Five reasons why reading is good for your health

I am a complete book worm. I love reading, delving into new worlds, learning new things and improving my vocabulary. In my opinion, you should too! Here are some reasons why…

In my first years of studying I took an English course to improve my language skills. It was a nice surprise then, when I found out two of the books we had to read were already on my own ‘to read’ list! I thought this was wonderful because not only was I able to study and understand the language of these books, but got to enjoy the course in many more ways. It didn’t feel like work, which is always the dream!

So, what are the benefits of reading, and can I convince more of you to do it?

  • Reading reduces stress

I have a rule that every night I do my best to read a few chapters before going to bed. Since doing so I have had much longer and deeper sleep and find I am more productive throughout the day.  Reading helps you forget your worries as you focus on the story. After a few chapters, things will seem much less stressful than they did before. The article linked below adds more to the case.

 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html

  • You will learn new things

I have just finished reading Deborah Harkness’ vampire trilogy and could not believe how many facts and so much history one author packed into such them! It’s amazing what you can discover when you pick up a book and start reading. You could even find an interest in something you’d never heard of before.

  • Your memory will improve

One of the best things about reading is it can improve your memory no matter what your age. It has also been linked to longevity, helping to prevent Alzheimer’s and just keeping your memory sharper than it would be without. So why wouldn’t you want to read? The link below has more about this.

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/risk-factors-and-prevention/how-reduce-your-risk-dementia 

  • It can fuel your creativity

Sometimes you can feel like you’ve hit a brick wall with a particular essay. This may mean you need a break, but rather than watching some TV, I find that picking up a book unrelated to your course can give your mind a better chance to relax and think more clearly. It’s a great way to press pause and will often help us to go back and break that wall.

  • You’ll find your focus improving

Ever been sat on the sofa or propped up in bed with a good book, glanced over at the clock and realised a few hours have passed since you sat down? Well that is a sure sign your focus is working and a great indication that you’re relaxing too. When reading you are focusing on all the words, the story, turning pages and thinking ahead, which is a lot of multitasking, meaning your focus is automatically improved!

The next time you’re undecided whether to pick something off the shelf to read, then, I recommend you don’t hesitate!

 

 

The celebrated explorer, navigator and cartographer James Cook was born on October 27th, 1728 in the village of Marton, near Middlesbrough. He was from a large farming family, and helped out at home until he was 16. He then took an apprenticeship with a shopkeeper, but never settled, and soon swapped to another apprenticeship, this time working on coal ships. James loved the work, and in 1752 he passed the exams which would eventually enable him to help command a ship.

The Mariner’s Museum records how Cook, “…completed his three-year apprenticeship in April 1750, then went on to volunteer for the Royal Navy. He would soon have the opportunity to explore and learn more about seafaring. He was assigned to serve on the HMS Eagle where he was quickly promoted to the position of captain’s mate due to his experience and skills. In 1757, he was transferred to the Pembroke and sent to Nova Scotia, Canada, to fight in the Seven Years’ War.” During this war, Cook’s skills as a surveyor and cartographer were put to great use and led him to plan many attacks.

In 1760, Cook helped map the entire coast of Newfoundland. Once again, his exceptional mapping skills brought him attention, particularly that of the Royal Society and Admiralty, who would use his maps for voyages for the next 200 years.

On 30th July, 1768, Cook set off on his first great expedition, aboard the Endeavour, with a crew of 84. Amongst them were several scientists, their mission being to record the journey on new maps and explore as many unknown lands as possible.

In 1769 the Endeavour reached South America. Proceeding further, the crew set up a research base in Tahiti, which they named Fort Venus. One of Cook’s most renowned achievements occurred on June 3rd that year, when the transit of that planet was observed and recorded.

