There is a lot of pressure associated with A-Levels – especially when they can be the only thing standing in your way to getting that long-awaited place in medical school. It’s not surprising that your mental wellbeing can take a bit of a hit during this time, so here are some tips on how to look after yourself mentally during this tough time.
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You’ve worked hard for years now to get this far and there’s no reason why you are not capable of this next hurdle! Often people doubt themselves unnecessarily perhaps because they haven’t done well in a mock exam or they feel others are performing better, but remember that it isn’t their exam you’re sitting. Focus on yourself and don’t be distracted by what others are up to. By the time your exam comes around, you’ll be prepared and ready to do your best.
Read the 3 Most Effective A-Level Revision Techniques>>
It can be easy to think that the more work you do, the better you will do, but this isn’t always the case. What you need to do isn’t necessarily work harder but work smarter. Work for focused periods of time but give yourself a break and make sure you are sleeping. Working all the time can become stressful and give your mental health a real knock because you stop doing the things you enjoy.
I’ve mentioned it once but in my opinion the key to doing well in exams and a big factor in keeping your mental wellbeing in a good place is getting enough sleep. We all know that sleep helps in consolidating what we learn in a day and everyone feels better after a good sleep, but yet it’s often the first thing we scrimp on in times of stress. Give yourself that important break each night and try to wind down for at least 30 minutes before bed to relax and ease any anxieties that might have built up over the day.
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Exam season can become quite isolating but we are social creatures and this isolation doesn’t do us much good. So arrange to meet your friends for coffee and try to talk about all the other things going on in the world other than revision!
It can be good to air any stresses you might be having to friends or your family. You’d be surprised how many of your friends share similar anxieties, or how understanding your family can be if you open up.
Read more on Dealing with Stress as a Medical Student>>
I know during my A-Levels I certainly struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I know this negatively impacted my mental health, but now that I’ve been through it I realise how irrational that was.
You have the date that your exams will finish so keep that in your mind – it will help you to reassure yourself you can make it over this final hurdle. Have something fun planned for when you finish to really keep you motivated to get there – be that a holiday with your friends or family, a big night out or maybe just watching Netflix guilt-free.
Remember that looking after yourself is just as important as studying your notes, because if your head isn’t in it, it doesn’t matter what’s in your head. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling to someone you trust, it’s amazing how much it can help!
Words: Ruari McGowan
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