How I Cope With Stress: Exams

It’s the night before an important event: a big exam, a major presentation, your wedding. How do you calm your nerves in preparation for the big day?

I’ve had a lot of nerves to cope with this year: 21 exams, a speech at prom to around 250 people, doing a summer program with new people I’d never met before, starting sixth form. So, I can say that I have developed a few different ways of coping with stress the night before. Most of these ideas are for during an exam season.

For each exam, I would compile a summary of all the notes at least a week before the exam, and I would spend no more than half an hour reading through these notes the night before the big day. This seemed to reassure me that I had learned everything, as each point I went over I would think ‘oh, I know that!’. Any more reading would make me worry and panic that I hadn’t revised enough (when I REALLY had!).

I must admit that I didn’t do this enough, but going for runs or walks really helps to physically deal with nerves, or any negative emotion. I don’t have a bike, but bike rides are just as good for you. Don’t overdo it, though, 10-15 minutes a couple of times a week is fine.

Staying healthy always helped me because it gave me a positive attitude, which made me more confident in myself. So, I like to have smoothies and try to stick to 5-a-day. A lot of people my age don’t have breakfast, and it is something I still struggle with, but forcing myself to eating something, anything, rather than nothing at all often helps. Attempting to do exams or the like running on no energy is going to be really hard, so I think this is one of the most important tips.

But, in terms of the night before, eating a filling dinner means you’re more likely to sleep well. A treat like chocolate or biscuits can’t hurt either, and is a nice comfort to help relax. I usually go for cheesecake, ice cream or Oreos.

A long bath soak with a book or music, or both, always seems to help me. I usually do this before I go to bed because I feel relaxed so I’m less likely to stay up worrying.

Doing something you enjoy can distract you from nerves. Personally, I write in my journal or a blog post, watch youtube videos or TV, read and listen to music.

I learned that during the exam season, you have to be selfish. Friends become a lower priority, and that’s ok because you have plenty of time in the holidays to make up for not seeing them as much. My advice is to avoid social media, especially Facebook the night before an exam. Talking to people in the same situation can stress you out more if they are struggling to cope. Also, don’t feel like you have to reassure everyone else; just focus on yourself. This is what I mean about being selfish. It’s not being mean, it’s just allowing yourself to do the best you can, which is what you deserve.

Though, if you’re feeling so nervous that it’s making you upset you must talk to someone. Let it out to a family member, teacher or a friend. Make sure you don’t suffer in silence if nerves are severely affecting you.

Getting a good night’s sleep is often really hard to do because nerves keep you up, but it’s vital to do well the next day. So, some light exercise like I mentioned is good to wear you out a bit, so you’re more sleepy. Then, I like to listen to music for a while and read in bed. It’s very tempting, but going on phones or laptops makes you less likely to sleep because of the white light. If I want to do that, I try and finish browsing the internet or whatever earlier in the evening. I read until I feel pretty tired and then I turn off the light and try to go to sleep. If I’m honest, this doesn’t always work and I lie awake for a while. But reading before is better than spending hours lying awake, stressing about the next day.

Often thoughts that keep you up at night are negative and depict the worst case scenario. Tell yourself this and focus on something else. I usually try to imagine a happy, peaceful scene, like an ideal holiday or an event I’m looking forward to.

I hope this helps anyone with a big day coming up!


Just don’t break her heart, okay?

You’ve been given the opportunity to send one message to one person you wouldn’t normally have access to (for example: the President. Kim Kardashian. A coffee grower in Ethiopia). Who’s the person you choose, and what’s the message?

Dear Future Boyfriend of Lucinda,

Hello. You got this far without being put off by her weirdness, so congratulations! Good luck with the strange things that will come out of her mouth as she gets more comfortable with you.

Anyway, let’s get down to business. Please don’t break her heart. You’re her first serious boyfriend, so she kinda deserves it to be special. So, don’t be a dick, don’t even think about cheating, and just treat her right. Believe me, her friends might not look tough, but if you do wrong, they WILL kill you. Beware…

The most important thing to her is honesty, so respect that, and be honest. Don’t expect her to change for you, or expect to change yourself for her.

And finally, thanks for picking her. The girl who can’t touch her own toes without bending her knees. The girl who hates dodgeball with passion. The girl who doesn’t usually get noticed. Thanks.

P.S. I know I’ve already said this, but don’t be dick. Really. Don’t.

The Problems of a Bad Tree-drawer

How are you at receiving criticism? Do you prefer that others treat you with kid gloves, or go for brutal honesty?

I think I have improved a lot recently at receiving criticism. My sensitive character caused me to take things too personally. I once cried when I was told that I didn’t draw trees the ‘right way’. To be fair, I was only nine or ten. I didn’t even know there was a right way to draw trees!

I have come to understand that most criticism is intended to help the receiver improve in whatever they do. That helps me take honest views from people, because I do want to improve as much as I can, so I can be the best I can be at all I do. I still feel, though, that it’s just in my nature that I dwell on criticism possibly more than is necessary.

