As you all know by now, the Leaving Cert kicked off this week.
The first exam English paper 1 took place on Wednesday, followed by Home Ec for some.
You’ve probably been studying and stressing for over two years now, and, even more than any leaving cert group before you, it’s been a really tough two years.
For those of you who chose to sit the exams, you had a rollercoaster two years of education, in and out of school and on zoom and teams.
Now, it’s time to put all the hard work down on the page. Each evening when the exams are over, it’s really important to relax and give yourself a break.
It’s a stressful week or so for everyone involved so it’s important to mind yourself.
7 dos and don’t of unwinding after each exam:
DON’T dwell on the test you just took:
It can be tempting to come home and look at your notes or copybook to see if you got that question right, or head to social media to see if everyone else thought it was tough too, but it will do you ZERO good! The exam is done now, you did your best, and you can’t go back and write anything else. If you are putting your head in your books, opt for the subject you have the next day. Remember that cramming won’t work and you have all the information in there already, so if you’re going to study the night before, just look at is as a refresher of your notes rather than a deep dive.
DON’T stay up late
Whether it’s for studying, stressing or just TikTok, there is no point in staying up late the night before the exam. Poor sleep can affect your brain function and focus so really, a good night sleep is better than any late night activities.
DO take a shower or bath
Sitting in one room for hours stressing and sweating (especially with this classic LC weather!) can leave you feeling a bit sticky and warm, not to mention exhausted. Having a long shower after a difficult exam can help to wash away a difficult day, or if you’re a bath person, a nice soak will help to make you feel relaxed and help you to have a better night sleep.
DO go for a walk or cycle
You might feel like you don’t have the energy or the time to go for a walk or do anything at all after an exam, but sitting in one seat for hours, along with all the mental pressure, can really take its toll. You can absolutely head out on a short walk or cycle in the evenings after your exams to help to clear your head, taking in some deep breaths, and help you move on to the next day.
DO practise some mindfulness
You can be really in your head during all of this tough exam period so a bit of mindfulness can be really good. This can be as simple as sitting on your bed, closing your eyes and taking deep breathes in and out. Try breathing in while counting to 8 in your head, and breathing out while counting to 8. This can help to make you feel more steady and present so that you have a clearer mind.
DO eat well
You might be nervous and not have much of an appetite or you might eat lots from feeling stressed out. It’s important to eat properly during the exam period so that you feel your best. Homecooked dinners are best to ensure you’re getting lots of goodness, and not just sugary or salty food, and lots of water, to ensure you’re hydrated.
DO go easy on yourself
It can be hard not to feel pressure during the leaving cert, and it might seem like it’s the most important test in your life. It’s really important to go easy on yourself and just try your best. There are so many options out there for our future and one exam won’t get in the way of you having an amazing life, so try to be nice to yourself during this time and do things that you enjoy in the evenings, whatever that may be. If you’re stressing to the point of it really affecting your mental health it’s really important to talk to a parent, guardian, family member or teacher about how your feeling because nothing is worth your health suffering. If you don’t feel like talking to someone you know, reach out to support network 50808 which is a free text service for those looking for someone to chat to.
Remember, you’re just a few days away from a summer of fun! You’ve got this!