Year 12. A mess of good times, bad times, fun times, and sad times. It’s the year you’ve been waiting for. The year where it feels like everything matters. The year of stress. I know that this is exactly how I felt when I started Year 12 in 2020. The pressure was high, and I felt like I needed to study day in and day out, all day, every day.
But in reality, this is the worst thing you can do.
Becoming a successful student is about way more than just working hard all the time. You need to have breaks, you need to take rest and most importantly you need to enjoy your year. You only get one Year 12, so yes, work hard, but also remember to party hard as well.
This is a strange message for a lot of students to hear, but it’s arguably one of the most important. To be more specific I want to break down 3 key ways that you can achieve balance in Year 12: breaks, socialising and exercising.
So you’ve been studying for an hour and your hand is feeling tired, your brain more so. Your knuckles are white because you have been gripping your pen for so long. Your handwriting is beginning to slip and you just can’t seem to focus.
Take. A. Break.
You need to stop studying or working every now and again because otherwise you’ll lose out on productivity. And when I say break, I don’t mean get your phone out and text all your friends – that’s the wrong kind of break. The break I’m referring to is what I like to call a ‘power break’. You get up, walk around, get a glass of water, a piece of fruit and go outside to get some fresh air. You finish your fruit, wash your hands and sit back down to start again.
It’s that simple. That’s all you realistically have to do. In doing this you allow your brain to take a break from focussed thinking and transition into diffused mode thinking. This means essentially hitting a reset button on your brain’s battery and getting back into full productivity.
If you want a clock to make sure you take breaks, just search up ‘pomodoro timer’. it’ll have short blocks of intense study and then short breaks to recharge.
Year 12 is the year many of your friends will turn 18, and they may have a party. Obviously if you have a test the next day it may not be the wisest decision to go and stay up late partying, but on a normal night you should definitely try to attend if you can and want to. Being social is a great way to relax from the stress of Year 12 and remind yourself that this year can be one of the most enjoyable of your lives. This will also help you not to burn out and lose motivation to study.
That being said, you need to ensure that you still focus on studying – it is ultimately the main point of Year 12. So while it’s definitely important to stay social and spend time with friends, make sure you are maintaining a balance with both work and socialising.
Many schools offer students to be able to opt in or opt out of core Health and Physical Education classes (HPE). My suggestion is to opt in for these as often as possible. It’s a great idea to be able to get a break in the day where you aren’t forced to study or sit in a classroom and be quiet. The opportunity to go outside and just move your body is invaluable and you should definitely take full advantage of it.
I also highly recommend playing some sort of sport if you can, even if you’re not good at it. Just get a group of friends together and play football, basketball or whatever sport you want. This is another great way to both socialise and take a break.
I know what you’re thinking, though: I can just use that time as a free period where I can study or take a break on my computer/phone. And while you would be correct in saying this, I am sure that having some physical activity every day is far more beneficial for brain function and academia than an extra hour of study.
Even during externals – the busiest time of year – I made sure to go for a run on the oval instead of taking the study period, and it was honestly one of the most helpful things in calming me down and ensuring I was prepared for the tests ahead.
In all, Year 12 will be what you make of it. If you choose to study all the time, it will be tiring, boring and stressful. On the flip side if you maintain balance in the 3 ways highlighted above, I promise you that it will be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding years of your life.
Good luck with Year 12 I wish you all the best! 😊
– Rishi Goel
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