I would definitely prefer to have honest criticism. The ‘brutal’ part isn’t exactly enticing, but sometimes you need to hear it! I’d rather know what is wrong, or weak, than go on pretending that what I am doing is amazing.

The type of criticism I am worst at taking is about my posture. Whenever my family comment that I am hunching, it makes me even more self-conscious- when I hunch, it is because I am self-conscious! Another reason it gets to me is that it is so hard to change. I have become so used to hunching that I don’t notice and it is hard to straighten up without feeling awkward or stupid.

You get a lot of criticism when you’re a teenager. From people your own age, even if it’s just a dirty look from the mean girl. From teachers, with pressure added… From parents and most adults!

In terms of giving criticism, I think sometimes I am too subtle or try to be nice, which isn’t always what the person wants.

All in all, I am, and always have been, a sensitive person. So criticism is hard, but important and useful to me. And giving criticism can be hard when I am sensitive of other people’s feelings too.

Stop reading if you don’t like cheesecake!

You’re about to enter a room full of strangers, where you will have exactly four minutes to tell a story that would convey who you really are. What’s your story?

Who am I really?

I am a teenager trying to grip hold of the little girl inside me that is gradually drifting away; and cowering away from womanhood that looms ahead. Here is my story.

I was born in Chester and it wasn’t long until my parents divorced, when I was age four. It’s not the divorce that I remember, or that hurt me-it was what came after it, and what still goes on now. Yes, my dad cheated. And in short, I am still not fully okay with this.

But young four year old me was protected for some time by naivety. As I grew up, moving house to places across England, I developed into a shy girl. I went through a series of best friends, who left me, or were left by me, who turned out to be bullies or just drifted from. While the bullying and the anxiety gnawed away at me, I was too lost in my shell to realize that one day those things would make me stronger. And over the years, I have developed, as they say, a thicker skin.

More recently I have been through more, and being aware and unprotected by the cocoon of innocence and naivety, it has affected me more deeply. I have lost people I loved. I have met new people I hated. I have spent months trying to work out how to deal with the effects of these things. One of the best ways was through writing. Even now, speaking daunts me, so writing has always been my strong point because it such a liberating way to express your thoughts and emotions.

I think I am allowed to call myself a dark horse, because I always seem to surprise some people when I succeed. Either because I was working hard, but so quietly they forgot about me, or they just never saw me as competition. But my GCSE results are an example of something I have worked very hard to be proud of.

A select group of friends know what I am like when I am being myself, and not the quiet me. Then, I am crazy, silly sometimes, but still as caring-I hope-as usual. If you want to get on my good side, I love oreos, cheesecake and chocolate. I am mildly offended when people say they don’t like any of these divine creations.

Hobby-wise, I like to read, write poetry, walk or jog, listen to music, watch action films, make cards and sometimes draw, watch youtubers, go to concerts/festivals, sing in a choir, hide at the back in the school production, hold my rabbits, have gorgeous lie-ins and be an idiot with my friends.

I am trying very hard not to take life too seriously. (That sounds a bit like an oxymoron…) There’s not much left to know about me! I like honest people; honesty is the most important quality  to me. Oh and I’m sixteen years old, studying A-levels and hoping to go to uni and then become a writer of some sort. And, despite the English rain and other disappointments in my life, I have to say it’s a pretty good life.

Faulty Humans and Frill-less Love

Today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.

Something that I can feel okay about being confused about, because it even confuses science is love.

Love is complicated, hard, amazing, so many things. Relationships are so intricate, even just with acquaintances. You never know how someone else really feels about you, and you have to trust that they are showing their honest, true self. So many people don’t even know that people have feelings for them, or are even in love with them. And then there’s the meaning of being ‘in love’. Some people take the meaning too lightly, some become obsessed and crazed.

Feelings are so difficult because they are often out of your control. You can’t stop yourself from being affected by things, it’s just natural. Yes, you can repress your emotions and hide them from others. That’s another complication. We only see a snapshot of someone’s life and sometimes we  judge them too heavily on that tiny part of their life, we assume, we create false images and ideas.

Humans have so many faults! How do so many people fall in love with someone that has done so many bad things?

Because they are human, and faults make up our lives, and build us into stronger versions of ourselves.

I think love is beautiful. The raw, real love that doesn’t need cheesy songs or any sort of frills. Just two people that like each other’s faults more than anyone else.

We hear of these happy stories of true love and cute old couples that have spent their lives together. I just want that. Even if it’s not for very long. Doesn’t everyone want that?

It makes me sad because the people that lie and cheat are just winding the tangle of lives and faults so that the people that are meant for each other have more trouble finding each other.

Love ramble over…

What is beauty?

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

Yes. i think beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. Except there’s a ‘but’. And the ‘but’ is that society has such a strong influence on how people perceive the world that many people follow the same beliefs and conventions. These ideas that have been drilled into people’s minds make me wonder if they weren’t so used to thinking that a certain feature is attractive, would they have a different opinion?