They left Tahiti in August, and sailed blindly for several weeks. It wasn’t until October 6th that land was sighted again, when Endeavour reached the country we now know as New Zealand. Cook named its first feature Poverty Bay. On all his travels, Cook tried to mix with the local populations and collect plant and animal life. In Poverty Bay, however, the native population was unfriendly, so he decided to sail south along the coast. As he did so, Cook noted many of the separate islands that cluster around New Zealand, and he named most; from Bare Island to Cape Turnagain. When the Endeavour turned around to reface the northernmost tip of the island, Cook realised that New Zealand itself was made up of two large separate islands.

In April 1770, Cook spotted the coastline of Australia. He landed in Botany Bay near modern day Sydney, before exploring the area. Then began the long journey back to England, via Batavia in Indonesia, before they finally returned to London in July 1771. A full chart of this first expedition is pictured above.

In 1772, Cook was promoted to full Captain and given command of two ships, the Resolution and Adventure, tasked to look for the Southern Continent. His explorations continued until he was 50, when his interest in the lives of native populations led to his downfall.

Captain Cook’s final voyage took place on board the HMS Resolution, and now he became the first sailor to land a ship on the Hawaiian Islands. This visit was initially successful, and Cook left the island with much information, before heading to America. A few months later he returned to Hawaii – but he’d outstayed his welcome. The local population had tired of him interfering in their way of life and at Kealakekua Bay, while trying to negotiate repairs to his boats, on 14th February, 1779, a fight broke out and he was killed.

James Cook is the first British ship commander to circumnavigate the globe in a lone ship. He is also the first British commander to prevent the outbreak of scurvy by regulating his crew’s diet, by serving them citrus fruit. He charted many regions and recorded many European islands and coastlines for the first time. Cook also provided new information about the Pacific Ocean and its islands. Further, he met with and recorded information about their various peoples. Again, none were previously known at the time.

While his methods would be seen as intrusive today, Cook was a man of his time, and his skill at surveying unexplored lands and seas can’t be denied. The long term importance of Captain Cook’s discoveries, coupled with his fearlessness to do so, have meant that we continue to commemorate his achievements today. A NASA space shuttle is even named Endeavour, after his first ship.

On October 23rd, 1642, on fields between the town of Kineton and the village of Radway, Warwickshire, the first battle of the English Civil War was fought. As the fighting took place in the shadow of the Edgehill escarpment, it became known as the Battle of Edgehill.

Although this was the first battle of the war, the Crown had been in a state of war against Parliament since the 22nd of August that year. King Charles was in conflict with his Parliament because he believed in the Divine Right of Kings; that the monarch should be able to rule however he liked. Charles was particularly insistent that he should be able to raise money for foreign wars as often, and in whatever way, he saw fit. Conversely, Parliament believed they were entitled to a say in the rule of England, and that they had the right to approve or deny funds to the crown without consulting the king.

It was when, in October 1642, as the king’s army headed for London, they met with Parliament’s forces coming in the opposite direction (from Worcester) and blocked the Royalists route to the capital, that physical battle became inevitable. The Parliamentarian force, of approximately 12,500 men, was led by Robert Devereux, Third Earl of Essex (known as the Captain General). King Charles was represented by Patrick Ruthven, the Earl of Forth, from Scotland. He had 13,500 men to his company. Beginning with an exchange of cannon fire at two o’clock in the afternoon, the battle entered into its first active combat situation at three o’clock. As the light faded, only three hours later, the fighting broke off, only to resume again in occasional bouts over the next two days. It ended on the Tuesday, when the Earl of Forth’s men attacked the Parliamentarian baggage train in Kineton.

The battle, which had involved both cavalry and infantry engagements, ended in a stalemate, with between 1,000 and 1500 men dead and over 3000 injured; many of whom later died from their wounds. Although neither side had gained the upper hand, King Charles declared Edgehill a victory for his side, as his troops had opened the road to London, which the Parliamentarians had previously been barring.

