious, and mooched around the village. We had some strange encounters – a man who asked us to catch his dog for him while he watched from his car, and a very chatty (and a teensy bit drunk) man at the train station.

My boyfriend then came to visit my family for a couple of days. I won’t bore you, but we read, watched a lot of The Flash (finished season 1) and some Desperate Housewives (also finished season 1), baked some cupcakes, played card games, went for a couple of short walks and even managed to squeeze some work in!

My Easter Weekend

Amongst the endless drone of work and revision it’s important to have a rest. I had a lovely weekend, (almost) completely work-free, with my family and in the sunshine (surprisingly, we had a lot of sunshine!).

We went to visit my grandparents in Worcester. Not many people know where Worcester is, but it’s a city in the west midlands in England, and is actually very pretty. No surprise, it houses the original Worcestershire sauce!

My grandpa is quite ill and had recently moved into a residential home, so it was good to be able to be there for my grandma. We had a lot of time inside, playing card games, reading and chatting and it was lovely to be able to unwind. I went for a jog (!), did an Easter egg hunt and had some lovely meals out, but the highlight for me was going to Spetchley Park Gardens on the day that it opened.

We spent the afternoon strolling through beautiful Victorian gardens, complete with a glistening lake, quaint bridge, deer park and Georgian mansion, and even a little church. It really was stunning, and there was even an easter egg hunt for the (not so little any more) kids (including me, obviously!).

Easter holidays

Term is finally over!! (bit of a delayed response, since it finished on Friday)

I’ve done a lot of sleeping, including more naps than I’m proud of, a bit of partying (like, one party) and actually a lot of work.

By the end of this term, as with every other term, I felt swamped with work, with loads of things I’d pushed to the back burner as summatives built up and everything got more hectic. Last term I made the mistake of getting a train home the evening of the last day of term, and it did not go well! I was exhausted, slept on the train (waking up after that’s always stressful!) and was not in the greatest of moods when I finally arrived! I didn’t really let myself have a break either, and started working straight away.

This time, I stuck around for a few days. I had time to celebrate the end of term on the Friday evening and have a proper lie in on Saturday. I had a really lovely chilled day on Saturday, featuring a picnic in my living room, a film and a walk with the boyfriend. I felt rested and ready to get myself sorted before I left.

I spent the next three days making notes from some of my lectures so I wouldn’t have as much to carry home and to make a start on revision. I got packed up, had cosy evenings in with a film or the Wii (I’ve never played on a Wii until this term how crazy?! It’s really frustrating and I hate it). I got home yesterday evening, in a much better mood and ready to have a proper chat with my family, and carry on working today.

I decided not to have a lot of time off at the beginning of the holiday because we’re visiting my grandparents over the Easter weekend and I’m visiting my boyfriends dad later on in the holiday so I’d rather have them off. It gives me slightly over a week off this holiday, which I think is a reasonable amount of time to have a break but get loads of work done for my exams, which are in eight and a half weeks…..