Saturday, 29 November 2014

Exam Stress

It is a big year for me as I have my GCSEs coming up so this can mean that I have several exams in one week. This is normally just coursework but some of them are incredibly testing and can make me want to just lie on my bed and scream. Next week I have mock exams so I have 11 exams in four days (this is nothing compared to my 23 in May/June) so I have had to have been doing a lot of revision. I'm not great at revision because, unless I get really into it, I find it almost impossible to focus. This then normally means that I don't revise and as the exams approach I end up having a number of anxiety attacks and there are a lot of tears. 

Don't feel sorry for me - it's my own fault.

But my short attention span is going to have to be changed as it isn't really an excuse. The examiners don't care. So this time I have been doing my revision differently and I am going to share what I have done.

Know what you want to do

Every day you should wake up and have a plan. An exam timetable would be very useful here but I understand that not everything can always go to plan. As long as you make a list each day of the subjects that you need to cover I can't imagine many things will go wrong. As long as you actually do it. It is very easy for someone to say "Oh I will do it later" or "But I have to do this..." If it doesn't have to be done right then wait and do it later. Do those subjects to the extent that you feel necessary/that you are able to do.


If you are brilliant at French but you are struggling in Biology then put down those verbs and pick up that cell revision pack. I know that when you are good at a subject and you enjoy it you will feel inclined to spend more time on that; however you are probably going to get a decent grade on that test anyway and it is a bit pointless to waste your time on something that you are good at. Even if you HATE biology if you revise that topic well enough you will probably not have to cover it again or spend less time on it. That means you could spend more time doing the things that you enjoy instead of drawing root hair cell diagrams. 

Past Papers and Examiners Reports are a gift

Find out your exam board and use their past papers until you run out. This way you are able to see the type of questions that have come up before and you can practice your technique. The best way to do these questions are to:

  1. Get the exam paper up and look at the question. If you have no idea what to do revise the topic (MyMaths is ideal for this). If you have some idea try and answer it. Answer all the sub-questions (so 1a. 1b. 1c (i) and so on) 
  2. Then when the question has finished mark it with the mark scheme and every question (regardless if you got it right or not) read the Examiners Report. This is when the Head Examiner gets all the examiners together and the discuss the common mistakes and whether a question was too hard. It lets you see if you are making common and silly mistakes. It also lets you see if it was a higher demand question and whether the people who get similar grades to you got that question right. I love these things.
  3. Repeat with every question. It's going to take a while but you will learn how to correct your mistakes and it will hopefully help you in the exam its self.

Do not work for more than a solid two hours and this is when your revision will stop being as effective. After every 1:30-2 hours take a half hour break and watch TV or talk to your friends or go for a walk. Staying cooped up with just revision is likely to make you just feel sad and then you are less likely to revise effectively. 

If your family are going out and you have revised enough don't be afraid to go with them. If it is a day trip take some revision cards with you so when you're stuck in a queue or something you can whip them out and test yourself. Or you could even download an app on your phone and test yourself in a more interesting way. 

Please remember 

Exam stress is hard and it can cause even the most calm and collected people to freak out. If I am stressed I will get terrible migraines that feel like someone is trampling all over my head so managing stress is key for that to not happen. However, if something has happened or anxiety and stress is making it impossible for you to revise go and see someone. Don't let revision for GCSEs, A Levels or any exam make you feel depressed. It's not worth it. There is more to life than exams - that's not to say they aren't important but your health is more important and if you really do feel down and maybe even suicidal you must talk to someone. A friend, a doctor, a teacher, your parents, me - I DO NOT MIND JUST PLEASE DON'T HURT YOURSELF. You don't have to let your exam results decide your future. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Helping those who self harm

Unfortunately in today's society it is very common for you to know someone who self harms. This number of teenagers grows each year and this means that children of younger ages are going to have to deal with someone who self harms. But in these situations it can be very difficult for you to help someone as the reason for their self harming may be unknown to you or too complex for someone to understand. Often someone who self harms will hide the scars from their peers doing everything in their power to not show those around them. This may be because they are ashamed of what they are doing or because they do not want to draw attention to themselves. 