Only a few weeks later however, the Earl of Essex had taken control of London, and the Civil War began in earnest. The Battle of Edgehill was the beginning of a war which would see mass disruption to the whole of England, and would not end until King Charles I was captured in 1646. Charles was then executed, sending England into the status of republic for the next 11 years as a under the rule of the victorious Oliver Cromwell.

Imagine if everything you had ever been told was wrong. We are told ‘facts’ and stories all our lives – but how can we know what we are being told is right?

When my daughter first started trying to convince me to home educate her, I countered her arguments ‘for’ with arguments ‘against’ that I had learned from other people: “You need to go to school to socialise with children your age;” “You are better off getting help from a teacher face-to-face;” “You need your peers at school to help you problem-solve”.

The problem was that each response I gave always came with a niggling doubt, mainly because I knew that my years spent studying at home with the Open University were far better and more rewarding than the years I spent studying for my degree with a bricks and mortar ‘traditional’ university. Added to that were my twelve years as a school governor (six as Chair) at a large primary school, where I felt the pushing for targets, associated paperwork and policies, all overshadowed the well-being of the children. I was also concerned that creativity and physical education were being pushed out by government targets and always had that same niggling doubt in my mind that ‘maybe this isn’t the best way’.

Further thought brought me to the realisation that for each ‘against’ I thought of, my brain seemed to automatically register a solution. I knew that socialisation wouldn’t be a problem; I have friends who home-educate and meet up regularly with other home-educating families. There are also numerous opportunities for voluntary work and I knew that if my daughter found some voluntary work in an area that interested her, she would be far more likely to meet like-minded friends with shared interests. The local riding stables are top of the list at the moment. Is she self-disciplined enough? Having watched her concentrate on her work, planning her days, and having her ask me relevant questions, I know the answer is yes. So long as the subject interests her, she will have no trouble completing the work. And that’s the beauty of home schooling – the children can choose the subjects that interest them.

My daughter has had an interest in video editing and IT for a long time – years – and I feel that they are something that she could make a successful career out of. Home-schooling, combined with some ‘unschooling’ (while she works on her video editing and IT) seemed like the ideal combination to give her a strong start in her working adult life.

And so our journey into home schooling has begun. It’s early days yet but the support so far from Oxford Home Learning has been impressive and I can honestly say that, as yet, I haven’t had any regrets in taking this path.

On 11th October 1982, King Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, was raised from the ocean bed after 437 years beneath the sea.

Originally due to join the English forces against the French on 19th July 1545, her campaign ended almost before it had begun. As she left Portsmouth harbour a freak gust of wind tilted her onto her side and she filled with water at a terrifying speed. Even though the ship had travelled less than a mile, only 30 of the 415 men on board survived. Trapped by the netting that had been put up to prevent the French from boarding the ship during battle, nearly everyone drowned, including the Vice Admiral, Sir George Carew and her captain Roger Grenville. King Henry VIII gave orders for the Mary Rose to be raised straight away, but all attempts failed. Another attempt was made to liberate her from the ocean in the nineteenth century, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that historians were successful in their quest.

In 1967 the Mary Rose Committee was formed. This group recognised the cultural, military and historic importance of the ship and it was decided to excavate the hull completely, to attempt to recover her for conservation and permanent display. In 1971, with very little money and a team of volunteers, the shipwreck excavation began; continuing until 1978.
Straight away the underwater archaeologists began to uncover information about Tudor life on the ship. They discovered the bow was preserved just as it had been in 1545 when it settled on the seabed, with artefacts, personal possessions and ship’s stores all intact. Far more was learned about the Tudor way of life once the ship was raised in 1982. The procedure, which was difficult and delicate, was achieved by attaching a vast metal cradle lined with air bags beneath the hull, which was slowly and gently raised to the surface. It was another 30 years however, before the timbers of the ship were preserved well enough to be displayed to the public.

