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Study tips and education news

Filtering by Category: Life

Year 12 Results Release – What Next?

Elio Damato

Receiving your year 12 results via text message will likely be one of the more stressful moments in your life. In the lead up it can be hard to know what to expect, and you might feel like there’s a lot of pressure placed on you.

Make sure you have someone on the day with whom you can discuss your results who isn’t also in year 12. It can sometimes be really hard to discuss your results with a friend when they have also just received theirs, and are trying to digest the information themselves. You’ll want someone who will share in your success or empathise if you don’t do as well as you thought. Your parents could be good people to have this chat with, although if they’re putting a lot of pressure on, you might want to find another close adult like a family friend or aunt or uncle you could talk to. Often schools will have careers counsellors working on the day you receive your results, so be sure to ask them anything you need to help you understand the implications of the score you have just received.

If you do as well as you wanted or better than expected

Congratulations! Enjoy the moment and have a quiet celebration with your family. If you’re planning to go to university, consider whether you want to change your preferences at this stage. You might have changed your mind in the last couple of weeks, or you might have done better than expected, and you can add a different course to the top of your list.

Please be sure not to change your preferences just for the sake of ‘changing’. Often doing a course simply because you achieve a certain ATAR may, in fact, lead to disappointment.

If you don’t do as well as you thought

Firstly, ‘Well done’ on all your hard work and on finishing year 12! It’s still a great achievement. If you would like to change your university preferences, you’ll have a chance to do so now. Almost all universities have information sessions or the chance to drop in and speak to an advisor during the change of preference period. Go and talk to someone about your options.

And remember, you DO have options. For example, there are often multiple pathways to help you get to your ideal course. Speaking to staff at a university can help you plan an alternative pathway and allow you to make the right decisions. Or you can take the opportunity to actually do something completely different than what you expected and embrace this as the opportunity to embark on a new phase of your life.

However, at the end of the day we are all individuals. Other people might not be having the same reaction that you are, so while you can certainly ask other people about their results, make sure the conversation moves on, as it can be a hard time for people who didn’t do as well as they expected. Rest assured, though, your life will not be determined by your ATAR. In fact, your results won’t matter in a few months time, so take a breath, play with the cards you've been dealt and start planning the next exciting phase of your life!

Making the most of your summer holidays

Elio Damato

As you reach higher year levels at school, your summer holidays get longer and longer. The summer between year 12 and university (for those going straight into further study) can be a long and glorious time with no commitments and lots of independence. One of the most important things to do during the holidays is relax – the break is designed to prepare you for another year of study, so you want to go back to school (or university) feeling refreshed. But there is also a whole lot more you can do during your holidays. Here are some ideas.

Work

The summer holidays are a fantastic time to earn some extra money. This could mean you save up enough to buy something special or go on a trip, or it could mean you can work less hours and focus on your study during term-time. A lot of the retail industry hire Christmas casuals over the summer period, so you could get a job that lasts just for the holidays if that suits you.

Volunteer

Now that you’ve got a bit of extra time up your sleeve, it’s a great idea to volunteer over the holidays. There are a lot of people doing it tough at this time of year, so find an organisation that speaks to your interests and find out how you can contribute your time. Volunteering also looks great on a resume!

Do your holiday homework

I know you will have been told this a million times already, but try to knock over your holiday homework earlier rather than later. You’ll regret leaving it all to the last minute, and you’ll feel even freer if you get it done at the beginning of the holidays.

Find a new hobby

You have time now to finish that project you started last summer but never completed. You could also find time for something new that you don’t usually do when you’re busier. You could read some more books or take up a new sport with a friend.

Catch up with a friend or family member

Now is a great time to catch up with someone you usually don’t make time for. You could message that friend who attends a different school who you don’t see much during the term. You could ring your grandma for a chat. You could organise to go out for dinner with your cousins. Reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in a while!

Relax

Remember to relax. That’s what you’re on holidays for. Just remember to intersperse your total relaxation with something like working or catching up a friend so that you don’t become bored by the end of the break!

Should you have a part-time job while you're studying?

Elio Damato

There are many reasons why you might want to have a part-time job while you’re still at school. However, you should think hard about this decision and make sure it’s the right one for you. For some students, they don’t have a choice about whether they have a job while they’re studying – they might need to support themselves or their family – so read our tips on the pros and cons of having a part-time job and also managing your time effectively while you’re working and studying.

