| don’t become a stressed mess ! |

Helloooo everyone !

In my last HWW post I talked about thinking excited thoughts to banish bad moods or stress, and I wanted to continue the stress-busting theme of ‘why you need to stress less’ now as it’s that time of year where there are exams, results, choices to be made and lifestyle changes.

This isn’t some science backed post, I’m no real expert (obviously, my diploma is in photography) but I do know and understand the reasons why we stress and why we shouldn’t stress so much about things. This post is going to look at the three biggest stresses myself and others – maybe you – will experience, and how we can stress less about those things and accept the natural cause and effect of the experiences.

This is the biggy for most people. I physically can’t believe sometimes I did 11-12 exams over a period of 3 weeks, it’s insane, the amount of information 16 years olds are expected to retain to get a grade to then go and study more for harder exams, and then later find out that after five years, your GCSE grades don’t count anymore. It’s cruelty at an age when you should be living.
Anyway whatever the deal with exams, you need to do them, because you are in a fortunate position. There are many people in the world who want an education and don’t have the opportunity to go and take an exam to earn a degree or accolade in an industry that will better their lives. Exams show we have an education system, and we as a nation should be grateful that we can all attend a place (however crazy they are about you wearing only straight skirts and not pleated because that’s too mad) where we can become informed, cultured and open to new experiences.
The stress of exams is a big one, I was always really stressed around exam time but the mad thing now is I can’t remember it. My mum does and she always worried I was putting too much pressure on myself. The main thing to remember with exam time is to think realistically; sitting reading a chapter over and over for 5 hours solid isn’t going to help you learn, nor is it good for your mind.
– Read the mark scheme, see what basic things you need to address in the questions – if it’s a 15 mark question, you need 15 points to write about. If it’s 30, you need 15 points to make and then 15 counter arguments or detailed sentences about the points made.
– Make flash cards of the absolute basic facts of each area. I studied Philosophy + Ethics and yes, I over-highlighted, but I was able to refine the facts down to what the basic points of the sections were. You don’t need schpeal, you need to know the key areas and a few points about them to argue for and against. Plus you can spend 30 minutes doing this, treat yourself, and then try again later. Having breaks will improve your retention.
– Write an essay. Reading over and over can only do so much, so write a practise essay to see what you know. This really helped me get a higher grade in my A-Levels !

To Uni or not to Uni
If you’ve just done your A-Levels or AS Levels, then you’re thinking about what’s next for you. Personally I ended up putting off thoughts of uni until I had to apply, and even then I didn’t want to go and what felt like the hardest thing to do – saying “I don’t want to go to uni” – actually became the easiest and best decision I’d made.
I can’t speak for those who chose uni, but I know that for some it’s a great experience to meet others, live in a new city and have fun, and for others it’s a necessity because who wants a doctor who didn’t train in a hospital and has no idea where to stick a needle – no thanks.
The best thing to do is weigh up certain factors – who you are, what you want to do, where you want to be, and why you want to do it.
– If you are like me – not into the drinking heavily and bad diet, plus the lack of creative freedom in some uni courses – then this is a big con. I knew I would hate the pressure and the expectation to do things I didn’t want to do.
– If you want to have a career in accounting, medicine, business or law – go to uni. You need a degree for that and to learn everything to be a good person in that industry. If you are doing something more creative (and this is not a stab at those who go to LCF or any creative uni) then I would think more about whether spending £9000 a year on a course is the best thing for your career choice. My experience of looking at uni campuses and hearing about the courses, I found that there was limited creativity and actual photographing, and more essays than anything. I was ready to go on my own personal journey, so units of work were not for me.
– Are you ready to leave home yet ? You can always take a year out and work in your local town before deciding what to do. You can then go to a new town and work, using your savings for rent, or use it for uni.
– Don’t go to uni because someone else wants you to. You have to go for you. If you have any doubts, you need to sit down and think about the steps you are taking. You can drop out of uni if it doesn’t work, but wouldn’t you rather make a better decision now ? Like before, if it’s easier to take a year out and work and become clearer at the end, then do that.

Losing friends / making new friends
One of the last things I’ll touch on is something I’ve realised more over the past year. One of the things that kept us from moving house, changing schools, even going on long holidays was my friends. From primary school to the end of Sixth Form I wanted to stay with my group as much as I could through the year and summer. With decisions in what subjects and courses you take, you will lose friends and meet new ones. For most of my school life I was lucky to keep a core group whilst making new friends in different places.
People do change and that’s hard to others to accept, so sometimes you may lose people you didn’t think you ever would because of the path or choices you’ve made. It can be easy or hard depending on the situation; if you feel your friends are cutting you out it can hurt, but if you grow apart it’s not as painful. I’ve had both and what it’s taught me is the quality to look for in new people to know whether we’ll last as friends.
– Going to Sixth Form or Uni is a fab way to meet others, plus societies and outside-school activities. I would really recommend you get involved as I wish I’d made more friends through this. Don’t be afraid to approach others, the worst thing is they’ll say no and you’ll see they aren’t a friend for you.
– Try to make a weekly/monthly commitment to meet up with your oldest/best friends. Even if you are far away or are now in different classes at school, you’ll be able to come together and share stories.
– If you lose a friend, you can try to ask them what’s wrong but at the end of the day, they have a path and you have to let them go. They may come back, they may not, but remember to good times you had then and allow yourself to be the individual you want to be.
I always stressed about making my friends happy and being right for them, but once I realised I needed to make me happy instead, I was free to do what I want (example being, I liked to be at home to see friends in the summer but ended up seeing them less, so I went to America instead. No biggy)

This is less of a ‘why you need to stress less’ in the ‘ooh your blood pressure will decrease by 65% doing this’, but it is a hopefully helpful post to look at the realistic effects of things that right now may be causing you pain. In hindsight – oh hindsight you…fab thing – I wish I’d had this to read at 16-19 because I could’ve been a lot calmer, free-er, and more relaxed about situations than I was. It’s taken me 14 years to get to a place where I can focus on myself, and I’m stress-free (97% of the time), I love my routine and choices, and I’m, as Elizabeth Gilbert would say, balanced.

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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Brighton based Photographer, photographing your fave bloggers by day and testing the best vegan/cruelty-free skincare by night.


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