As exam season enters full swing, Adam Finn is on hand to provide his advice about keeping a cool head and reminds us that, at the end of the day, the most important thing to think of no matter what we may undertake is looking after yourself.
Take a moment, and ask yourself what is the most important thing in your life. Is it passing exams? Is it getting your degree? Is it your family, your significant other, your pet animal, your cup of tea at the end of the day? Is it having a good night out?
Really think about this, what is important to you, and what is the most important thing. What is the number one thing that you care about in life. The thing that is most important to you in life. The majority of times people will go with the above answers, and that is great. You have important things in your life that you care about immensely. They may just be part of your life, and may pay a huge role in your life, but let me tell you that if you chose any of the above, that you are wrong.
The most important thing in life is you. Not anyone else. Not anything else. It is you. Time after time we forget this. We put people first. We put hobbies first. It may be a sport or it could be anything. All this is great, but a lot of the time we are forgetting about the most important thing in life. That is you. These other things that you value in life have the full ability to play a brilliant part in your life, but they should not take preference. They can not take preference. You should be the most important thing in your life. Unfortunately, this is not something that we always do. It is the sad truth. The unfortunate truth.
If I am to be honest, I have to admit that I haven’t been the best mentally for the past few weeks. I am not at my worst by any means, but I am not at my usual level of form or routine. I have been sleeping from one to four hours a night. I have not been eating or drinking enough. In my head I have entered an almost self-destructive pattern that I know only leads down road, but I have not quite reached a distinctive low period, but I know that I am not at my best, or for lack of a better phrase, I have not been typical me.
My anxiety has been up. I have let my anger out at people that have been undeserving of it. I have not been my usual fun self. I have seen my concentration levels diminish, my happiness levels not being up to my usual standard. I have been drained, tired, unmotivated. I know that there has been only one cause of this, not to pin everything on just this, but it has been a very prominent factor. This has been due to not looking after the number one, the most important thing in life. This has been due to not looking after me.
I’ve been through a lot during the past two years. From moments of elation, to attempting suicide, and everywhere in between, and I’ve been taught and learned a few things to look after myself and been taught a few things alone the way. Make no mistake, I am no doctor, psychologist or your saviour. I have found a few things that help me, they may not work for you, they may not work for anyone but me, but I said I’d share them in the hope of helping one person get through their day, their exams, or their life.
To start off with the ultimate basics, and it’s something that I don’t pay enough attention to on a day-to-day basis, and never value the importance of until I have went wrong and am feeling the effects. It is simple things that you need to survive. Simple things that you need to stay alive. Simple things that keep you going from day to day. That you need. That are often forgotten about. These three things are eating enough food, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep.
Such basic things are almost taken for granted. There’s always food and water around us, and for the most time, a bed for us to sleep in. We should all be putting time aside each day for us to get our filling of each. Many of us rush to college and don’t eat in the morning, and go for hours until we consume our first bit of food. When I don’t eat enough food, or any food for that matter. I get cranky. I have no energy. I don’t work at my usual capacity. I want to go to bed, and not for the right reasons. So be sure to get food. It fuels our bodies. It fuels our mind. It fuels you.
You may be tired, and coffee may be the answer in your head, and some of the time coffee is the answer to getting through your day, but not always. A lot of time we run out of energy and feel drained, only to fill the crevice with even more coffee, even more caffeine. The simple fact is that a good percent of the time it is water we need. It is something I haven’t been great for recently. Reaching for red bull instead of a bottle of water. It is only once I have had water that I notice the difference and realise that it is the thing that my body has been craving. Water, not caffeine, and it makes all the difference. Once I’m dehydrated, I become lazy, become sleepy, unmotivated, and it’s a slippery slope from there on. So drink water like the taxi just pulled up outside pre drinks and you’ll be fine.
Sleep. Yes, sleep. We all love it, but a lot of the time we approach it the wrong way. We either sleep too much or too little. Sleep too much and it will take you forever to get out of bed, you’ll have an unproductive day and feel guilty. Sleep too little and you’ll be drained, cranky and not operating at an optimum level. Try to go to bed at a reasonable time, if the amount of study you’ve done allows it. Don’t drink caffeine a few hours for bed. Don’t bring your laptop to bed with you. If you’re watching netflix, finish it, leave your laptop downstairs and go to bed. You’re going to bed to go to sleep. To rest. Not to go on social media on your phone. That will only keep your brain functioning and take you longer to get to sleep. If you’re not feeling tired, then read a book. It will wear your brain out without the stimulus of a phone/laptop. One of the toughest things to do is get yourself out of bed in the morning. I’ve had days where I physically can’t get out of bed. Then I have had the days where it has taken every fibre of my being and an internal roar to power myself to throw my legs over the edge of the bed and get up, but every time I have done it, it has been worth it.
They are my three pillars to looking after myself. Along with that comes physical activity, whatever it may be. Socialising, real life socialising, not social media. Connecting with a physical human, sharing a chat, a laugh, anything. Once I let my pillars go, I let myself go. I know I never mean to. I know I shouldn’t let myself go, but it’s only natural to fall off the horse every now and again, you just have to take a breath, realise what’s important, and saddle back up again. It’s the only way to move forward and keeping being the you and you are meant to be.
Enjoy the little things. Make sure to take time out of your day to do this. I may be exam time, but it’s also your time too. It is always your time, and you shouldn’t be afraid of taking a bit of time to do what you enjoy/love each day. If only for a few moments, do it! You deserve it. You need it. And you should be afraid of doing so. If it’s only enjoying that cup of tea and the end of the day. If it’s dancing around your kitchen giving it socks. Do it. You do you. You do what makes you happy. Because we need it. We all need it. You need it.
It’s so important to look after yourself. To put yourself first. You are the number one person in your life. You are something special. Nobody else in the world has experienced your life. Nobody else in the world has felt what you felt. Nobody else in the world has done what you have done. You are unique. You are you. And you should be proud of that. You deserve to treat yourself every now and then. You deserve to be treated well, by yourself and others. So take a break, enjoy yourself. And have a turbo minty fresh day!