Why is it a good idea to have a job?

  • Earning money of your own is really exciting! Making decisions about what to spend your own money on is a great way to increase your feeling of independence.

  • Having a certain amount of money coming in each week or fortnight is also a great way to learn how to budget. It helps you make decisions about what to spend money on, and you can learn principles around responsible money management.

  • Having the first job on your resume will also be great for any future job you apply for. Make sure you stay on good terms with your boss or manager when you leave so that you can ask them to be a reference!

  • Even if your job is relatively unskilled, you’ll still learn really important workplace skills. You’ll certainly learn about teamwork, compromise, following instructions, taking initiative, showing leadership, and even master simple things like organising your life so you get to work on time with a clean uniform on!

Why might you not want to have a job when you’re studying?

  • There is no doubt that having a job while you’re at school takes time out of other areas of your life. You’ll have less time to study and spend with your friends and family, and if you play a sport, it’s quite possible that you won’t have much extra time to work. Though this can be a challenge for some, see if you can overcome this by finding a job that will let you do just one or two shifts a week at regular times. This will make it easier to plan around your life.

  • Young workers are often exploited more than older workers. This is because, if it’s your first job, you’re less likely to know all the workplace rules and regulations, and often you may be seen as ‘cheap labour.’ You can do your best to manage this issue by doing lots of research before you agree to start a job. This could be in the areas of minimum wage, the difference between part-time and casual, and the award for your industry. This website could be a good starting place.

How to manage your important study time when you’re working

  • Make schedules of when you’re going to get things done. Stick to the schedule.
  • Ask your manager or supervisor if it’s possible to have a set number of hours or a set time for your shifts each week. This will help you to plan your life better.

  • Let your employers know that school is important to you. Most workplaces will be considerate of your desire to succeed at school, and give you shifts accordingly.

  • If you’re working to support yourself during school, or you have to support your family, make sure you know what support you’re entitled to from the government. You can find out here.

Maintaining self-esteem

Elio Damato

Self-esteem is an important thing to maintain. It can help us be happier and more resilient.

Some things that might make you feel bad about yourself during your years at school:

  • Not doing as well at school as you’d like to, or feeling “stupid”
  • Feeling unhappy with the way you look
  • Feeling like your friends don’t really like you, or like other people better

I think that all negative self-esteem more often than not comes down to comparing ourselves to others – others who we admire or are envious of, and who we see we’re not like in a certain way.

It is much easier said than done that you need to stop comparing yourself to others. Although it’s a gradual process (I know I’m still learning it!) it’s something that will make you much happier with your life and who you are.

If you’re having a lot of negative thoughts about yourself, stop and consider whether comparing yourself to what others are doing is an appropriate response for an intelligent and special person! Even this simple acknowledgement of why you’re feeling this way can help you to overcome the negative feelings a little.

Just as important as it is to not talk your self-esteem down, it’s also not helpful to make yourself feel better by dragging others down. For example, if you’re feeling unhappy about the way you look, it’s definitely not helpful to think, “Well, I might have bad hair, but he has bad skin”. All you are doing is getting caught up in the cycle of comparing yourself to others, which is hot helpful or productive at all.

We all have something different and great to offer, so it’s important to remind yourself regularly that there are plenty of reasons why you’re interesting, fun, smart or a great friend. It is also useful to remind your friends of the reasons why they are special too. Everyone likes to feel that they are admired for who they are, and if you can promote a caring culture amongst your friendship group you will find that the respect becomes mutual.

Often achievements can affect our self-esteem, so something that can help is to set reasonable personal goals. Your goals shouldn’t be based on what others are doing, and they should be reasonable enough for you to achieve. So if you’ve really been struggling with a subject, you shouldn’t aim to get an A+ on the next test. However, you could set a goal of improving on your score from the last test. With a little hard work and concerted effort, you may achieve some quick wins, all of which will go to building your level of satisfaction.