The Mary Rose is a time capsule of Tudor life. The historian David Starkey referred to it as, “Britain’s Pompeii.” Not only can we learn about the ship’s construction, but we can gain a real insight into the daily lives of the sailors on board, but about the men themselves. Maritime archaeologist Alex Hildred explains, “…men and boys – whose ages range from 12 to 40 – were found on board… (giving) a really good glimpse of Tudor males at a moment in time… They were pretty well fed once they were on the ship – we know that from the diet. But there had been severe famines in the 1520s, so some of their bones have got evidence of vitamin deficiency, such as rickets or sometimes scurvy from the fact that they suffered as children. They’ve also got a lot of healed fractures – which is what you’d expect on a warship – a number of broken noses, one arrow wound and some arthritis. These guys were used to lifting heavy things.”

The Mary Rose also provides us with a perfect snapshot of the tools used by many of the tradesmen of the time; such as carpenters, cobblers and cooks. Nearly all of the items from the sailors’ working lives and their personal possessions, including gaming dice and other recreational activities, have been captured within the wreck.

The tragedy of the Mary Rose was a major blow for King Henry VIII’s war effort and the local population of Portsmouth. Today, however, it provides us with a window to the past, and a unique historical catalogue of Tudor life.

Millions of blood transfusions are performed in hospitals across the world every year. However, the origins of this now familiar and vital life saving procedure were, as with other medical developments through history, controversial.

Experimentation in blood exchange began in both England and France 350 years ago, but such was the outcry at the ‘ungodly’ acts taking place that the French parliament banned the research, and all medical exploration in the subject ground to a halt. It wasn’t until 25th September 1818 that English surgeon and obstetrician James Blundell, after years of working on dogs, was finally able to conduct the first human to human blood transfusion, at St Guy’s Hospital in London. This was a radical procedure at a time when the majority of medical professionals still tried to cure most complaints by draining blood from a patient rather than replacing it. That same year, Blundell published Experiments on the Transfusion of Blood by the Syringe in the journal Medico-Chirurgical Transactions. This paper discussed his experiences conducting whole blood transfusions in dogs and humans using a syringe. It opened his work to scrutiny and further experimentation across the medical world.

Blundell’s choice of career was influenced by his uncle, John Haighton, a leading medic at Guy’s Hospital. Blundell studied with his uncle in the field of obstetrics. While they studied all aspects of childbirth, he and his uncle designed many of the instruments we associate with delivering babies today. As he was working with women in labour, he saw a large number of birth time related blood haemorrhages. It was so common in fact, that Blundell, desperate to save more women during the childbirth procedure, took to transfusing four ounces of blood extracted from the woman’s husband, and injecting it into her with a syringe in the hope it would cleanse her blood should she be losing the battle to live during labour. The Science Museum reports that Blundell “… performed a further ten transfusions between 1825 and 1830 and published details of them. Half were successful. Blundell limited the use of his transfusion apparatus to women on the verge of death due to uterine haemorrhage, the heavy bleeding that can result from a difficult labour. Blundell believed blood had a nutritive property and was infused with vitalism – a living force.”

Blundell’s work was a major breakthrough in medical science, but it still wasn’t until 1900, when Karl Landsteiner discovered blood groups, and worked out why certain bloods were incompatible with each other, that transfusions could start to become the successful cure they are today.

Blundell and the many scientists that followed in his wake continuing to develop transfusion techniques, are unlikely to have imagined what a massive impact their work has had on the modern world. Thanks to their dedication, by the twentieth century scientists in New York were developing the first blood banks. They were to become vital in keeping many injured soldiers alive during the two world wars, as well as other conflicts.

Even though it is two hundred years since James Blundell first ran blood from one human to another, the equipment he designed is still recognisable in operating theatres and transfusion kits used across the world today.

Edgar Allan Poe is credited with being the very first author to try and make a living from his writing alone.