I understand that down to human nature, we are all attracted to features, which can be scientifically proven. This leads me on to question what beauty is. The definition: “a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”

But is this really what beauty is? I feel that emotions and personality have more to say than it seems about beauty. For instance, clothing isn’t just about physical appearance, but it can represent so much about a person and their character.

In my opinion, the most beautiful thing is sincerity. When something has not only a meaning, but a genuine, heartfelt meaning. Like a smile- it’s so easy to tell a fake smile, and to me it’s ugly. It’s a bright, sincere smile that I find beautiful. Even if it isn’t often that someone does smile, it’s better than always having a fake smile.

Freeman’s the Man 

Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?

This is easy.Morgan Freeman! I could write posts about anything and he would make them sound epic. And it would also be like God is reading my posts, which is pretty awesome,too.

If I could get Taylor Swift to turn my poems into songs that would be AMAZING. Of course, I’d let Ed Sheeran join in so they could do another cute duet.

I’d like to hear what an opera inspired by my posts would sound like too!

And then there’s Audrey Hepburn (I’m assuming we’re allowed to include the deceased as they could come down from heaven or wherever for a day just to record the audiobook) . I just love her voice. She could read my posts as Holly Golightly!

Just Enjoy It!

In a reversal of Big, the Tom Hanks classic from the 80s, your adult self is suddenly locked in the body of a 12-year-old kid. How do you survive your first day back in school?

It says ‘adult self’, but I can’t really say I’m an adult yet. Young adult, maybe, but I’m not finished growing up just yet. Still, it feels like lifetimes ago when I look back at my twelve year old self-even though it was only four years ago! 

I would survive my first day back in school by just enjoying it! Now I look back and think about the amount of time I spent worrying about stupid little things (which I still do from time to time), I can see that it was all a waste of time, because everything turned out fine. I would walk straight past the bullies and nasty kids, not even wasting a glance on them. 

A couple of changes to appearance I would make would to definitely dress like a GIRL! When I was twelve, even though my clothes out of school were okay, I seemed to pick the most hideous, unflattering items for my school uniform. Part of the reason was being too lanky to fit into regular sized clothes properly, but I also didn’t seem to bother with trying to look nice. I remember in my second year of secondary school, I just gave up completely and went from carrying a handbag to a rucksack and stopped doing much of anything to my hair (except washing!). I thought that whatever I wore or did, I would still get bullied, and it was true to an extent. So, on my first day as a ‘reborn’ twelve year old, I would wear something I feel comfortable in and that actually fits me! 

Then, after getting over the whole ‘being twelve again’ thing and appearance and bullies, I would just enjoy it. Not having to stress about anything like exams or money. A whole life ahead of me, waiting for opportunity to strike…

Stinky fish, gory bodies and boredom

I’m going to cheat a bit because it says to pick one job, but there are many jobs that I would hate to do. 

Firstly, the whole field of medicine is out of the question for me as I can’t stand gore and I am not good with blood. So, doctors, dentists, opticians, etc are a big no-no.

Then, on a similar note, I would not be able to work in a morgue or anything like that as dead people are 1) kind of creepy to be around, 2) depressing, especially when you think about their death and family… 3) in a mean way, smelly. 

That leads me on to stinky jobs. Since I hate fish because of the smell any job that involves fish is revolting to me. If I worked in a factory or a power plant where the gases and chemicals would smell, I probably wouldn’t be able to stand it,so that can be added to the list. 

Thinking more deeply, I would have to say that an admin or secretarial office job would be a nightmare because the monotonous routine would bore me to death. Also, I feel that although someone has to do those jobs, and I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I would just be annoyed at the fact that I could be doing bigger and better things. This relates to low paid jobs such as cleaning. 

Looking at the way my list of nightmare jobs has developed, I seem to be picky about jobs. The reason is ambition. I want to and believe I can, one day, do a job that I love and I can be successful and happy in. 

‘Ladies of Leisure’-not me

If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

I have a definite answer to this question, and it is yes! Firstly, I don’t plan on working just for the money (although it would be nice to be comfortable financially). Also, I wouldn’t be able to sit around all day without a purpose. Free time is great, but that’s mainly because it’s time you take out of your schedule just for you. If I had free time ALL the time I would feel selfish and probably bored. I look at a lot of stay at home parents, especially with few children and sometimes wonder what they do all day. I understand why some parents would want time of during the first years of their child’s life, but when they get to a certain age and they are at school all day, surely it gets repetitive and boring? 

I would probably work part time if money wasn’t a problem, so that I would have more free time to do the things I have always wanted to do, but have never had the time to do. Like skydiving, sewing and reading all the books that I never get round to reading. At the same time, I feel I would need to work a reasonable amount of hours per week to feel a sense of achievement. 

So, to sum up my answer, no, I could not be a lady of leisure. But, I could give up more working time to give myself some extra free time.