So today I go back to uni for exam term. And if I'm completely honest, I'm completely fucking terrified. Not because I hate exams or because they're finals (I'll have to handle that Everest next year!) but because I think it'll be the first real test of how much mental health progress I've made since my depression diagnosis and intermission. 

I know I shouldn't really b thinking of it that way. My counsellor has told me over and over that whatever happens with these exams, it's not a reflection of my mental health progress.

But I still can't help making that connection. See, I'm still pretty scarred by the memories of my last exam term, which unfortunately coincided with my first really serious depressive episode. I remember bein unable to revise for more than 15 minutes at a time, being unable to get out of bed, being incredibly isolated and feeling utterly helpless. This was the time when I was first given my depression diagnosis, so unfortunately there's a sense in which exam term and mental health deterioration are a constantly connected to me. Without mental health issues, Exam term can be difficult at my uni at the best times, because everyone is so academic and studious that it's very easy to go a few days without seeing or talking to anyone. It can sometimes feel like a bit of a pressure cooker. 

I've actually always been someone who handles pressure very well. I've always been good at exams, and I've always been able to handle tight deadlines. But I feel quite changed since that last time. I'm feeling nervous about how I'll handle it this time, and whether I'll be able to revert to my old ways of thriving under pressure.

I guess what I think has happened is that I've built up a rather irrational fear of exams. Irrational because I've done them for years and I've always been good at them, and worked well under them. I've tried to put together some sort of plan of action for when I'm back, so that I feel as though I have some control, and that I'm giving myself the best chance to be both physically and mentally healthy and prepared. 

I thought these tips might come in handy for anyone else who worries about exams, or is needing tips on how to focus. 

1.) ROUTINE- The absolute most important thing I think - something that I know is going to be difficult but that I'm going to have to be incredibly strict with myself on, because I know how much it affects my mood and productivity these days! In the good old days I could sleep at 4am, wake up at 11 and work through the day. But no more. This term I'm going to try and be in bed by 12, up by 9, and take regular short breaks. Routine really does help make you feel more organised and energised! Also making sure you're eating properly and drinking enough, such basics but so important!

2.) TAKE TIME FOR SELF CARE - This is going to be another biggy for me. My down time is practically only sitting to watch Netflix and eat snacks. And, as much as I love doing that, my counsellor keeps banging on about the need to add some other types of activity for down time (I know she's right really). I'm going to try and start going to the gym for an hour just twice a week - it's important to set achievable goals, remember! Exercise is such actually a good mood booster as well as obviously being good for your body too!

3.) WORK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE - Now, what I mean by this is, take time to know your learning style. For example, I know that I learn best by making sets of colourful revision notes. I also think I'll work better in the library or at a desk in my room (and NOT on my bed - something I always used to do but I just can't do anymore). There's no one way t study, so if you know you're a visual learner, play to that strength. If you know you're an audio learner, make yourself some podcasts, or download something! There's no point making copious notes if it's never going to sink in. 

That's everything! I think I've realised that I'll need to approach this term differently at least, just to break this fear of exams. I'm thinking these tips will help me best, so I hope they will help you too! 

Until next time, 
Bisous <3



Top: H&M
Jeans: Na-kd Fashions
Bag: Zara
Hair Band: Claire's
Trainers: Adidas

What's your opinion?