It's time for you to chill out

It's time for you to chill out

Pack up your study books - along with your troubles - and sleep, meditate and get happy

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Photo: Simon Song/SCMP
Those all-important exams will soon be - or maybe already be - over. It's been a very stressful time for many students in Hong Kong as they give their all to gain that vital extra mark that can mean the difference to their future.

Yet now you've got time to take care of yourselves: you certainly need to. Ongoing stress has long-term effects on our health - mentally, emotionally and physically. These holidays are short, and the lack of decent sunshine and enforced time indoors with family make it even harder to chill before returning to school. So here's how:

Physically

Many HK teens say sleeping is their favourite way to spend spare time. But resist diving into bed as soon as you get home from your last exam. When you sleep, you deprive your body of oxygen and endorphins - brain chemicals that transmit electrical signals, including feelings of happiness - which make you feel instantly better.

Instead of going straight to bed, go for a brisk walk; even 20 minutes will help. If you can't get your friends or family to join you, take your iPod with some great (happy) music for company. If you enjoy jogging, even better. If you live on an estate with a pool, get swimming. Anything that gets blood pumping through your muscles, and endorphins flowing, will be a good start.

When you get home, have a shower, or, if you are lucky enough to have a tub, a long bath. Using special bath gels will allow you to feel pampered.

Don't just go straight to sleep. As you doze off, think about things in your life that make you feel thankful. This will help to lift your spirits and improve your mood. Switch off your phone and computer, too, so you get the full eight hours' rest. You can't do that if you're texting all night.

Mentally

It is normal to worry about your exam results. Your parents might be worried, too; your friends certainly will be. With everyone so wound up, you might find yourself arguing with friends or family more than ever.

The best thing to do is walk away. Don't get dragged into other people's stress and say things that will be hurtful to them. When you see things getting out of control, take yourself away. Some people, if they're sad or stressed, like to annoy those around them and argue. It makes them feel powerful. Avoid them.

Emotionally

Listen to the way you talk to yourself. Do you call yourself stupid, slow, ugly, not good enough? Is the one thought that keeps running through your head that the exams are "make or break"?

If you take a step back and think of yourself as a friend, would you like to spend time in your own company? If a friend said that you were worthless, how long would you stay friends? Would you tell your friend they're ugly? No, of course not. It hurts them. So don't do it to yourself. If your friend does poorly in the exams, you'd comfort and encourage them. So do that to yourself, too.

One final thought. If you've finished your exams, they are over. So stop worrying. One easy way to avoid spending time worrying is through simple meditation. Visualise all the negative things flowing out of you as you exhale, and all the love and happiness flowing in as you breathe in.

Try it ... now, don't you feel much better?

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