Born on 19th January, 1809 in Boston, USA, Edgar was the son of two actors. They both died before he was three years old, so he was raised by his godfather, John Allan. Poe was taken from Richmond in America to Scotland and England (1815–20) to receive a classical education. This education continued back in America, where he attended the University of Virginia. Unfortunately, once there Poe became a gambler and an alcoholic. His godfather was furious with him for running up huge debts, and refused to continue to fund his gambling losses at the university. Poe returned to Richmond and began to write the poetry for which he has become famous.

The Academy of American Poets states that “Poe’s work as an editor, a poet, and a critic had a profound impact on American and international literature…. Many anthologies credit him as the “architect” of the modern short story.”

In 1827, like so many modern authors, Poe self-published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, but Poe’s life remained troubled, and he was struggling with poverty. His dire circumstances forced him to join the army, under the name Edgar A. Perry. He stayed in the army until his foster mother died. Then, in an attempt to improve Poe’s prospects, John Allan purchased his release from the army and helped him get an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

During his time in the services Poe continued to write. In 1829 he published Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. He hated military service and deliberately got himself expelled before taking a job. His drinking and ill health meant he didn’t hold this down for long.

Poe’s only driving force was his need to write. Although his work didn’t bring him wealth in his lifetime, his legacy has been to provide us with some of the most influential pieces of literature ever produced. Influenced by the tragedies of his own life, including his poor health and the death of his wife, much of Poe’s best work is concerned with terror and sadness. A spokesman for the Poe Museum in Richmond, UA said “Most famously, Poe completely transformed the genre of the horror story with his masterful tales of psychological depth and insight not envisioned in the genre before his time and scarcely seen in it since.”

As well as his more recognised tales of horror, such as The Raven, in 1841 Poe wrote The Murders in the Rue Morgue. This was the very first published detective story; a literary innovation which earned him the nickname “Father of the Detective Story.” His concept of deductive reasoning and ratiocination inspired countless authors, most famous among them Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In 1843 Poe expanded his genre even further, when he wrote The Gold Bug, a suspense full of secret codes and hunting treasure. This won him a literary prize. Edgar Allan Poe died penniless after a lifetime of ill health on 7th October, 1849 in Maryland, USA. His gift to modern literature comes not only in the form of the excellence of his poetry and prose, but in how he highlighted the importance of stylistic focus and literary structure. His work marked the first time style and plot layout were publicly considered as much as the plot-line itself. By putting his work before his income, Poe became a forerunner of the French Symbolist movement, claiming that there should be an “art for art’s sake” movement and inspiring men such as Mallarmé and Rimbaud.

Today, Poe is remembered as one of world literature’s major historical figures. The Raven, amongst other works, is consistently cited as amongst the best of its genre, and he continues to influence modern day writers, television producers and film directors such as Stephen King and Neil Gaimen.

Born on 15th September 1890 in Torquay, Devon, Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (later to become Lady Mallowan, and a Dame) wrote a number of romance novels under the name Mary Westmacott, but it is her murder mysteries, particularly involving Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, for which she will always be remembered.

As The Independent newspaper once reported, Christie’s work is “…synonymous with the country house mystery, the landed gentry and Jazz Age good-time boys and girls whose ordered, privileged world is suddenly thrown into disarray by the fly in the ointment of a rather awkward corpse found in the library, or on the croquet lawn.”

If you ask her legions of fans why her work remains as popular today (famously including the long running theatre production of The Mousetrap in London, pictured above) as it was when first written between the 1920’s and 1960’s, you’ll get a variety of answers. For some it is the nostalgia of the work. Mark Aldridge, author of Agatha Christie on Screen, explains, “There’s a part of us that likes to see village greens and country houses, ships steaming up the Nile. Christie was a very visual writer and she was very well travelled and used a lot of exotic locations she had actually visited.” Though they depict a very British outlook and way of life, Christie’s novels have a cosmopolitan feel, probably inspired by her own life, which involved a great deal of travelling with her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan.