You could also remind yourself of some of the positive things you’ve done. While it can feel silly or self-absorbed to think about good things you’ve done, it’s also a good idea to remind yourself that you’re not a bad person! Take a break and think of three good things you’ve done, like “I’ve been really supportive of my best friend recently”, “I wrote three essays this week”, or “I made a delicious dinner for my family yesterday”. The word ‘self’ relates to you, the person, so if you can’t say something good about yourself, then who can? The good news is I bet you won’t have to think hard about wonderful things you have done for yourself and others.

It’s also important to be able to embrace and overcome mistakes and failures. We’re all going to do something we’re not proud of or wish we’d done differently. It’s important to realise that a mistake doesn’t define who you are. It’s also important to reflect on what went wrong so that you try to improve in the future.

No discussion on this topic would be complete without discussing the need to learn to like the way you look and its role in building your self-esteem. The first thing to remember is that your appearance doesn’t define who you are, and there are much more important things that you will be valued for by those closest to you, such as being hardworking and/or a good friend. It’s important to appreciate that your body has a purpose other than the way it looks. However, if you wish to make some healthy changes to your lifestyle, then ‘yes’ you can set body-related goals, just make sure they are about what you can do, rather than what you look like. This could be something like “I want to be able to run 6 kilometres” or “I want to be able to climb the 1000 Steps”.

Finally, take a good look around you because if you’re around people who put you down or make you feel especially bad about yourself, it might be a good idea to limit your time with them and change your environment. Avoid spending time with them if you can, or if you are comfortable enough to do something about it, then standing up for yourself when they say something negative will demonstrate to them that you respect who you are.

To learn more about how you can take control and improve your self-esteem refer to this page for more tips.

Nobody can overcome negative feelings about themselves entirely. We all have days where we don’t feel like we’ve been the best version of ourselves. But the journey to positive self-esteem will help you feel happier in the long run.

The importance of resilience

Elio Damato

Resilience is an important skill to have, but it’s one a lot of us struggle with. When something bad happens, it can feel insurmountable and prevent us concentrating on anything else for the rest of the day.

There are a number of issues you might face during school that will test your resilience, such as getting a bad mark, fighting with a friend or family member, feeling like you’re not getting anywhere in your studies, or having no idea what you want to do when you finish school.

Resilience helps us overcome the more difficult times in our life and helps us work through our problems in a reasonable way. We won’t all be successful all the time, so it’s important to be able to deal with the big or small things life throws at us.

You might say something like “I’m just not very good at dealing with my problems” or “I often overreact”. But resilience is not only based on our personality and characteristics. It’s also influenced by contextual factors, such as having a great support network and stable accommodation and finances. While you might not have the power to change these factors, there are some things you can do to improve your resilience.

Improving your resilience is not a quick fix – it requires long-term effort, and you might not improve straight away.

When something bad happens, you want to be able to think things through clearly. Try to take the time to engage with your problems rationally, rather than reacting emotionally. You can also think the problem through and analyse whether it’s really as bad as you think. If your brain immediately jumps to catastrophic situations, see if you can create an alternative scenario in your head. One thing I like to do is think, “Will this problem matter tomorrow? In one month? What about in a year?” This can help put some things into perspective.

When something unpleasant happens, you can also try to take action. Some people become paralysed by their problems, and find that when something goes wrong, they react by doing nothing. While you should certainly stop and think about what’s happened, you should also try to take some kind of action to overcome or work around the issue, and learn some strategies to boost your resilience to the situation.

You can also work on some things over a longer period of time that will help you to develop strategies for promoting resilience and developing self-awareness of your emotions and how you react. Start by reading this information page from Kids Helpline. Use the strategies listed as a starting point to digging deeper into how they might be able to help you. A great place to start is by asking someone you respect how he or she copes. Asking someone you have a strong connection with is a good place to start, because often how they deal with situations should resonate with you.

Learning to accept change as a normal part of life can help you adjust to different situations and problems more easily. Learning to become more optimistic by keeping a positive view of yourself and the world around you also helps you move on from small problems.

It’s also a good idea to practice self-care so that when something testing does happen, you are better equipped to deal with it. This includes things like sleeping well, eating healthily, getting some exercise, maintaining positive relationships, or even something small like having a bath or reading a book.

When uneasy things do happen, take the time to reflect on what happened and how you dealt with it. Even if you didn’t react in a way you would like to repeat, you can learn from that mistake. If you got a bad mark and reacted by ignoring that subject altogether, you can start fresh today by choosing to study that subject. If you had a fight with a friend, you can learn from the situation by thinking what you wouldn’t do next time you’re in a similar situation.