My experience 

When I was in year 8 this is normally when puberty hits hard and everyone goes a little bit crazy. There are emo phases taking people out one by one and everywhere you turn someone seems to be crying. However these are when real mental health issues can be uncovered. My example is that I have a friend who has a troubled past life but year eight is when it began to upset her. she would self harm all the time and when I released that she was doing I felt powerless. I wanted to tell a teacher but I couldn't as my friend told me she would never speak to me again. I shouldn't have listened to her but I did.

The only way that I saw was a good way of me helping was not to interfere. I needed to make sure she felt secure and I needed to show her that self harm is not the best way to cope with your emotions. There are always others.

What to do

  • Make sure the person in question feels secure and that they know that you are not going around talking about them behind their back. If they find this out it may have an adverse effect. The best thing is to listen to them when they need to talk to you and for you to support them and try to understand them.
  • Try and offer alternatives. I tried to get her to call or text me when she felt like doing it and we organised for her to start doing art as a way of getting her mind down on something. We also did that with writing stories but as she is dyslexic this was quite hard
  • Do not expect that you are going to be able to cure them. You aren't a psychologist and you aren't a miracle worker. Mental illness is very hard to understand as it is different for everyone. For someone people self harm will be a problem throughout their life.
  • Do not let the person feel as if they can rely on you for everything. I let this happen to me in year eight and I was getting phone calls, worrying texts, messages from her saying she was going to kill herself and threats. It is okay to feel not up to helping and to just stop. However if you feel that they are in immediate danger you should phone their parents or you can even phone 999.
  • Never tell them that they are looking for attention. Never. Ever. Ever. Ever. Even if you think that they are just don't. You really have no idea and it could trigger something a lot worse to happen.

When to get help

Deciding when to do this can be very challenging but you should always alert the school. Something I didn't do until much later and I regret it. I wouldn't recommend going to the parents first as they probably haven't dealt with it before and they might react in an rude way.

There are also a number of websites you can go on and you should consider going on Childline and ringing them if it all gets too much. It can be a lot of pressure on you when you are being relied on for such a big topic. No one is going to judge you for say that you can't handle it anymore. It doesn't make you a selfish nor a bad person.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Bookshelf Tour: Part Two

I started this series a while back and I promised another part but then I completely forgot about it and never added another part to it. As I think I have mentioned before: I love books. I read all the time and I enjoy spending hours looking at new books that I could purchase. I am not going to go into detail about every single one as I don't ant my opinion on the novels to change your own but a peep into my book collection my inspire you to purchase some of these books. 

October Faves

October is done and dusted and now it really is time for the Christmas season to start. I am so excited. Here are my favourite beauty items from the past month. Enjoy!

 Bobby Pins! I normally only have two style of hair: down or in a ponytail; however recently I have been branching out and experimenting a bit more. So bobby bins are a must. The only issue is that they are so small and I lose BIG things easily so these are a nightmare. 

Yes I finally have the Clinique Sonic brush and I love it. I am obsessed with having a good skincare routine so this is a welcome item. 

 I have big lips and skin that drys very easily - especially in the colder months so this is very much needed. I am not actually the biggest fan of the flavoured of the Vaseline pots but I have come to love this one. Also they have just released a honey one which I am very excited to try.

 Quite a boring one I am afraid but these are a life saver. In my house as it is owned by the place that my dad works for, we aren't allowed to put things on walls or to mark them so bluetack is a bit of a nightmare. These still mark a bit but no where near as much as BlueTack does (also they're cheaper so what is not to like?)

 Volume in my hair is quite important to me and as I spent many years over-washing and damaging my hair it is quite lank and straight so salt spray is a new part of my hair routine. I do not like the style of this bottle but the product its self is rather wonderful.

Lush was obviously going to be in here somewhere.