For others, the enjoyment comes from reading books for simple, pure entertainment. They are easy reads that provide a satisfying tale at the end of a busy day, with the guarantee of not being disappointed by the ending. For most, however, it’s about trying to solve the mysteries yourself, before the featured detective does. All the clues necessary are provided throughout the story, but very rarely are the solutions obvious. The crime genre dedicated website, CrimeReads.com, says of the writer, “… Agatha Christie was not interested in murder. She was interested in “English murder,” which is a different thing, relating to the human dynamic rather than the act of violence.”

This viewpoint is echoed throughout Christie’s work. She is often criticised for her murders being unrealistic and lacking in the blood and visceral imagery such acts often feature in more modern literature. However, she never actually claimed her work was believable herself, so it could be argued that renders such an opinion a mute point. They were written to provide fictional escapism. As CrimeReads.com states, “Why would anyone imagine that she intended these plots to be seen as credible events? They were “animated algebra,” a puzzle to be solved.”

While many esteemed writers have also objected (PD James, for one) to her “cardboard cut-out characters”, it can’t be denied that her work is loved, and will continue to be so. Almost every story she has written is now either a play, television show or film – and often all three. The 2017 film, Murder on the Orient Express, successfully delivered her work to a brand new audience, while even repeats of Poirot and Miss Marple on the television continue to rack up ratings almost as highly as when they were first aired ten to twenty years ago.

Today the novels of Agatha Christie are widely accepted to have been the original works that spawned the literary sub-genre “cosy crime.” They have inspired modern fiction, from Midsomer Murders to Death In Paradise and more. More than 4 million copies of her 66 detective novels, as well as her 14 short story collections, are purchased around the world every year. Agatha Christie’s legacy lives on.

The year 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first worldwide influenza pandemic. Known as Spanish Flu, this major outbreak claimed the lives of between 50 and 100 million people across the globe in 1918. The Guardian newspaper records that, “By the time the pandemic finally ended, it had killed around 25 times more people than any other flu outbreak in history. It killed possibly more people than the first and second world wars put together.”

Unlike the flu strains we recognise today, Spanish Flu was not claiming the lives of young children and the elderly as we’d expect, but was at its most virulent in healthy young adults. At a time when the First World War was  already claiming millions of men’s lives, it must have felt like the end of the world, and at its height, panic was rife.

Many myths and misconceptions have grown up around Spanish Flu. The biggest of all being that it had begun in Spain. This was not the case. As the epidemic raged against the backdrop of the First World War, the countries involved, Germany, Austria, France, the United Kingdom and the U.S, did not want morale worsened by either side believing that their own nation was the source of the flu. Consequently, and much to its annoyance, the neutral country of Spain was chosen to have the virus named after it and create the false impression they were bearing the brunt of the disease. In reality, the geographical starting point of the pandemic is still debated, with both East Asia and other parts of Europe more likely hosts.

As the virus spread very quickly, killing 25 million people in the first six months, it is understandable that many came to believe that Spanish Flu was a uniquely lethal strain. However, recent studies have suggested that it was only so virulent because of the conditions of the time. War meant that there was severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in many environments such as military camps. Poor living conditions led to bacterial pneumonia in the lungs being a relatively common condition amongst soldiers during the war years; once this has been contracted, the flu could get hold much faster. If the flu hadn’t had each an easy path to contagion, then it may have caused no more deaths than other epidemics.

As Richard Gunderman, the Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy at Indiana University, explained to The Conversation newsletter, “During the first half of 1918, new studies reveal that the death rate was relatively low. It was in late October and November of 1918 and early 1919 that higher death rates occurred, when people with flu symptoms began to crowd into hospitals in panic, and thus spread the disease further.”