It’s also important to remember that even though being resilient and looking out for yourself is a great skill to have, you should also ask for help if you need it. Your family, friends and school will provide assistance if you’re struggling. Or you can seek advice from Kids Helpline by calling 1800 55 1800.

Overcoming Frustration

Elio Damato

When you’re studying hard for a long period of time, you might start to feel burnt out and frustrated, and your workload might feel completely insurmountable.

Sometimes we may lament that “There is so much to do that I’ll never get it all done – I may as well do nothing”. This is understandable, but unhelpful in the long term. Instead, follow some of these tips so that you can find the drive to go on and overcome the frustration of feeling like you’re stuck in a rut.

  • Set achievable goals. If you’re writing a list or thinking about what you want to achieve in a day, don’t expect too much from yourself. This isn’t an excuse to do one small task and call it a day, but you do need to set goals that you can reasonably achieve. Achieving every task you set yourself to do in a day gives you a great feeling of accomplishment. Setting achievable goals on a consistent basis will also prevent you from getting burnt out.

  • Break work down into small chunks. If you know that you’re super behind in chemistry, try not to think about the enormous amount of work you need to do to catch up. Instead, you can break it into smaller sections and focus on completing one section at a time.

  • Study in short blocks. Know the amount of time you can reasonably concentrate without a break – this might be one hour, for example. There’s no way you can concentrate for five hours straight. Schedule breaks throughout a study session, and don’t make your breaks longer than the scheduled time.

  • Save your easiest tasks for the end of the day. When you’re tired after an hour or two of really good study, it can be tempting to completely switch off. But at the end of the day you could also quickly do a small task that isn’t too much of a mental strain. This could be some kind of repetitive task like revising vocabulary for your LOTE subject. The flipside to this is making sure you do your trickiest work at the beginning, when your mind is fresh.

  • Make your study space a study sanctuary. I find that when I’m particularly unmotivated, it helps to make my study space as nice as possible. This makes it feel like somewhere I want to spend time. Light a scented candle. Put some flowers in a vase or move a houseplant into your space. Play some instrumental background music, if this isn’t too distracting for you. Make a special flavour of tea in your best cup.

  • Look after yourself. Try to make your breaks positive. For a short break, make a fun, healthy snack, like a fruit and veggie smoothie. For a longer break, go for a walk, run or swim. If you’re studying in front of a screen, try not to take breaks in front of a screen as well.

  • Remember that things will be better tomorrow. If you’re feeling frustrated or sad about your studies, remember that things will be better after a good night’s sleep. If you’re really not getting anything done, try to go to bed early.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Elio Damato

If your body doesn’t stay healthy, it’s really hard to stay focused on your studies, as well as all the other things going on in your life. While we can’t prevent all illnesses coming our way, here are some tips you can follow to avoid getting sick, and looking after yourself if you do.

Before you get sick

There are some good things you can do to help build your immune system, making it less likely that you’ll get sick.

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat healthily, including lots of fruit and vegetables – they contain heaps of vitamins!
  • Do regular exercise – maybe you could got for a walk, or play a team sport. Exercising will also help you sleep better.
  • Avoid infections by washing your hands regularly.

There are some other things you can do that have been shown to increase immunity.

  • Try not to be too stressed. This one seems counterintuitive to doing year 12, but in general, it's a really good idea to learn how to manage your stress as well as you can. You can help manage your stress by staying connected to important people in your life, practicing meditation, and getting more organised.
  • Maintain strong relationships. There is some evidence that that staying connected to people can raise your immunity. Positive relationships with family and friends are good for your mind, at any rate, so try not to isolate yourself, even when you're studying hard. 

It’s also a good idea to prepare yourself for the fact that you might get sick at some point during year 12. There are some things you can do so that this will hit you less hard.

  • Stay organised throughout the year where you can. If you unexpectedly get sick, you don't want this to completely throw a spanner in the works. Stay on top of everything as much as you can so that a couple of days in bed isn't going to set you back.
  • Don't take on too much. It's important to learnt to say no to things – you probably won't be able to do every activity that comes your way, so choose the ones you think are the most important.
  • Prioritise rest. Make sure you have scheduled times for chilling out in your week. This might mean that on Friday nights you stay home and don't study.

