So you got your exam results…

It’s Leaving Cert results day in Ireland today. By now, the students have their results. Some will be delighted, others will be devastated. The media will celebrate those who received ‘top marks’, they’ll churn out statistics – almost a third of students sat the higher level maths paper and 90% of those received bonus points for scoring over 40% in their exam.

It’s easy to make a Very Big Deal out of these results; many students have worked hard, they have achieved the grades they hoped for and that’s great. However, there are others who worked just as hard and didn’t see it come to fruition. Of course, it’s also all subjective – one student could see 300 points as being fantastic while another sees that as a failure.

On days like to day it’s so important to stay grounded. There are so many options and opportunities out there. Not everyone is made for college. Some people will go straight to work or an apprenticeship, some might take some time out to figure out what they want to do and that’s perfectly okay.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind today:

  • If you didn’t get the results you had hoped for don’t panic! There are so many PLC courses that only take one year and can be used as an entry path to a degree the following year if you still want to go down that route. Level 5 courses get a bad rep but I think they’re brilliant – you get to find out if what you had planned on studying is really right for you without the massive financial burden and time commitment of a degree. Saving money and having more free time – what’s bad about that?!

 

  • Will these results really matter in fifty years? It’s unlikely! I can’t even begin to tell you the number of people I know who didn’t get the results or the course they had initially hoped for but who are still happy and successful at what they do. If in doubt, take a look at some famous people who either left school early or never graduated college but who have still achieved so much: Ellen DeGeneres, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah, Lady GaGa, Tom Hanks, Coco Chanel, Steve Jobs and more!

 

  • While it’s worth recognising that these results are the culmination of many years of hard work for a lot of people, it’s still important to remember that they don’t have to define the rest of your life.Ultimately, it’s just a piece of paper with a bunch of letters and numbers on. It doesn’t represent who you are as a person. There are many qualities that are far more important than those results – being passionate about something, showing kindness to others, treating people with respect etc.

 

  • Lastly, go out and celebrate! No matter what results you got you should still celebrate the end of this chapter of your life and the beginning of a new one. Take some time out to relax, go out with friends, do something with your family, whatever celebrating means to you!

On a personal note, I didn’t even sit my Leaving Cert. I left school in 2009, four months in to sixth year. Since then I’ve earned three qualifications, been accepted on to a degree course, I’ve learned a ton of skills, met new people, seen some other countries, gotten a dog, created a blog & a whole lot more and guess what? None of that depended on having ‘good’ (or any!) Leaving Cert results!

If you need support today, contact the NCPpp Helpline for free on 1800265165 to speak to a qualified guidance counsellor or check out their website for more information and advice. Spunout.ie also has an education section that is FULL of really great posts, and I’d definitely recommend checking that out if you need some down to earth, practical and easy to follow advice.

As always, if you need any general advice and information click here.

5 ways I practice self-care

Note: There is a difference between self care and caring for yourself in crisis. Personally, self care is all the things I do when I’m well to help keep me that way. They’re particularly helpful when I am having a bad day, I’m in a bad mood, I’m tired, etc. They are not the same as care in times of crisis and should never replace that care. If you need medication and therapy to help you cope with a mental health/emotional difficulty you should absolutely continue with those.

Last year ‘self-care’ became a bit of a buzzword, almost a trend but that doesn’t mean it should be brushed aside as something trivial. Looking after yourself is important so here are five ways that I practice self-care…
1. Reading – Firstly, I’m a nerd. I love to learn new things, it makes me happy. For some people active learning ends with school or college. For others it’s a lifelong persuit. I read to learn new things. I also read simply for pleasure, to escape in to a new world of live as someone else for a while! *An added benefit to reading is a book club and the community they bring either IRL or online – if you’re looking for an online group try the Rick O’Shea Book Club on Facebook, it’s full of lovely welcoming people who are always up for a chat and Rick hosts RSBC events around the country throughout the year too!
2. Spending time with loved ones – An hour spent watching Designated Survivor with my mam, a trip to Lidl with my dad for whatever gadget he’s spotted in the catalogue, meeting  a friend for a coffee and a catch up, going for dinner with my boyfriend. I can’t stress the  importance of this enough. To be surrounded by love & to give that back, to know that there are people who care about me and to spend time doing something I enjoy with people whose company I enjoy is so cathartic.
3. Spending time alone – On the flipside, I need time alone. As much as I love being with those I love, I also need time to recharge by myself. I’ve mentioned before that I am introverted and I think this would be the case even if I didn’t have social anxiety disorder. I need time to do nothing and I try to make sure that I get that time!
4. Having a bath – My favourite way to relax! Sometimes I combine this with 1 and read while I’m in there! No distractions, just chilling out. I like my water a little too hot, my bubbles mountainous and my fingers and toes resembling prunes by the time I get out! Bonus points if someone else thinks to run a bath for me or gifts me any kind of bath products. A million things from Lush are on my wish list, along with a bath tray!
5. Cuddles with my dog – For several years we had a revolving door of strays that my sister would bring home for a few weeks until a new home was found. Once my sister moved out the dogs stopped and I spent years trying to convince my parents to let me have one of my own. It took until I was 19 but they eventually caved! We went to Dogs Trust where there were loads of beautiful dogs looking for forever homes.

