Students- I’m looking at you. We all know the stress of exam season. This post may or may not have been brought on by the fact that I have my exams in two weeks (I promise, I’m not trying to procrastinate by writing this). This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, because I notice during the exam season that not just myself but also my peers start pumping ourselves with caffeine and forgetting that we need sleep while we power through all-nighters and try not to acknowledge the immense stress that we’re under. I have considerable experience as a Professional Disorganized Student, and yet even in the last minute frenzy of studying in an attempt to save my grades, I’ve come up with a few small ways in which us student can take care of ourselves. I hope you guys enjoy this post, I’d love to see some of the ways in which you take care of yourselves during exams!
1 – Grabbing a snack every now and then helps
Never ever underestimate the power of FOOOOOD. Gosh, that GIF makes me hungry. Bonus points if you get up to get yourself something healthy. Snacking on brain foods like nuts and fruits is always awesome, but everyone is different. Personally, I like to nibble on feta cheese while I study (gosh, I hope that doesn’t sound too weird. Don’t judge me, internet). Getting up to get yourself a snack is a nice way to take a (very short) break should you need one mid-study session when your actual scheduled study break is far, far ahead of you.
2 – Power naps can be absolutely wonderful!
If the bags under your eyes are wearing you down to the point where every word you read/write starts putting you to sleep, go take a nap.Be careful though, and try not to exceed a thirty minute nap- if you exceed thirty minutes on your nap duration, you’ll wake up all groggy! My ideal power nap is fifteen to twenty minutes, and usually power naps leave me feeling super duper refreshed and, most importantly, awake.
3 – If you must have all-nighters, be smart about them.
So in the ideal world us students would plan ahead and avoid all-nighters, but we both know that’s not the case. This is a self-care guide, yes, but it’s a realistic self-care guide. I’m an IB student, trust me when I say that I understand – sometimes all-nighters are just unavoidable. They’re not recommended by anyone, but when they are necessary, be smart about them. Bank sleep, and caffeinate with moderation the next morning. Take short power naps in the middle of your all nighter, and for the love of god stay hydrated. Not with sugary drinks, try good old water.
4 – Walk around during your breaks.
To get yourself really rested and calm during your study breaks, get up and walk around a little bit, even if it’s just around your room or your house. What’s key here is that you move so your mind can take a chill pill and get away from the study desk. By making your breaks more effective, you’ll be putting yourself in the best possible mind state when you get back to studying. Sometimes, the little things really can help!
5 – Never underestimate the importance of staying hydrated
..with water. I’m very guilty of loading up on sugars like iced tea, coke, and coffee while studying. Sometimes all it takes is water. Make sure you’re drinking it! A lot of the time, dehydration can creep up on my during the exam season and make me feel extremely fatigued. Also, if you’re dehydrated you’re making yourself more prone to headaches, and you really don’t want a headache right in the middle of a math problem.
6 – Don’t isolate yourself
This one’s a little more subjective, because some people feel as though they’re more focused when they’re completely alone during both study time and breaks. With me, however, I like using my breaks to engage with people just to relax a little. It’s a good little booster for your morale. I’ll sometimes even come up to my mum and ask her for a hug during my study breaks, just ’cause. Sidenote: googling “cute animals hugging” was the best thing I’ve had to do this week.
7 – Being colorful is always fun!
Studying can be boring. Ideally, we’d be passionate about what we’re learning, but sometimes that isn’t the case. Look, I love biology just as much as the next girl, but I can’t bring myself to feel passion about oxidative phosphorylation. Sometimes this makes me feel really negative towards the idea of studying, and I’ll wind up dawdling around my notes and just in general doing a bad job of studying, which will then lead me to being stressed out about the shitty job I did of studying, which then leads to me being stressed about wasted time.. the stress chain is infinite. I often use colors to grab my attention in notes to make them fun and easier and more bearable to pay attention to. Just be careful an don’t get carried away with making your notes photogenic, focus on the content!
8 – Don’t be hard on yourself.
So you’re probably thinking “this next tip isn’t even a tip!”. Anybody can tell you to not be hard on yourself, and I’m sure you’ve heard this one many times before. As I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to keep this guide realistic, but I can’t not include this tip. If you’re like me, then during the exams you’ll start beating yourself up for procrastinating or for being stupid (not that you are stupid, of course, but sometimes I do start calling myself stupid). When you do these things it really puts you in an awful unhealthy mental state. It makes you feel as though you can achieve less, which will result in you being less efficient. Show yourself a little love by maintaining a positive attitude 🙂
9 – Get as much sleep as you can.
As I’ve mentioned before in this guide, losing sleep is inevitable in the exam season. Sometimes you just have to pull that all-nighter. That being said, try to maximize your sleep. Don’t stay up watching YouTube, just go clock some extra sleep instead! Take power naps and in general try to bank as much sleep as possible, both during the exam season and in the weeks leading up to it. Your body will thank you!
10 – Keep the bigger picture in mind, always.
If you’re a college kid or an IB kid, don’t worry- I understand. These exams could count for your predicted score, or help you pass your course, or even make the difference between getting a C or an A+. Maybe these exams do matter, but at the end of the day they’re just exams- be realistic. If you’re trying to mug up your whole textbook a week before the exam, you should keep low expectations. Just try to not hype yourself up because that will heighten your stress levels for sure. So what if you fall short of your own expectations once? Life goes on, and you will be okay either way 🙂
Well, I’m off (to study) because my exams are near too! To all our student readers, no matter what phase of your education that you’re in, I wish you all good luck and I’m sure you’re going to exceed your own expectations. Us students have to stick together and express solidarity! My e-mail is always open to lamentations about your student life <3