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Stress / Leaving Cert.

Posted by Francis O' Toole on May 7, 2015

Are you noticing increased stress levels in your teen? Are you aware of a change in their mood? Is their sleep interrupted? Are you getting anxious? Perhaps, your teen is distracted, not working enough or on the other hand working too much? It is the first of May and there are about seven weeks in the countdown to the Leaving Cert.

In order to make maximise these last few weeks and to reduce the stress levels, encourage your teen to follow these tips:

  • Commit for the final few weeks to give it your best shot. Set yourself a goal, visualise it, make it crystal clear in your mind and aim for it. Say to yourself that you can do it.
  • Have a back-up plan or insurance option. Look at Access Courses, Post Leaving Cert Courses. Consider taking a year out to work and gain experience if you don’t feel ready for College. Not everyone has to go to College. Therefore, consider apprenticeships and more vocational routes at your local ETB.
  • Know that the Change of Mind option on CAO kicks in from the 5th of May until the 1st of July. Revisit your CAO form and make sure that you are happy with all of your choices. They need to be in your genuine order of preference. The Change of Mind function allows you to change your mind more than once at no fee and to make adjustments. Remember to keep a record of your submissions. Bear in mind that Restricted Courses follow different criteria.
  • Ensure you PLAN when you are going to study. Create a timetable. Be strategic. Look at each subject and the main topics. Consult previous papers. Organise your notes, use spider grams or Mind Maps, record cards or use colour coding. Avoid the distractions of the mobile phone and internet. Switch the phone off or put it on silent mode.
  • Make sure you drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water The brain needs water to function properly. Avoid Caffeine and other sugary drinks. Sugary foods and drinks will cause a spike in your energy followed by a crash in energy.
  • Maintain good posture. Stretch when you can. Do some simple shoulder rolls, neck stretches and arm and finger movements. During this time of year Leaving Cert students can suffer from sore backs and tension in the upper body. Tightening of the muscles can reduce blood flow and supply to the brain. This can effect concentration.
  • Remember to breathe Sometimes, when we are stressed we can panic and experience short breaths. The body and brain requires oxygen to operate at an optimum level. Deep breaths reduce anxiety.
  • Get regular light to moderate exercise Exercise is the greatest stress buster and energy giver. Getting to bed at regular times as sleep is crucial to optimum brain function.
  • Eat healthily. Make sure that you Increase your protein, fruit and vegetables as well as get plenty of good fats into your diet in the form of nuts, seeds, fish, fish oils, olive oil. Good fats act as lubrication to the brain. Avoid alcohol .At this time of year, a good multivitamin as well as an Iron Supplement for some teenage girls may be advisable.

Remember, this is the final countdown and the last few weeks at school and it will all be over soon. Encourage your teen to build a picture in their minds of their ideal future lifestyle and work and to remind themselves that the hard work will be worth the cost.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist and scientist

Their approach to these next few weeks will boost their chance of success. Dearbhla Kelly, Careers Consultant

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