While you're sick

If you do get sick, there are some things you can do to try to recover.

  • Rest! Get as much rest as you can. This will help you recover more quickly.
  • If you feel up to it, go for a walk. You shouldn't do intense exercise, but going for a short walk to get some fresh air is a good idea. 
  • Stay hydrated. This is good for you at all times, but particularly when you're sick (especially if you're taking cold and flu medication).
  • Avoid making others sick! Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze to avoid spreading germs and disease to other people. 

If being sick has affected your studies, make sure you talk to someone about it.

  • Get a doctor's certificate if you miss important dates like a SAC. It's important to keep a record that you were sick so that you don't miss out on getting marks for a test.
  • If you've been significantly unwell during year 12, it's possible you can apply for special consideration, which can assist you getting into uni if your illness has impacted on your studies. You can find more information about this on the VTAC website. If you have an acute or chronic illness, you might be eligible for special provision in your school-based assessments and exams.

Managing the relationship with your family during VCE

Elio Damato

During year 12, you might be starting to feel more independent from your family, or like you want more freedom. This comes at the same time that you have to start focusing on your studies a lot more. It might feel like your family are hassling you during this time, but they can actually be your greatest allies.

If it feels like your parents are too pushy and they are more stressed by VCE than you are, firstly try to remember that they are only doing this because they care about you. However, if the pressure they’re putting on you just increases your stress, then you might want to have a conversation with them about backing off just a little. Try to approach this with kindness, because they really do just want you to be successful. Accept that they’re not going to stop caring about you, and try to think of their pushiness as a positive.

If your family mostly just leave you to do your own thing, then lucky you! However, if you know that you struggle with motivation, you can ask your family if they can help remind or encourage you to do your homework or study. Remind them that the VCE is important to you, but also try to absorb some of their chill vibes and remember that you’ll be okay.

If your family is really busy and have priorities other than your VCE, then you might need to remind them that year 12 is really important to you. This might include taking some time out from family activities to study, or setting up a quiet space designated for study at home. You can also find great support in other places. If home isn’t the best place to study, you can usually stay after school and study in the library for an hour or two. You could also go to your local public library. Your teachers really want you to succeed, so ask them for help if you need it. You might also want to think about finding a tutor.

You can use your family to your advantage during VCE. Your family want you to succeed, and they can be your best allies. You could ask them to practice flash cards with you. You could teach them the new topic you learnt in class today – teaching to someone else is one of the best ways to revise. Teach to your pet if your family is busy, as a way of reinforcing concepts learned. You could have a group study session with your siblings.

As someone who has a few years’ distance from trying to get along with my family during VCE, I know that they were my biggest allies during this time. My relationship with them has become so much better, and I appreciate them a lot more now. Try to appreciate your family now if you can. They might annoy you sometimes, but at least there’s someone around who always cares and will always laugh at your jokes.

Dealing with stress

Chris Ebbs

Author: Chris Ebbs

School can be stressful, particularly during year 12 when there are all sorts of expectations and goals you want to meet. But finding ways to manage your stress will help you be much more successful. It’ll also help you be healthier and happier!

  • Sleep. I’m sure you’ve noticed that being tired seems to make everything worse. It also makes it harder to study and harder to make decisions. Sleep is an important part of the learning process, as it can help commit things you’ve learnt to memory. Teenagers need more sleep than adults, so see if you can go to bed half an hour earlier tonight. Sleep can help you cope with everything else going on in your life, and can be a simple way to improve your health.

  • Exercise. Exercising is obviously good for your physical health, but it’s also good for your mental health. It can improve sleep, and if done regularly, can help you cope directly with stress. Go for a run or a swim, join a sports team, go for a walk with your friend, pet or family, or dance around your room.

  • Extracurriculars. Activities outside of school aren’t just something to put on your resume. It’s a good idea to have a variety of activities going on in your life. This could be something like playing an instrument or playing a sport. Even a part-time job can be a good distraction from the other things happening in your life. It doesn’t even have to be as formal as going to a piano lesson. You could create some art or get really into looking after your pot plants. Anything that’s getting you away from study for something else positive is a good way to cope with stress.

