Advice Forum: Year 12 Exhaustion

Photograph by Catarina Inacio

Hi Tigress Mag,

I’m currently a year 12 student and I’d love to know if you have any advice for getting through the remainder of the year? My energy seems to have been all used up and I’m exhausted. I know there’s only about 12 weeks till exams but I don’t know if I’ve got the energy to make it.

I’m sorry to hear you are having a hard time with the end of year 12. It is a really big thing you’re doing and I just want to acknowledge that first and foremost, as I don’t think schools acknowledge enough how hard and draining year 12 is! Year 12 is stressful in a pretty unique way, unlike the stressors we face as adults after school. It’s a huge accomplishment to even be so far into the year, so well done!

The advice I have comes from my personal experience of dealing with busy periods of life. When I have many projects that need completion, as well as working my day job, I can get extremely run down and often feel sick, tired, and depressed. Winter is especially hard as most people lack vitamin D and this makes you very tired.

Advice piece number 1:

My first piece of advice is to go easy on yourself. Obviously you need to keep up with the work and studying, but be kind to yourself; don’t beat yourself up if you’re not working as hard as you would like. We all think we can accomplish so much in a day but rarely do we get everything done. My mum always says to write yourself a list with the most important thing at the top of the list and then, even if you only get one thing done that day, it’ll be the most important one.

Advice piece number 2:

Speaking of lists, lists can be very helpful at a time like this. I love lists because it really highlights what needs to be done, and often it can be less than you have imagined in your head. Plus it makes tasks feel a lot more manageable when you write them down!! Write yourself a list for each day and it will help you feel less overwhelmed. Again, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get EVERYTHING done on the list, this is normal–keep your daily goals realistic. And try to add a thing or two to treat yourself, such as a rest/nap, 30 minutes to read, etc.

Advice Piece number 3:

I want to talk about food. It is SO hard to keep on top of health when you’re busy. Coffee, sugar, and fast food meals seem to be the most convenient way to eat while studying, but this will make you much more tired and unable to concentrate, so it backfires. Having snacks on hand is crucial. Give yourself some high-protein brain foods, like free range, organic meat (so you get no nasty chemicals that can aggravate your system), eggs (packed full of vitamin D), cheese (my faves are feta, goat cheese, and ricotta), or nuts. Protein for vegans and vegetarians, on the other hand, come in many forms, such as quinoa, leafy green veggies, and lentils (delicious dahl, anyone?). Fruit is a great way to curb sugar cravings, though they won’t sustain you for long. And wholegrain bread is great for those who are craving carbs.

But also, don’t beat yourself up if you do have some treats or have an unhealthy day (or two!)

If you are in a place to purchase some vitamins this can be great as well. Vitamin B (particularly B6 for girls), Vitamin C, Fish Oil  and Vitamin D can really help you focus in stressful times.

Advice Piece Number 4:

Sleep and exercise are your best friends at this time. Getting enough sleep is so important, but also keeping active and moving is key. Try to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep each night. I know it seems cliche, but it really does help. Teenagers need the most sleep of all people (second to infant babies), so you need to take care of your teenage body. The occasional sleep-in is great; don’t give yourself a hard time if you really need the rest. This is part of the process.

Keeping fit is also really important because this will stimulate your mind. Do cardio like jogging or swimming, but also relaxing exercise that will help your mind to not panic. Yoga is amazing as it also involves some meditation.

Don’t try to do everything right now. If that means not seeing your friends as much for a few weeks, that’s ok. Don’t feel like you have to go to every party, gathering, or date. Just explain that you’re focusing on finish year 12 and a true friend will understand this. But also give yourself some social time if that will make you happy and relieve stress!

Advice Piece Number 5:

Don’t be afraid to lean on friends, family, or teachers who offer support. If you have someone in your life who can be your support person during this time, don’t be afraid to ask them for help. I personally love to help people and be there for them when they need. We’re often too afraid to ask, but once we do, certain people really step up.

I hope this helps you in some way. Take care of and be kind to yourself. If you need to become a hermit, do that; if you need to jog off your stress twice a day, do that. There is no one right way to deal with the situation; let yourself be weird and wacky and don’t judge yourself. And remember, even in those moments when it feels like it will never end, this too shall pass! We promise!

Lots of love,

Freya & Sophie


Catarina Inácio

Catarina Inácio is a photographer from Portgual. About her work, Catarina says:

“My dream is to become a great photographer. I want to show my feelings with photography, and create new stories based in my daily life. And I’m proud of my evolution in photography. I live with my issues and insecurities, and sometimes it’s hard to communicate and smile to life, although I know that I can’t give up, and I have to keep doing what makes me happy and live everyday with patience and calm. Photography is one of my forms of therapy, it is what makes me happy and it is what makes me feel free.” See her work on Flickr.

Sophie Pellegrini

Sophie Pellegrini is the Co-Founder and Artistic & Creative Director of Ramona Magazine for Girls. She is a 25-year-old photographer and wilderness therapy field guide in Colorado. She loves crafting, playing acoustic guitar, 90s music, the smell of summer, making lists, a good nap, cuddly animals, and the cold side of the pillow. Follow Sophie on her website and on Instagram.

Freya Bennett

Freya Bennett is the Co-Founder and Director of Ramona Magazine for Girls. She is a writer and illustrator from Melbourne, Australia who has a passion for youth rights and mental health. To combat her own battle with anxiety and hypochondria, you can find Freya boxing, practicing yoga, taking sertraline and swimming in the ocean. She believes in opening up about her mental health struggles and shining a light on what is not spoken about. Freya welcomed her first daughter, Aurora into the world on the 21st of November, 2017 and spends her days building blocks, reading stories and completely exhausted. With a passion for grassroots activism and creative community, Freya began Ramona Magazine as an alternative to boring, image-obsessed teen media. The magazine is founded upon Freya’s core values of creative expression, equality and kindness. You can follow her on Instagram @thecinnamonsociety

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