 The Yog Nog soap is my favourite at the moment. It smells amazing and it makes my bathroom smell rather wonderful. It was something like £3.48 and it lasts for ages. I have used it everyday since I bought it over four weeks ago and I have only used roughly 1/5 of it. I must stock up for the go after Christmas.
When I went into Lush after they released their Christmas stuff a lady came up to me and told me that this was the product to buy. However I turned my nose up at it. Oh how I regret it. I bought this a few weeks ago and used it on my holiday in Norfolk. It made the bathroom smell so amazing and turned the bath water a blood red colour. It was so wonderful I think it may be my new favourite. 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Anxiety: Bad Dreams and Nightmares

I have decided to start a series about anxiety as it is something that is currently very topical as a lot more people have been diagnosed with it in the last few years. This will not be a weekly thing - it mayn't even be monthly - I will just write when I feel like and when I feel like I need to say something.Today I am going to be talking about bad dreams and nightmares as you can see from the title. 


Everyone seems to believe that bad dreams and nightmares are the same thing; however I completely disagree with that. A bad dream is something that can actually be a good thing but it can shock you, upset you, it can make you question things or bring up old memories. On the other hand a nightmare is normally something that causes you to feel scared, on edge and it can also make you not want to fall asleep again in fear that you may have a similar dream. With bad dreams you want to fall asleep again but you can't. The sequence from the last dream is swirling around your head and your thoughts are racing too quickly for you to be able to control them.

Bad dreams are the worst kind of dream.

Bad dreams often frequent and they can bring up things that you either want to forget or they can create scenarios that you want so badly yet you know that it never will happen. That little portal into a life that you could be leading, the life that you want to be living can give you so much hope and it can make you so happy but when you inevitably wake up it does the opposite and it can ruin your day or week (sometimes longer).

With my anxiety if something distresses me it will cause my anxiety to spike for as long as that thing is distressing me and this upsets me by it's self so the cycle repeats. An example of this is when I had a dream the other night that brought back many memories that I had forgot about an old friend of mine and it then created several scenarios that I have longed to happen for so long (I won't go into detail for personal reasons). When I awoke at around 4.45 am I found it next to impossible to sleep as it caused me to question a lot of things about our relationship. Sleep was out of the question.

Now there are a lot of things that you can do it this situation; you can try desperately to fall asleep again and if this fails I would suggest to get up. If you are able to make noise it your house so that it wouldn't wake up others have a bath or a shower. Don't just lie or sit and let your emotions and anxiety get the better of you. Do something and set yourself tasks. 

Walking helps - I wouldn't suggest that you go out by yourself early in the morning so wait until about 6.30 when there will be commuters out. Make sure you leave a note or text someone to tell them that you have gone somewhere and always stick to populated places. Your personal safety should be your main concern. 

Tell someone about the dream. Dreams are often very boring but to tell your friend or relative about what is distressing you is so important. They are able to help you and even if they aren't very helpful and don't give you very good advice it will help lift a lot of weight of from your shoulders. 

If you are on anxiety medication it is very common for one of the side effects to be 'nightmares' and this includes bad dreams so make sure that when you have your check up appointment you mention these to your doctor as this medication mayn't be suitable for you. If it is causing you to lose sleep you must get it sorted as it is a basic human need.

Don't be afraid to tell people about these dreams - keep a sleep diary or just something so you can keep a recorded of when they happen. You are not to blame for what happens in your subconscious so don't be embarrassed and don't let it depress you. 

Escaping to Norfolk

We all need a break sometimes regardless of age or job sometimes it all just gets a little too much. This happened with my mum who was sick and tired of marking one day so she threw down the work, went online and booked the next available holiday. This so happened to be in Norfolk.

We stayed in a very rural village with only a church and a pub (no shops - not even a little corner shop!) and there was very little phone reception and no internet what-so-ever. It was a good break from everything.

Instead of me going on and on about what we did everyday I thought I would upload a few photos that I took over the last three days so I hope you like photo-heavy posts!

(They're seals but the light and being on a moving boat meant that all of my families pictures were terrible!)