The time between starting revision and finishing exams as well as exam stress can feel like it’s never-ending, and watching the uni/college/school work pile up while everyone else counts down to summer can feel overwhelming.
But don’t let your hectic revision schedule lead you to burn out – here, fitness blogger and practising PT Zanna Van Dijk shares her tips for staying motivated and successfully dealing with exam stress.
1. Fuel your body properly
‘Nourish your body. I know the mega pack of chocolate fingers is calling to you, but it won’t fuel your brain as effectively as a more nutrient dense choice. Try making yourself healthy comfort food such as warming curries, wholesome casseroles and even pies. If you’re short on time, still try to make at least two of your meals a day, so you can ensure you’re getting in vital vitamins and minerals to support your mental functioning.’
2. Prepare snacks in advance
‘When you’re working for hours on end, it can be easy to open a sharing bag of crisps or treats and polish the whole thing off before you know it. Try to snack smart instead. Keep sharing bags our of your vicinity unless you have the willpower of steel. Instead, prepare your own snacks such as fruit chunks, veggie sticks or homemade energy balls.’
3. Don’t shun your workouts
‘I know the last thing you want to be doing right now is exercising – but trust me, it will boost your brain power. Having some time out from work to move your body not only benefits your physical health but your mental health too. It releases endorphins which can help reduce the stress you’re feeling while giving you much needed time away from your desk.’
4. Get enough sleep
‘This is a biggie. Without sleep you can’t focus properly, your memory isn’t as sharp, and you can’t process information as well, so work becomes more of a struggle. Try to clock up a minimum of 7 hours a night to reap the immediate benefits of being well rested – which is especially important the night before your exam!’
5. Stay hydrated
‘Dehydration is not fun. It can lead to fatigue as well and headaches and a feeling of a ‘cloudy mind’. To help you perform at your best, ensure you sip on liquids throughout the day. Try to stick to water, rather than soft drinks or caffeinated ones. Talking of caffeine..’
6. Avoid excess caffeine
‘It is so easy to fall into the trap of turning to coffee, energy drinks and caffeine highs to help you power through long hours of studying. However, instead of helping you work into the night, you’re more likely to experience a caffeine crash and struggle to focus. Plus these drinks don’t help you towards your hydration goals. Enjoy in moderation!’
7. Take regular breaks
‘Self-care isn’t selfish, and a work/life balance is essential. Try to schedule in time to see friends and family, or just to have some ‘you time’ chilling out watching YouTube videos. Doing something you love will relax your mind and make your day more bearable, in turn making you work harder and relaxing your brain.’
8. Plan your time efficiently
“In order to make the most of the hours in your day and be productive both with work and scheduling time for yourself, it’s essential to make a plan. Try making a daily schedule or to-do list which breaks your time up into hour slots. It makes it satisfying to tick off your tasks, and also means you’re more likely to stick to your self-care goals such as sleeping, eating well and working out.”
This article first appeared in Cosmopolitan UK.