Managing Stress and the Jump from School to College!

Hey beauties! Sorry for being AWOL for a while, A-Level stress has taken over my life! And since April is Stress Awareness Month, I think we could all do with a few pointers on how to manage stress, and just life in general, especially now since its exam season (help me). I know that this isn’t really a lifestyle blog, but what’s better than inner peace and beauty when you feel so overwhelmed?

I also didn’t realise that quite a lot of my readers are currently doing their GCSE’s and I got more questions than I expected about the jump from GCSE’s to A-Levels (oh how I miss the good ol’ GCSE days, someone take me back to four years ago 😭). A-Levels have definitely been the most stressful point in my life so far, and according to my teachers they’re more stressful than University will be for me. So let’s just get into how to keep the stress in our lives at bay no matter what point in your life you’re at (cue the inner peace)…

β€’ Breathe β€’

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This might sound so silly, but taking time to just stop in our everyday lives whilst rushing around can become really rare. I definitely don’t have half an hour to just sit and meditate everyday but even if it’s five minutes to just sit, breathe and forget about all the stress just for a few minutes can help us to feel on top of everything a lot more in our lives. Trust me guys, it’s like that one quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.”

I definitely do live by that quote and just taking the time to breathe, admire everything around us and just forget about the stress even if it’s just for a couple of minutes is definitely worth it! Getting out and away from the books can definitely help, spending time with my friends in the sun yesterday for a little while felt so good and made me realise that we all need a break every once in a while, and also remember everything that there is to be happy about – the stress will be over before you know it!

β€’ Headspace – Treat Your Head Right β€’

Speaking of meditating, this app is perfect for those who only have ten minutes, whether it’s just before bed, first thing in the morning or even in the middle of the day. Meditation has positive effects on every aspect of your life from physical benefits to being more creative, improving relationships, focus and anxiety. You can get it here and read more about Andy (the meditation expert who set it up), how it works and the science behind it here. The app which includes ten-day ten minute programs is free so go check it out! I tend to do my ten minute sessions whilst in bed because it allows me to just drift so calmly into sleep and helps me to just wind down after the long day I’ve had. For someone who suffers from anxiety and getting very overwhelmed by stress, this really has helped me in controlling and improving my stress levels and just my life in general. Exercise such as yoga (my favourite) or anything that gets you moving can also definitely help make you feel better!

β€’ Lists, lists, lists β€’

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Creating lists of stuff you have to do can make it all seem more daunting, but being able to check things off of the list always feels so good and can motivate you to do more just so you can tick things off. I separate my lists in order of subjects or topic depending on what I have to do and can really help you become more organised and make you feel less all over the place

β€’ Write things down β€’

This can either be journaling, or organising your days and weeks by writing things down in a planner, I definitely recommend getting one if this works for you or if you’d like to try it out. Having a plan for the day can really help you feel more ready and less stressed, and even though we all feel stressed at some point, knowing what we have to do and where to go can help keep us up on our feet instead of feeling like we’re going to explode from an overload!

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I have this cute little planner which I purchased from Tesco a while ago, and it has everything I need in it from monthly planners, weekly and daily, a little pouch to hold things in, an address book and note pages which all definitely come in handy when it comes to organising my life!

It’s also the perfect size to fit into my bag and carry around wherever I go and I write down everything in here to help me remember pretty much anything and everything.

The jump from GCSE to A-Levels!

So this is a topic I’ve been asked more questions than i expected about and i’ve realised from my standpoint, it is quite important to talk about for my readers who are going to transition from GCSE’s to A-Levels. I am coming towards the end of my A-Levels and weirdly I am feeling really sad knowing that I’ll have finished school in around two months and as stressful as it has been, i really have loved my courses and the entire sixth form experience. Well, most of it. When I  was studying my GCSE’s, the year above were quite helpful when it came to telling us what to expect which was the a) the jump is massive and b) it’s a lot more work. And it really is. But I’m going to try to be a little more helpful when writing this as i feel like you can’t really understand just how to handle such a big difference when you first start and there are a few things which i wish i had done differently when i first started studying my A-Levels which just feels like yesterday (cue the sad songs). I hope these tips are useful to you guys!

We’ll start with how big the jump actually is. So at GCSE’s, you’re studying a load of subjects all at once but if you revise, you can pass with a good grade. When it comes to A-Levels, even though you’re only studying 3 or 4 subjects, just sitting in class and listening is nowhere near enough to pass and even a little revision may not get you an E grade. Picture it like 20% of what you learn in class is what you need, the 80% you do outside of the class will determine your grade (my teachers motto). And it’s true, just one or two subjects give you a tonne more work than you have at GCSE with 8 subjects as it’s not only the work, it’s the homework and revision too. It really does require a lot more work but it will be worth it, and if you need any help or have any questions, I’ll be right here to help! I know the struggle but I know that you can all get through it and I hope these pointers help πŸ™‚

Exam practice is SO important and I’d definitely say it is one of the most important factors when it comes to passing your A-Levels. You can know 100% of the content for your subject and still not pass if you’re not familiar with how the exam paper will look, how questions will be asked and how they will be marked according to the mark scheme. 

Whilst studying these past two years, ive heard my teachers say “that would be good at GCSE, but will get you no marks in the A-Level exam” so many times and it’s true. A-Levels test your ability to write in-depth and detailed answers compared to just reeling off knowledge. For maths, seeing an exam paper for the first time at the start of the course was like looking at a foreign language and that definitely isnt the reaction you want when you sit down in the exam hall. So get familiar with past papers, questions and mark schemes as well as timing since a lot of people including myself are still struggling with writing A-Level standard answers in the time given. 

Knowing how answers will be marked is a major help and got me my B in English in my first exam – I wrote an entire essay on a poem i’ve never read just because I wrote my answer structured according to how the mark scheme the examiners use would mark it by. And it worked! Mark schemes are going to be your new best friend, trust me. You can find them online on your exam boards website and just printing them off as well as the exam papers and examiner reports (these are also really helpful) and getting familiar with them will really help, I can’t emphasise it enough. There are so many resources on the exam boards websites which can help guide you so you don’t feel so overwhelmed and lost, and not a lot of people use them but if you use them to your advantage, you’ll be on the right path to passing

For subjects such as Psychology/Sociology/English/Law etc. or any other subject, I’d recommend summarising what you’ve learnt the day you learn the content in class so that when it comes to revising, you’ll have already gone over it twice and therefore you’ll remember it better. This could either  be re-writing notes in a notebook, making colourful mind maps, flash cards or any other way you feel helps you. Planning and organising your time from day one is also so useful. My year group is the last year group who will have done their AS exams one year and their A2 exams in the second year (so the exam board can basically do what they like with these last exam papers, pray for us). I really do feel for you guys as you’ll have to remember two years worth of content for the entire two years so summarising and continuously going over content to keep it fresh with so much to remember will definitely help to make sure you don’t forget any key content.

If you have any more questions, feel free to comment or message me on Instagram (@allthingsbeautyobsessed) and i’ll  be more than happy to help!

So this is the end of this lengthy post but I hope it has been helpful and was fitting considering it’s Stress Awareness Month. I’ve really enjoyed writing this so if you guys would like to see more posts like this, let me know! Inner peace and beauty is just as important and we can all conquer any stress we’re experiencing together β™₯

I’ll see you guys here soon! Don’t forget to subscribe so you can be the first to read my next blog post (which I’ve been working really hard on and think you guys will love!)

This is a collab with the lovely Tash who wrote a post on 10 ways to stay motivated so go give that a read! β™₯

Thank you for reading! Lots of love,

Zahra xxx