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4 Steps to exam-stress freedom

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So exams are knocking on your door and you’re feeling like the troubles of the world are on your shoulders. You’re sweating profusely and your tummy has suddenly acquired gymnast status with the amount of somersaults it’s doing. Oh schhhhhnitzel! Before your stress alarm hits panic mode, sit down (or stand) and check out a few steps that will help you survive the turmoil of exam mania!

Step 1: Revamp your room

Cleaning your room can be such a draaaag at times. Make that all the time. I mean, we all have better things to do in life that are way more important than tidying up our room, right? Wrong. According to a study published by researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, the chaos in a cluttered environment restricts your ability to focus and limits your brain’s ability to process information. The research shows that a clean, organised and clutter-free working environment leads to less distraction and irritability and improves creativity and productivity.

Start by opening your windows to allow some fresh air to come in. Clear away all the clutter surrounding you and put everything back where it belongs.

Furniture can also have a huge impact on the way you study. It would be helpful to have a small desk in your bedroom that is used for studying as opposed to studying on your bed. When sitting on your bed your brain is automatically programmed to think ‘sleep’. This is why most people doze off while studying. Studying at a desk can help avoid this. Also make sure that your room is properly lit and the lighting is well adjusted. A reading lamp can be of great use here.

Music can be an added advantage. Some people tend to be more productive when there’s soft music playing in the background. Play some soft, soothing music of your choice. However, if you tend to study better in complete silence, then rather stick to that. Different strokes for different folks.

Step 2: Studying

Plan your day

Create a daily schedule or timetable of all that needs to be done on each day of the week. If timetables are not your speciality, you could also jot down a to-do list of all the tasks that need to be completed on a specific day, starting from the most important to the least important. This is a great way to keep track of your goals and you can always go back and tick off all the tasks that you managed to complete at the end of that day.

DON’T cram!

There’s a difference between memorising and cramming. This we all know … And nothing leads to cramming more than procrastination. Study for an exam well in advance instead of waiting for the 13th hour. However, if this does happen, then at least study to understand the work as opposed to cramming.

No temptations

Your phone keeps beeping from the occasional Hey, wat r u doin?text. Or you just got the latest season of Vampire Diaries from a friend. You may not realise it, but temptation is lurking in every corner of your room. The best way to avoid it is to keep it away. Shut down your laptop, switch off your phone and don’t update your data. Deliver yourself from temptation to ensure more effective studying.

 Take breaks

Staring at a book for too long can put unwanted strain on your eyes. Your mind needs regular breaks in order to stay alert and productive. Be careful not to overdo it though. A 30- to 45-minute study session followed by a 15-minute break should be more than enough. Grab a glass of water and a snack during that time or take a walk outside. Don’t touch your phone or watch TV because this causes additional strain on your eyes.

Join a RELIABLE study group

The keyword here is reliable. Study groups can be a great and effective way to study. This way you can bounce ideas off each other and gain insight on anything that you may not understand. On the other hand, if you feel like you work better alone than in a group, then carry on with that.

 Sleep!

According to Dr William Kohler, Medical Director at the Florida Sleep Institute, an adequate quantity and quality of sleep is necessary for optimal learning. At least eight to 10 hours of sleep a night should be enough. He says that adequate sleep will lead to improved memory. “A student’s performance in the classroom is dictated by the amount of sleep he or she gets the night before. A teen who regularly gets enough sleep will have improved academic performance, a positive attitude towards their education, and be able to better interact socially with their peers and teachers,” says the doctor.

Step 3: Body basics

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘A healthy body houses a healthy mind’, and just as you guessed, this age-old adage applies to studying as well. Notice how happy and positive you feel after a good jog? You’re just bursting with energy and vitality. The point is that when you feel good physically, this is most likely to rub off on your mental and emotional state as well.

Step 4: Nutrition

Eat nutritious foods and maintain a healthy diet. Brain foods such as fish and nuts, which are rich in omega-3 and vitamin E, should do the trick. Stay away from junk food and caffeine because these types of foods provide short-lived satisfaction and drain the body at a later stage. You don’t want to feel sluggish before a study session. Rather snack on fruits as opposed to chips and chocolates. Also, drink lots and lots of water. You can never have too much water. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Water is good for the skin. Who knows … it may even help you dodge the occasional pimple or two.

By Siyasanga Joyi

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