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Supporting your Wellbeing - Leaving Certificate 2020

There are steps that you can take to support your wellbeing during this time. https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/d8920c-leaving-cert-2020/
02-May-20
Supporting your Wellbeing - Leaving Certificate 2020

Leaving Certificate Students 2020

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You are preparing for your Leaving Certificate/LCA/LCVP during unprecedented times: public health measures have been put in place to stop the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ireland to keep as many people as possible safe. This means that we have had to practice physical distancing and stay at home. Schools have been closed and it has been necessary to change the examination arrangements. We are all adjusting and adapting to this new challenge, and that can be hard, especially while preparing for examinations – a time when it is normal to feel some stress and worry. There are steps that you can take to support your wellbeing during this time.

The links below can take you to specific information about the Leaving Certificate exams, and to wellbeing resources and supports.

This hub provides access to a wide range of information and supports for schools as they embark on their wellbeing promotion process.

There are steps that you can take to support your wellbeing during this time.

It will help to:

Stay Active

Include some physical activity into your daily routine:

  • The current advice suggests that we get some sunshine and fresh air by going for a walk, run or cycle provided we stay within 2 kilometres of our homes, and keep 2 metres distance from other people. From next Tuesday 5 May, you can go up to 5 kilometres from your home for exercise.
  • This could also include exercise at home (e.g. yoga, dance, weights, skipping).
  • The government campaign In This Together has lots of great suggestions on physical activity.

Stay Connected

Include some social activity:

  • We all find it hard to be away from our friends, to practice physical/social distancing and to stay at home. Use technology to stay in touch. Social connection is very important at the moment.
  • Schedule in time to ensure that you remain in regular contact with your friends. Even though we are going through a period of isolation, it is important to stay connected and to keep talking! Connect with your family. Find similar interests and plan to watch TV together, have family dinners, play a favourite quiz or board games, or take on a jigsaw challenge together.

Draw on your support networks:

  • If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed you need to be able to draw on the support of others. Talk to family and friends about your feelings. Sharing thoughts or worries with others really does help. Ask for support from someone you trust.
  • If you think you need additional help consider contacting your school where support is available. There are also lots of support services for young people that provide advice and support via text, email and online.
  • It is also important to be able to provide support to others if you can. Think about who you may be able to reach out to in your support network.

Stay Positive and Calm

Notice your feelings:

  • Over the next few weeks you may have lots of different feelings. You may feel stressed, anxious, sad, afraid, fed up, angry, frustrated, shocked or even numb. Some of you may feel nothing at all. These are all normal and healthy reactions to stressful situations, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel.
  • If your feelings and reactions seem different from those of your friends, remember that everyone reacts differently, see Leaving Certificate Preparation – Managing your thoughts and feelings .

Be kind to yourself:

  • These are challenging and unprecedented times. It is completely normal if, at times, you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or worried about the current situation. Stress limits our energy and ability to concentrate so you need to be realistic about what you can achieve. It is important to be gentle with yourself and to practice some self-care.

Take time for enjoyable/creative activities:

  • Make sure to factor in breaks to your daily routine, take quiet time and do activities you enjoy throughout the day.
  • Identify what it is that helps you to relax. It is different for everybody but it is important to include time to relax at different points during the day. It might involve being active or it might involve winding down. It might also include doing some meditation, mindfulness or yoga. Other ideas on how to relax can be found here and here .
  • Do something you enjoy or try something creative every day. Think about things that make you feel good, then make it happen – like listening to music, going for walks, doing an exercise routine, writing, drawing, cooking or watching a funny movie. Remember laughter is good medicine!

Focus on what you can control:

  • There is a lot going on at the moment that you cannot control. It is important to keep in mind the difference between dealing with things you can change and being able to accept those you can’t. Spending too much time thinking about things you can’t change is not helpful and will prevent you from concentrating on things you can do.
  • It is important to focus on what you can do to prepare for the exams, to make a plan and to continue to focus on what positive action you can take to prepare for them.
  • Focus on what you can do right now.

Try to limit your exposure to the media:

  • Remember that there are a lot of different opinions, rumours and ‘fake news’ going around at the moment. If you are worried about them, talk to someone you trust.
  • Get your information from a reliable source to ensure the information you are receiving is accurate.
  • Continually talking about COVID-19 or watching constant updates on it can increase your anxiety. Although it is important to keep up to date, try to limit how often you are accessing information on the internet, television and social media. If you have updates coming through to your phone, limit how often you check them.
  • It may also be useful to turn updates off for a few days.

