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Overcoming That Sixth Year Slump

Overcoming That Sixth Year Slump

Sophie Coffey

The Leaving Cert can be an incredibly stressful period and overcoming that sixth year slump is tough.

Usually at this point in the year a Leaving Cert student’s vocabulary begins to resemble a bizarre combination of CAO points, the Modh Conniolach, and sonnets of love directed to caffeine.

This year, however, you also have an added alphabet of Covid-19 terms and their accompanying stresses.

Staying focussed, motivated and sane is a tough task for every sixth year but as members of the class of 2022 it is natural for it to be even harder this time around.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic wand that will solve your maths equations or this situation but I do have some small but practical tips to help you manage those sixth year slumps.

Be smart with your Sundays

With many weekends revolving around revision, a sixth year’s days off are not quite as relaxing as they once were. Burnout is a very real possibility at this point in the year but giving yourself a chance to recharge ahead of the Monday madness will put you in the best position for the incoming week.

You might not feel that you can take a full day off, but I highly recommend setting a cut off time for academic activities on a Sunday. This may mean not touching a textbook after 4pm or doing all of your homework on a Saturday.

Look to the future

We seem to spend so much of our time now looking towards either the past or the future. This is not always a good thing, but you can use the optimism of the future to encourage you through those motivation slumps. Whether it is a dream college course, training programme or career path, using your hope for the future can be a great motivation tool.

Don’t sacrifice safe socialising

Our social lives are usually forced to slow down and take something of a backseat in sixth year. This year our social lives are so far in the rearview window we can barely see them! As it result it can be harder to strike a balance between work and leisure, but it is a balance well worth managing.

Public health guidelines must inform all of our actions meaning that video calls or social media interactions will continue to make up a large proportion of our socialising for the moment. Utilising these methods of communication will break up the monotony of sixth year study.

Give yourself a break (or many!)

A break is not really a break if it’s just a period of procrastination while you scroll through Instagram and panic about your workload. Take designated and regular breaks and you will be grateful for it. You don’t have to feel guilty for taking a break or being less productive. Giving yourself a temporary reprieve will often make your productive periods even more beneficial.

Fuel your brain and your body

Studying is hungry work so try to eat nutritious meals. Aim for foods high in nutrients such as protein, vitamins and omega 3. Tempting though it is to continuously chug highly caffeinated drinks, don’t forget to drink plenty of water too. And because balance is one of my key tips in this article be sure to treat yourself with sweeter foods and snacks too!

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Avoid comparisons

Some people will be full of motivation and energy on Monday but hit a wall on Wednesday. Other students work best in the morning but struggle to concentrate after lunch. Everyone works at a different pace and in a different way. Avoiding academic comparisons is not just reserved for your grades.

Keep in mind that all students will require breaks or encouragement at unique times. So next time it feels like you are the only one struggling to stay on top of things… you are absolutely not alone!

The Leaving Cert does not define you

For all the headlines that will colloquially refer to you as ‘Leaving Certs’ you are more than the exam you are scheduled to sit. You are a human being who just so happens to have the misfortune of sitting an exam during a global pandemic.

Regardless of sensationalist headlines or panicking group chats try to maintain that tricky sense of perspective.

Reach out

If you are finding overcoming that sixth year slump particularly tough we have compiled a list of mental health supports for Leaving Cert and students to help you during these difficult times.

How are you overcoming that sixth year slump?

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