Get enough sleep
Put down that late night mug of coffee! You are doing your self no favors by staying up until the wee hours of the morning. We know there are multiple benefits from getting enough shut eye and when we are studying our brains need sleep in order to consolidate what we have learned.
If you haven’t done so already, I would highly recommend putting together a study timetable. Be specific about the content you are going to go over and what time you will set aside to study. Also be sure to schedule in some breaks.
Here’s an example:
“Go over diabetes materials on Monday”
“Monday: Revise type 1 diabetes from 9-12, type up a table of diabetic medications from 1-3:30 then take a break to go to Spin class at 4pm.”
I know at this time of year, you might be yearning for hot chips, pizza, burgers and pretty much anything fatty and greasy you can get your hands on. Or you might have no appetite at all, and struggle to eat as much as you normally do. Both are normal stress responses and lots of students feel this way in the lead up to exams.
And I totally get it, I do. But by making an effort to continue to eat what you normally do, you will feel so much better. You probably already know how you will feel after eating fish and chips, you know its not really satisfying you.
At this time of year it can be really helpful to include lots of warming foods, some people feel more satisfied after eating a soup rather than a salad, for example.
Another good idea is to include a good carbohydrate source at every meal and snack. This might mean some wholemeal toast at breakfast, some pasta at lunch and some rice at dinner. You might snack on muesli bars, fruit, yoghurt, wholemeal crackers, a milky coffee, there are so many choices.
And try not to have a bowl of chips sitting on your desk while you study. You’ll just mindlessly chomp through the whole packet; you wont have enjoyed them at all or even realized how much you have eaten.
Nothing busts stress like working up a sweat! Exercising gives your brain a much needed break from study and allows you to focus completely on something different. If you are a social exerciser it’s a great way to get out of the house and engage in conversations that don’t revolve around what you’re studying.
It can also really help just to zen out and do something like yoga or pilates. Yoga really encourages you to live in the moment and just focusing on breathing and flowing from pose to pose can be utter bliss when you’re stressed out.
(NB: I feel like a need a disclaimer in here, since I just injured myself at the gym. Don’t go crazy. The last thing you need is an injury that will impact on your study or exam performance.)
Take a break
It’s really important that we take regular breaks from our work. It allows us to hit “refresh” and will ultimately result in better quality work.
Let those close to you know what you’re up against
It can really help to talk about the stress your under. Talking to someone can help alleviate any fears and worries you might have and it can really help put things into perspective.
I also find it incredibly helpful to tell those close to me that I have time set aside to study for exams, making me unavailable for socializing outside of my designated break times. Exams are important and you should treat them as such. You may have heard the saying “P’s get degrees!” While that is true, Passes won’t get you into a Master’s program!
Above all, remember to be kind to your self. It is a stressful time of year, and stress can manifest in our bodies as well as our minds. And be sure to treat your self after your exams are finished, they are a big ordeal and you totally deserve some pampering for getting through them!