The dog we came home with is a Collie crossed with, well, something? He’s been an absolute joy. He never fails to put a smile on my face with his antics. He’s cheeky, he likes his comfort and he rests his head in my lap when he wants something. He’s perfect. 

Meet Dobby.

stepphhsays-dobby

Why do you do to look after yourself? Share your tips, you might help someone out!

Mental Health & Illness Charities/Support – Ireland & UK

Need help? Want more information?

The following are Irish Mental Health or Illness charities/support services.

Don’t be afraid to contact someone or do some research – it’s why they’re there.

IRELAND

Mental Health Ireland – ‘MHI’s aim is to promote positive mental health and wellbeing to all individuals and communities in Ireland.’ A fantastic site for information, MHI even provide training to the public. MHI have Mental Health Associations around the country that you can contact for info or volunteer with.

Aware – ‘Aware undertakes to create a society where people affected by stress, depression, bipolar and mood disorders are understood, supported, free from stigma, and are encouraged to access appropriate therapies.’ Aware’s services include Support Mail, Support Groups & Support Line as well as online courses, group education and school based courses. All of these services are free.

Samaritans – ‘We offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you. You don’t have to be suicidal.’  Samaritans offers a phone support line for anyone who needs to talk. This a non judgmental space, the volunteer you speak to won’t impose their beliefs on you and they’re available every day, no matter the time.

Jigsaw – ‘The National Centre for Youth Mental Health. There to ensure that no young person (age 12-25) feels alone, isolated and disconnected from others around them’ Jigsaw has ‘hubs’ or drop in centres around the country. Here, young people can access support from trained staff, short term counselling, advice and information about other support services that may be of help to them. To find your local centre click the link!

Your Mental Health – ‘YourMentalHealth.ie is a place to learn about mental health in Ireland, and how to support yourself and the people you love.’ This HSE website provides a list of services, real life stories and a wealth of information. Your Mental Health are the folks behind the prominent #littlethings campaign.

See Change – ‘See Change is Ireland’s national programme working to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland…working to create a disruptive, community driven social movement to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems.’ See Change brings together 70+ organisations to work towards a common goal. On the site you’ll find sections the Green Ribbon Campaign, blogs from See Change Ambassadors and Mental Health in the workplace and lots more.

Pieta House – ‘We support people and communities in crisis by providing freely accessible, professional services to all.’ Pieta House have 12 centres around the country where service users can access support for issues around suicide and self harm. A doctor referral is not needed and the service is free. There is also a Freephone helpline and text service available. Pieta House are the folks behind ‘Darkness Into Light’ one of Ireland’s biggest mental health fundraisers that takes place every year.

A Lust For Life ‘A Lust For Life is…an Irish wellbeing movement created to transform how we talk about and treat mental health.’ ALFL aims to get us talking about our mental health and encourages mental fitness. This site is great for tips, articles and research around both mental and physical health. ALFL along with Pieta House are the folks behind #SoundEffect & The Little Book Of Sound.

UK

Centre For Mental Health – ‘We change the lives of people with mental health problems by using research to bring about better services and fairer policies.’  A fantastic site for information.

Mental Health Foundation – ‘Dedicated to finding and addressing the sources of mental health problems.’  Lots of information presented in a very user friendly way, clear guides and explanations.

Together‘We believe that people experiencing mental distress can direct their own journey towards improved mental health and to living independent, fulfilling lives. Our role is to give people the tools and the support to achieve this.’ Here you’ll find community, acommodation and criminal justice support along with along with research & guides.

Rethink Mental Illness – ‘We believe a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.’ Rethink can provide accredited advice & information to anyone affected by mental health problems. They also provide support groups and services and they campaign nationally for policy change.

Mind – ‘We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.’ Mind campaign to raise awareness, promote understanding and improve services. They also provide advice and support to anyone who needs it.