- What are your best tips to keep healthy during exam periods?
During exam time it can be easy to fall into bad habits where chocolate and lollies tend to find themselves sitting on the desk. We also get caught up in how much time we have to study and thinking about spending the day at the desk, often procrastinating… (something I knew far too well in year 12). The best way to be prepared and stay active is to plan breaks, prepare meals and not feel guilty for not spending 9 hours at the desk! You will be far more productive if you spend an hour to an hour and a half of working hard, then allowing yourself a short break to move around and refresh your mind.
If you’ve scheduled a workout in, plan to do it before you hit the books or give yourself an hour in the middle of the day to get moving. If you leave it until the end of the day, chances are you’ll ditch the workout!
Plan and prepare your meals before you start studying so you aren’t tempted to quickly run out and get some take away, or even skip your meals. You’ll need some good, healthy fuel to keep your brain ticking. Instead of having unhealthy snacks next to you, fill up a small bowl of mixed nuts and keep some fruit on hand.
- What’s the most common injury you treat when people are studying for exams?
The most common injuries I see during exam period, and in student/desk workers in general, are upper back and neck strains that sometimes lead to headaches. This is because we tend to slouch into the computer and spend hours on end in this position. This creates added stress on the neck and shoulder, which can cause headaches.
- Do you have any tips to avoid these types of injuries?
The best way to avoid these injuries is to take a break from the desk every hour, even if it is just to get a glass of water or go to the toilet and get your body moving. Ensure you have a good desk setup so that you’re allowing the centre of gravity to pass through the correct areas on the body to reduce the stress placed on the joints, muscles, ligaments and surrounding structures.
Also, make sure you allow yourself some time to stretch your neck, chest and back muscles to reduce the tension in some of those tight muscles.
- What advice would you give the Year 12 version of yourself?
Throughout high school, I suffered from many headaches as well as upper back and neck discomfort, most of which were a result of poor posture and studying ergonomics (funnily, the most common condition that walks into my treatment room now). I would make sure I had a good desk setup, moved my body more during these more intense study periods, and finish the day with a good stretching session. I should have also seen my osteopath more than I did!
I would tell my year 12 self to look after myself more during these more stressful periods and not to feel guilty if I wanted to go for a short walk or even a coffee with a friend. After all, these short breaks away from the desk will make you so much more productive when you return to studying, and it’s also great for your mental health.
There is so much pressure put on students to do well in year 12, but if you organise your time well and keep active and healthy during this study period, then the results will follow. At the end of the day, if you don’t achieve the results you were hoping for, there is always a way to get around it. Don’t expect to know what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re 18 years old, there is plenty of time to figure that out later on. Take the pressure off yourself!!