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How to find balance in your life during Year 12

With the pressure you face during Year 12, it’s easy to forget it’s just another year in life. If you’re like many students, you’re prioritising your studies – but aiming for good marks doesn’t mean you have to give up all the things you love doing.

It’s not about procrastinating instead of working – in fact, it’s the opposite. Being flexible with your study, listening to your body, and making time for social activities, hobbies or sports is just as beneficial in your final year of high school as study itself. When you do hit the books, you’ll be refreshed, relaxed and ready to apply yourself.

Zoe Tilley, who graduated with an ATAR of 99.1 and is now studying a Bachelor of Arts at Deakin, explains: ‘taking time to rest and relax is so valuable during Year 12, and it will help keep you focused.’

Read on for more advice from three high-achieving students on why maintaining a ‘study-life balance’ is necessary to avoid overwhelm and burn-out.

Be flexible

One of the most common tips Year 12s are bombarded with is to create a study timetable – and stick to it. However, life isn’t set to a timetable. It can be messy and unpredictable, and trying to adhere to rigid time blocking of ‘when to study’ isn’t always going to work.

‘I didn’t set an hours-based study timetable until the weeks leading up to the final exams,’ Zoe says, explaining that she preferred to take a more flexible approach during the year. ‘My studying hours varied depending on SAC dates.’ Similarly, Esdra Sicari, who graduated Year 12 with an ATAR of 89.15 and is now studying a Bachelor of Criminology/Bachelor of Laws at Deakin, says, ‘I organised my study in the form of a flexible timetable.’

‘A flexible timetable is useful because, if for example something comes up, you can move things around your schedule,’ he explains. The benefits of this is knowing exactly what you need to do each day to stay focused, while still incorporating an element of freedom. Esdra highlights the importance of scheduling in regular breaks to keep study efficient and avoid becoming exhausted. ‘I found I was more focused when I did my study in sessions of one hour, followed by a 30-minute break.’

'Taking time to rest and relax is so valuable during Year 12, and it will help keep you focused.'

Zoe Tilley,
Student, Deakin University

Study your way

‘Really just do whatever feels most comfortable,’ says Maxwell Bond, who graduated Year 12 with an ATAR of 97.40 and is now studying a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce. Everyone studies differently – some prefer to study with a group, while others work better solo.

Zoe says, ‘I preferred to study alone, as I felt I worked better without distraction,’ but also found there were times when group discussions were more helpful. ‘It’s important to stay true to how you work best,’ she emphasises, saying you shouldn’t feel pressured to work with friends if you prefer to work alone, for example. ‘Study in a way that you can achieve the best results for yourself.’

Maxwell says, ‘I really only studied when I felt I needed to, and would study for as long as it took me to feel comfortable with the topic.’ However, if you prefer a more structured routine, go ahead! There’s no need to compare your study habits to those of anyone else.

Recharge

Maxwell says that finding the time to relax was an important part of his study routine. ‘Generally I wouldn’t study on a Friday or Saturday in order to really recharge, and then I would get back into my study habits on Sunday,’ he says.

Another great way to recharge is keeping up with sports and social activities. Zoe says, ‘I had a good balance between study and socialising.’ Making time to see friends and family is imperative in maintaining a positive mindset throughout the year. That’s because when you’re stressed, socialising with people who care about you results in an oxytocin boost, which will make you feel less anxious and more confident in your ability to cope with the pressure.

Esdra reiterates this, saying, ‘it was important for me to go out at least once a week on a weekend, as it was great to have fun with friends, and was a relaxing change from studying.’

Maxwell, who played in two basketball teams during Year 12, says, ‘basketball was a good break from study to really take my mind off any stresses.’ This goes for any form of sport or exercise, Zoe explains. ‘If you can find time, exercising and keeping up with extra-curricular activities is a great way to remain calm during the year.’ In fact, exercise is a proven stress reliever!

Balance

Here’s the most important point: it’s all about balance. Just as you wouldn’t ignore your Year 12 studies in favour of hanging out with friends every night, you shouldn’t ignore the things that make you happy so you can spend 40 weeks buried in piles of school work.

‘Ensure that you have a balanced lifestyle,’ Esdra says. It can mean the difference between having a healthy, positive year, and burning out early.

Listen to your body and mind. ‘Don’t be too hard on yourselves if you can’t manage it all at once. You aren’t expected to “do it all” during Year 12,’ Zoe says. ‘The most important thing is to balance study with down-time.’

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