Once again, it’s exam season. The most dreaded time of the semester when you can’t seem to sleep, eat, or overall function properly because you’ve become so numb. We often neglect our fundamental needs when we get so busy and stressed, but it’s important that we still take care of ourselves. I’m guilty on multiple counts for not tending to my own physical and mental health when it comes to exam season, so I thought that it’s time I take action to doing things for myself to get me through tough times easier.
Here is a list of things that are important to do when exams start to take a toll on you. Some of these may seem like no-brainers to you, but sometimes we all need a reminder to get us to actually take action.
1. Let the people in your environment know what you need in order to study.
If you live at home or with a roommate, you might be surrounded by people who aren’t also doing exams. Your younger siblings might have friends over, or your housemates might pop into your room to nag about groceries. Make it known to them that you need your quiet time, and what times of the day you don’t want to be disturbed.
2. Find a study spot that works for you.
This might not be in your bedroom, or even your apartment or house. The library is a common place to study, but maybe the coffee shop works better for you. A good study spot isn’t necessarily the one that your parents or your friends recommend to you. Everyone gets distracted by different things, so find a place that has the fewest distractions for you. For example, I know I can’t focus well when a room is too quiet, but I can be productive when working at a particular Starbucks.
3. Maintain a healthy diet.
Especially for those of you who don’t have your parents or grandparents cooking for you, you’re probably going to struggle with this. Preparing food during the semester is already a hassle–not to mention the difficulties of it when you want to optimize your time during exam season. But it doesn’t have to be difficult! Make sure you have at least a couple fruits a day and that you’re not neglecting your greens. Rather than snacking on chips and candy for motivation, reward yourself with a tasty sandwich, a fresh salad, or even some oven-baked chicken nuggets. Your body will thank you later, and you’ll be more energized. Also remember to drink plenty of water!
4. Get enough sleep.
No matter how obvious this point is, most of us probably neglect it. Pulling an all-nighter isn’t really worth it if you’re going to wake up groggy and inattentive. You’re better off getting a good night’s sleep. Even a nap is better than nothing, if you’re desperate to stay up to study. Your brain needs sleep to process and digest information, which means that sleep is more important than just to keep you awake during an exam!
5. Remember to take breaks.
If you ever feel like you’re going crazy after a long study session, you should take breaks every once in a while. Look outside your window, go for a short walk, do 50 jumping jacks, jam out to a song, or watch cat videos for 10 minutes. Let your brain and body recharge. You’re not running a marathon here–you’re allowed to make pit stops!
6. Study only what you need to study.
As much as you’re concerned about not being able to cover all the course material, you also run into the risk of studying too much. Find out what you’ll actually be tested on. A great place to start is by looking at the objectives of each week or topic. Concepts that your professors place great emphasis on are important as well. If there’s something in a textbook reading that your professor never once mentioned, chances are it’s not so important.
7. Organize your tasks, time, and your mind.
Plan out what you need to do and when you need to do it. Great ways to do this include using a daily or hourly calendar (depending on how specific you want to be) and creating to-do checklists. You are more likely to get things done if you write out the tasks, and checking items off a checklist is so satisfying! Also write down any other responsibilities you have, such as paying bills or walking your dog. Have a notepad or scrap piece of paper nearby while you study so you can jot down any distractions in your mind–this can help you detach from those thoughts for a bit so you can focus on studying.
[Read also: 10 Ways To Stay Focused While Studying]
8. Take advantage of old exams.
If your school has an exam bank, look for previous exams there. If not, try looking in the exam bank of other schools that offer the same or similar course that you’re studying for. One of the best ways of studying is to test yourself, so going through past exams (especially while timing yourself) will prepare you for the exam. Plus, if you’re wondering what the exam will be like, this is a good way to get a preview!
9. Express your love to your loved ones.
I have a tendency to lash out and be blunt to people when I’ve got a lot on my plate, which can be hurtful to the people I care about. During your study breaks, go give someone a big hug–your mom, your brother , your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your dog. Let them know that you appreciate them, and they will probably reciprocate the appreciation. It’ll feel great to have physical contact with someone during a time of stress.
10. Use your interests to help you remember concepts.
Are you an artist? Try color-coding your notes. Do you have a passion for music? Rewrite song lyrics to help you memorize lists. Love watching movies? Link significant figures of history to movie characters. Studying can be fun if you choose to make it fun!
11. Don’t compare your knowledge with your classmates’.
Comparing yourself to your peers will cause you to feel like you haven’t done enough or that you aren’t good enough. It’s easy to be excessively and irrationally harsh on yourself when you’re stressed out, so don’t give yourself the opportunity to stress out even more. Remember that everyone is intelligent in their own way and also express that intelligence uniquely.
12. Let the past stay in the past.
After finishing an exam, don’t think about it anymore. Comparing your answers with your friends will just make you feel more anxious about your results, especially if you end up having put down different responses. Spare yourself the burden and move on to studying for your next exam.
Get that oxygen flowing to your brain. Taking deep breaths can help you calm down when feeling anxious. Remember that no matter what happens, it is not the end.
Featured image source: snufkin