See here for more information

Have a Plan for the Day

Routines and schedules are the key to getting through this new phase of our lives. Making our days structured and predictable will help us feel secure and will bring some predictability to the current situation. We can help ourselves get through this time by creating a Plan for the Day, every evening for the day ahead. When creating a Plan for the Day think about the following:

Include some basic daily activities:

  • Sleep is good for our health and wellbeing so it’s important to get plenty of sleep - eight to twelve hours is recommended. Try to get to bed at the same time every night. Leaving the phone, laptop and tablet outside the bedroom will help to get a better night’s sleep. More information on what will help is here.
  • It’s also important to eat healthily and to drink lots of water.
  • Remember to include showering and getting dressed into the Plan for the Day.
  • It is important to spend time with others, try to include family meals into your timetable.

Include some physical activities, social activities and enjoyable/creative activities as well as a study routine.

(Remember to discuss your plan with your family to make sure that your plan for meals, computer time, showering etc. works for everyone.)

Keep Learning

When studying and revising for exams, set realistic goals and try not to be too hard on yourself. Make sure to pace yourself, take plenty of breaks because this is a ‘marathon and not a sprint’. Don’t feel guilty if you find it difficult to concentrate on certain days. Tomorrow is a new day so wipe the slate clean and start afresh.

Create study routines:

  • This is not an easy time to study, but keeping a study routine is important. Put together a study timetable with time slots to focus on different subjects.
  • It is often hard to stay focused when working alone at home. This is normal. Taking regular breaks and rewarding yourself is key to staying motivated.
  • If you have a place in your home where you can make your own study space this will help. If it’s possible, try to study somewhere with little noise or distractions and away from where you normally relax.
  • Some schools are using technology to support Leaving Certificate students with their schoolwork. If your school is doing this, remember to check the school website and your email regularly. If you have difficulty accessing online content, classes or resources contact your school. They will help you to resolve these issues.
  • Make contact with your school if you have questions or require further clarification or information on the topics you are studying.
  • Set realistic deadlines and tasks to complete every day. Identify a small number of specific goals each day. It is often helpful to complete the most challenging task first. Alternatively you could start with a task you enjoy, move to a more challenging task and finish with a subject you really like, even if the topic isn’t the easiest.
  • Use breathing and relaxation strategies to improve focus and concentration before and during study periods. See Relaxation techniques
  • Set definite time-limits for assigned work and reward yourself when you get the task done, Many people find using a timer to break work down into time intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks, works well.
  • For certain subjects, many students find flashcards particularly helpful in revision. You may find it useful to prepare digital versions and there are many free apps which facilitate this. One of the best known is ankiapp but also try others to find something which particularly suits your style.
  • Keep a log of what you have worked on each day. Many people find that crossing out or ticking what you have completed helps gives you a sense of success and overall achievement.
  • Review your plan. Identify what worked and what you need to change.
  • It might also be helpful to include a virtual study group with your friends in your study routine.

Tips and Techniques to Improve Wellbeing

Our sense of wellbeing can be improved by taking some time to reflect on some of the following:

Positive Emotion:

  • What positive/healthy experiences can I plan to do today (e.g. reading, music, food, games, exercise, meditation, learning etc.)
  • What can I be grateful for today? (I am grateful for …. list 3 things)
  • What small act of kindness can I do for someone else today?
  • How can I help myself to take a moment of calm?

Engagement:

  • What gives me enjoyment and makes me laugh?
  • How can I use one or more of my strengths today?
  • Who can I connect with today (over the telephone, online, in reality)?
  • In what way can I make a small positive difference to someone else?
  • How can I show interest in another person or their work/hobbies?

Meaning:

  • What goals can I set for today?

Accomplishment:

  • What goals no matter how small can I achieve today?
  • What challenge can I take on today?
  • What will I do?

See Also:

15 Mar 2021
Proposed return of 5th year students
17 Mar 2021
Lá Fhéile Pádraig
29 Mar 2021
Easter break
28-Feb-2021
Advice issued by the Department of Education & Skills (DES)
26-Feb-2021
A letter from Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn to parents & guardians on the reopening of schools 1 March 2021
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