As you focus on revising for your upcoming exams, it can be easy to forget that effective preparation involves more than just studying the material. In this post, we take a look at the importance of physical and mental wellbeing for exam success, focusing on how to stay healthy, focused and ready to perform at your best in the days and weeks ahead.
Take regular breaks
No matter how much revising you do, there’s only so much information you can take in over the course of a day. Make sure that you are setting aside time for proper breaks during your study and planning things to look forward to, even at this stage of the game. Do things that make you happy in your downtime – bake a batch of biscuits, read a book for fun, or listen to music or a podcast.
Spend time outside
It can sometimes seem like a cruel irony that the exam period occurs during such a beautiful time of year. But just because it’s study season, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of a sunny day. Getting outdoors, even for a short period of time, can have real benefits for your mental health, including improved concentration and reduced stress. Make time to escape the confines of your desk and breathe in a little fresh air – a trip to the park, for example, can be all it takes to reset your mind.
Mental and physical health are very much part of the same package, and it’s important that you are looking after both in the lead-up to exams. Regular exercise is a great mood-booster, as well as having its own obvious physical health benefits. If you’re an avid gym-goer, don’t let your routine suffer during the exam period. But even if pumping iron isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other forms of exercise, and even thirty minutes of walking each day is enough to see tangible improvements to your stress (and fitness) levels.
Watch what you eat
You wouldn’t fill up a sports car with anything but the best fuel, and nor should you be loading up your body with junk food in the lead-up to the exam. Make sure you’re maintaining a balanced diet that includes a combination of vegetables, fruit, slow-release carbohydrates (such as wholegrain bread and oats) and good protein (such as oil-rich fish and seafood). On exam day, stay away from too much caffeine and make sure to drink plenty of water. Avoid skipping meals (especially breakfast) and pack snacks such as fruit and nuts if you think you might need an energy boost between exams.
Hit pause on social media
With crunch time well and truly here, the need to stay away from unnecessary distractions is more important than ever. As well as having the potential to eat up your precious study time, social media can often become a source of stress itself. (Just think of the myriad updates from friends posting about their exam anxieties or worries.) If you haven’t done so already, set strict limits on how and when you use social media, and avoid using your devices late at night leading up to exam days.
Get enough sleep
It’s the dilemma that’s been around since students began taking exams: is it worth sacrificing those few hours of shut-eye so I can cram more study in the night before? Probably not, according to the research. The latest studies suggest that by not getting enough sleep you are likely to do much worse on your exam than someone who got the recommended amount of rest. A good night’s sleep (eight to ten hours for teenagers) is crucial for consolidating the knowledge you have gained and making sure you can perform at your best during the day.
Keep things in perspective
Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment, it’s important to remember that there is life after exams. Study hard and strive to do the best you can, but also remember to be kind to yourself. If you feel that you haven’t done as well as you would have liked, either during your study time or the exam, try to avoid dwelling on your performance or criticising yourself. Instead, take a deep breath and focus your attention on the next step.
Ask for help
Sometimes the stress and expectations associated with exams can become overwhelming. If you find yourself feeling this way, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Speak to your school counsellor, or share your worries with a trusted friend, parent or teacher – it’s always better to ask for help early, before the stress starts to affect your performance.
Taking steps to look after your physical and mental health alongside your exam revision can make a big difference to your success in the exam period and ensure you finish the year on a positive note.
From all of us here at Insight, good luck and happy studying!
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