  • Say no. On the flipside of extracurricular activities, sometimes you have to cut down what’s going on in your life. If you’ve taken on too many shifts at work or you’re trying to make the Olympic team, it’ll probably be hard to stay focused on study. If succeeding at school is your goal, sometimes you’ll have to cut back on some of the other things in your life in order to manage your stress levels.

  • Talk to positive people in your life. Stay connected to your friends – don’t stop hanging out with them because you need to study all the time. Positive relationships can help create a sense of belonging, increase happiness and reduce stress. Your family is also an important part of your support network. They can help you cope with all the things you have to do when you’re stressed, whether it’s being there for a chat or letting you off your chores for the week.

  • Just do it. The homework that’s adding to your stress won’t provide stress once it’s done! Some of your stress could be reduced by sitting down at your desk and completing a task. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with something you know you can do. Ticking things off your to-do list can give you a real sense of achievement.

  • Get help if you need it. If stress is really taking over your life and you feel like you’re not coping or it’s affecting your health, talk to someone about it. You can start with a trusted friend, family member or teacher. You can also talk to a school counsellor or nurse, or find a professional counsellor or psychologist. Headspace is a great place to check out if you need some help with your mental health.

How many do you do?

Chris Ebbs

Author: Chris Ebbs

Year 12 is a pretty big year with many life-changing events all occurring at the same time.

One thing you can guarantee in year 12 is that you’ll probably receive more than your fair share of 18th birthday party invitations, and maybe host your own. Everyone seems to decide that this year they are going to have a big party and invite everyone they know.

Sometimes it feels like there’s one every weekend, or two if you’re really popular. 18th birthdays are really important to the person whose birthday it is – it’s the most fun they’re going to have all year! And though it is important to make time for your friends and have the chance to unwind, realistically it’s nearly impossible to attend every party and still achieve your study goals in year 12.

Let’s face it, there’s always pressure to attend every single party. You might feel FOMO if you didn’t go to one party and it turned out to be the most awesome party of the year. But if you want to succeed at school this year, you’re going to need to do two very important things you won’t do at any party: study and sleep.

Someone I know made a pact with their mum that they would go to one 18th a month. If you don’t have as much self-control as you’d like, perhaps ask your family to help remind you. If your friends won’t take too much study as an excuse, you can also enlist your parents for this: “I’m so sorry, but my mum won’t let me go.”

You most likely have all your SAC and exam dates for the rest of the year. It’s important to plan your year sensibly. It may help if you remind your close friends a few months out of the important times of the school year as well. This way if they are as conscientious as you are then they will consider this when setting the big date.

Taking care of yourself during year 12 means you should definitely attend some parties, but you probably can’t attend all of them. Finding the balance between different parts of your life is tricky, so try to remember that good friends are important, but study is important too.

Make time for your friends in year 12

Chris Ebbs

Author: Chris Ebbs

During some of the more stressful times at school, it can seem like a good idea to shut yourself up at home. However, it’s really important to stay connected to your friends. Year 12 can be stressful, and it’s a good idea to have a broad support network. Your friends are an integral part of this!

It’s likely that if your friends are in year 12 too, they’re also stressed. It’s a good idea to have friends with whom you can completely unwind. Try not to talk about study too much. Find another activity that will bring you together, something like going to see a movie, playing a sport together, going out for a meal, baking something, going for a walk or just hanging out.

The results of a recent study into the role of friendships in adolescent health conducted by a PhD student from Murdoch University showed that teenagers were less likely to become as emotionally affected by life stressors if they had a friend with them after they became upset. By monitoring their mood in real-time, it was observed that those with strong, healthy friendships were more resilient to the daily stressors of life.

When I was in year 12, two of my closest friends went to different schools. Although it’s sad that I didn’t get to see them every day, having friends at other schools was actually really great. It was a nice way to escape some of the day-to-day drama that was going on at my own school. So, if you have a friend you haven’t seen in a while, make a date!

While it feels like we can stay connected with our friends all the time by messaging and snapping and following them online, it can be really nice to catch up with them face to face when you can. It’s also a good way to separate your study time from your relaxation time.

So remember, when you’re studying, do it 100% – put your phone in a different room and really focus on what you’re doing. And then when you’re relaxing, do that 100% – try not to think about your studies.

Enjoying time with your friends is a great way to do just that.