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Since the exams are still looming (yes, I’m still very much rattling on about them.. Let me complain, if I can’t rant in my own blog then where can I?) and since I’ve been feeling the drag of the study/sleep deprivation/general exam and pre-Christmas stress, I’m just going to post up a little about how I’m coping with it all lately.

Jumping right into it – I’m having an excellent time in Paris. I love this place, I love Erasmus and I love that I’ve landed here in the Centre Culturel Irlandais surrounded by the most incredible little Irish community right at my fingertips. I don’t feel homesick, I’ve no issues of real concern and overall I’d consider myself quite lucky to have everything working out as well as it is.

Despite all these wonderful things in my life right now, this past week I’ve still found myself feeling swamped and a little bogged down by everything that’s going on. I can’t really justify it, nor do I feel much of a need to, but I guess it’s made me realise that taking care of my mental health and giving myself sufficient “me” time isn’t just something I should do when things get particularly out of hand. It’s probably good practice in general and I think I’ve been neglecting that.

What if people got the same reaction for physical problems
 as they did for mental health?

It’s okay though. I’m in the process of fixing it. Here’s how.

So firstly, I’ve prioritised exercise that bit more. It’s not that I wouldn’t consider myself active (the Luxembourg Gardens are excellent for jogs and along the Seine is ideal for evening walks) but sometimes after a long day of study I’ve been opting for Facebook over heading out and getting some fresh air. I thought I was giving myself “me time” through social media, but then this week I realised that exercise is better at helping unwind than trawling through Facebook pages. Try it.

Sleep. I can’t stress this one enough. I’m a massive fan of lie-ins and, because of the recent workload I’ve been giving myself, they seem to have just disappeared. I’m trying now to combat early starts by giving myself early nights too, though it’s easier said than done given that most of my friends back home come online around 10pm, that being 11pm here. I do feel much better for the extra few hours rest, so it’s something I’m working on.

Another thing I’ve started doing is changing my diet. It’s probably just as much a mental thing as physical, but I feel better when I’m eating better. Salads are in more and I’ve cut down on the amount of chocolate and soft drinks I’m having. I’m trying to drink more water too. Naturally the advent calender is still an exception to all of the above. Cutting that out would only lead to great distress from all involved.

One of the most important things I think I can do in all of this is remember to take days off. It’s feeding back into the “me” time, but all work and no play genuinely does play a huge role in the stress levels. We’re going Christmas shopping this week and not one book will be opened that day. I’ll drink mulled wine and buy loads of little presents and be completely and utterly happy without one bit of study guilt. This is a promise to myself and I guess to everyone else who might have to put up my the grumpy version of me that’s been lurking about the house this week.

Finally, talking about it. It’s a fairly road-tested and well proven method of getting right back on track to being happy. Today I sat on the train to college with my friend Orla and talked through everything that I was getting worried about. I think I needed someone going through the same thing to reel me back in.

Even though I know it’s stupid, I’ve been blowing the tiniest things out of proportion recently when really, in perspective, my concerns aren’t that serious at all. I said that at the start – I’ve no real reason to be unhappy, but that isn’t something that I factor in when I’m getting stressed or overwhelmed. I’m fixing it all now though. Onwards and upwards!

Sorcha x.

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