For many high school students, people feel as though they have lost their spare time, often due to: school, study, work and other commitments. It is completely normal to feel like this, however, it is our own personal responsibility to ensure that we reduce this stress.

Get a planner

In order to keep your balance, you need to be organised. By having a planner, you have easy access to your schedule. Write down all your assessments/exams and other plans, when you get the details.

For me personally, I like to get a plain journal and make my own planner, simply because this gives you more freedom than your typical planner. I set mine out so that I have a calendar type of spread over two pages and colour in different days a different colour for different things (say if I had a biology assessment on the 17th of June I would colour that box in blue), so that it is quick overview of my month. The next couple of pages I leave to make notes, these are normally things that do not fit on a single day, but I need to make not for it. Then I have a page for each day; I make a note of what assessments/exams I have on that day, what time I am working, chores I need to do and other events/activities.

Allow yourself time to do things you want to do

The whole point of having a planner is to allow yourself to have time for you. If you are constantly studying and working then you are going to become mentally tired, and your stress levels are going to be ridiculously high.

For me personally, I was at school 7:30-5:30 most days, because my teachers would let me sit in their office outside of school hours to study. I spent most of my snack and lunch in a room doing homework or studying, because I knew that by the time that I got home I wouldn’t be able to do this. Obviously doing school work for 10 hours a day would be draining, so I would enable flexibility and gave myself a lunch time break if I really needed it. After getting home I would walk my dog, have my dinner and have a shower; depending on what was going on at school I would go back and study for another hour or 2, or watch some TV. I also always made sure that I had a day off during the week, either a Saturday, or Sunday and do whatever I needed to wind down.

Go out with friends and family and leave the books

Seriously, do not study 24/7, you will drive yourself crazy. Allow your schedule to occasionally change and go out.

I have seen a lot of schools recommending that you spend 16hrs over the weekend studying, after being at school for 25hrs and having to study 10-15hrs after school. If you think about it, you’re spending 51-56hrs a week focusing on school if you do that. There is only 168hrs a week. If you sleep for 8hrs every day and do school work for 56hrs a week, you only have a spare 56hrs in the week. That is not including the time it takes you to get to school/home, or look after yourself, or even the time you’re at work. 56hrs sounds like a lot of spare time, but it’s really not. Allow yourself to go out and see your friends and turn your brain off.

Sometimes you will be faced with a really stressful situation.

You know when you find yourself in a really stressful situation, your thoughts can start to become catastrophic, you might be on the verge of tears (or maybe you have already started crying), how do you calm down? It is totally ok to feel stressed and overwhelmed; this is an extremely draining time of your life, this can have an impact on all five dimensions of your health and wellbeing, it can be an unrealistic expectation to think that you’re not going to be overwhelmed at school. So, you obviously need to be able to calm down.

In stressful situations, you should try to take some deep breaths, your body has released a whole heap of hormones, so that you can either fight the source of stress, or run away from it. Allow yourself to cry, sometimes that is all you need to do, in order to calm down. Talk to a friend, parent, teacher or another person that you trust, talking about what is stressing you out can help you find a solution.

Year 11 and 12 students, you need to know that your stress is normal; however, if it is interfering with your everyday life, you need to talk to an adult that you trust. I highly recommend downloading; ‘Smiling Mind’ and ‘What’s Up?’; these are apps that I find helpful during stressful times, and the app ‘Forest’; which is useful for time management. They can be found on the app store. Make the most out of your final years and enjoy yourself 🙂