In 2008, researchers announced that they had successfully determined the gene sequence of Spanish Flu. This was possible because one of the flu’s original victims, British diplomat Mark Sykes, was disinterred from his lead-lined coffin so that researchers could study his remains. The Guardian reports that, “The purpose was to enable researchers to take samples, from his remains, of the H1N1 virus strain that caused the Spanish flu. Such samples, now under high-security lock and key in Atlanta, have been examined for clues as to why this strain was so potent and how a future pandemic might be contained.”

Every few decades a new flu epidemic occurs. Scientists believe that the next pandemic will happen sooner rather than later, and that the more we can learn from the 1918 outbreak, the more prepared we will be.

We understand that waiting to find out your exam results can be an extremely nerve-wracking experience. It is important to know that feeling some kind of stress is a completely natural reaction. But, if it becomes persistent, if it never gives you a moment’s peace, it is important to take action to stop those nerves from affecting your health and well-being.

Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at Priory Group has looked at ways you can reduce your stress to prevent it from affecting your physical and mental health. Some of her suggestions are as below.

It’s Good to Talk

There will always be someone you can talk to when you feel worried about your exam results or your future. Whether it is a parent, carer or friend, you should discuss your thoughts and emotions with them when you feel troubled. A parent might be able to help you challenge your worries by providing you with evidence that your thoughts are not a balanced view. For example, they will be able to reassure you about how much revision you did and how well you have performed in past exams.

You may want someone to lend an ear or distract you with a quick chat or offer of advice. By taking the time to access this emotional support, you have the opportunity to let off steam and is so doing prevent your feelings from boiling over. There are also supportive charities like Child Line and the Samaritans who can be contacted anonymously over the phone or through web chat.

Breathe Deeply

When you get anxious, your “fight or flight” response kicks in, where your body releases adrenaline and increases your heart rate. Breathing deeply can help your body to settle down to a more natural state. Imagine, then, blowing into a balloon: As you take a deep breath in, notice your stomach rising as you allow your lungs to take in the maximum amount of air. Then slowly breathe out imagining you are filling the balloon with air. Try and do this three times.

Keep Yourself Busy

Try and ensure you have structure and activities each day. For example, give yourself a project to complete over the summer, look at voluntary or part-time work, organise social activities with your friends and help out at home. If you keep yourself busy, you have less time to sit and dwell on your thoughts. You will also feel better about yourself as you have been able to achieve something.

Getting Good Quality Sleep

We understand that getting a good night’s sleep may seem impossible because of your nerves, but it is important to try your hardest to get into a good routine. Go to bed and wake up at similar times every day, and make your bedroom a relaxing space, with any screens turned off at least an hour before bedtime. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the hours before bedtime and try to fit in at least twenty minutes of exercise each day – but again, not too close to bedtime.

Form a Plan for Results Day

Think about all the possible outcomes on results day, and jot them down. Then, write a potential plan for each one. For example, if you were to get your expected grades, what happens; If you get lower than expected, what would your next steps be?

This can help you to recognise that there are options and a future for you, regardless of what happens. It can stop yourself from worrying about the unknown, because it means you have a plan for every scenario.

Tackle Your Negative Thoughts

It is easy to gravitate towards the worst case scenario when you’re feeling anxious. Do you believe you failed your exam spectacularly? Do you think you’re going to get terrible grades across the board? There are steps you can take to question and alter these thoughts:

  • At the end of each day, jot down any moments when you felt like this. Write down what you thought at the time.
  • Next, write down the evidence you have contradicting that negative thought. What goes against it? For example, if you thought, “I’m going to fail everything,” think about the hours of revision and preparation you put in for your exams.

Then, write down a healthier way of thinking about the situation. For example, instead of thinking that you’ve failed an exam, you may want to think, “I know it was tough, but I worked so hard that I know I tried it my best. I’m proud of the work I put in.”

Completing this activity at the end of every day will stop you from focusing on potential negative outcomes during this stressful time.

Getting Support

If your stress levels don’t seem to be getting any better, you should visit your GP. They will be able to provide you with the right support you may need at this time.

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