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Staying in touch with yourself and the real world this exam season

By Victoria Wolf, 2nd-year Linguistics/French student

‘Tis the season! No, not the holiday season…exam season. We’ve got our eyes set a relaxing winter break and are willing to do whatever it takes to get through these next few weeks. Because of this, it’s very easy to forget to set time aside to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. It’s important to take a few steps away from your books every so often to take care of yourself and make sure you’re ready to face exams.

Don’t forget to sleep

I’m sure we all know the feeling , the end of the night creeps up on you and you convince yourself that you can spare a couple hours of sleep in order to cram some more studying in. Because what difference will a few more hours of sleep make in the grand scheme of things, right? Wrong. The recommended amount of sleep for a university student is 7 to 9 hours a night and getting a full night’s rest will help improve your productivity the following day and will also help solidify the information you’ve studied into your long-term memory. If you are falling asleep on your keyboard, calling it a night will definitely be more beneficial than persevering through heavy eyelids.

…and eat

Also remember to eat and stay hydrated, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet that will sustain you through your studies. Avoid sugary foods or caffeinated drinks that will create an initial rush, but then have a “crash and burn” effect.

Take breaks

Within my study sessions I find the 50/10 rule to be a great tool – set a timer for 50 minutes of uninterrupted studying, followed by a timer for a 10 minute break. When creating your exam study schedule, make sure you also schedule in longer breaks to get some food, physical activity and human interaction. Powering through an entire day of studying without any substantial breaks will send your motivation plummeting.

Schedule times to refuel with friends

Leaving your last exam can sometimes feel like emerging from the giant rock you’ve been living under. Remember to set motivational rewards and take the time to hang out with friends or call family to chat about anything besides school.

Don’t “should” yourself

The past is in the past. Don’t dwell on your mistakes or habits during the semester. They can’t be changed now. Treat the exam period as a fresh start – an opportunity to redeem yourself or prove what you’re made of. Show that exam who’s boss!

Remember to breathe

Exams are definitely a stressful time, but this stress can be controlled. Breathe. You might consider trying a new relaxation technique, like deep breathing, yoga or journaling. A calm and peaceful mindset make a more effective studier. And in the words of Taylor Swift, when it comes to exam stress, just shake it off! You can do this!

Photo courtesy of Stephan Rosger under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.