Looking after mental health during exam time
With exam season either already in full swing, or looming ahead, it is so important to make sure that we look after our mental and physical health. We know that this can be especially hard during crunch points when we don't always have the time to revise and take time out, but here are the tips that have worked for us in the past:
1. make a timetable:
don't schedule 8 hours of work every day if you know that it's unrealistic (and will just make you feel disappointed when you can't complete it). make a realistic plan that you will actually stick to and allow yourself to feel proud when you do!
2. schedule in your breaks:
in your revision plan, physically write in your time for breaks. decide what you are going to do in these slots - perhaps go for a walk, or read a book, or watch some TV. by deciding on an activity, it will feel like you have had more of a rest, rather than just sitting at your desk till the next session begins.
3. phone detox:
this does not have to be super extreme, but something as simple as muting people on social media who post about their own revision can be really helpful. the last thing you need during your exams is to be comparing your work to some Instagram influencer with 20 shades of pastel highlighters.
4. change of scenery:
science shows that changing the place you revise can help you remember things better! true or not, a change of scenery is more than just a nice break for your mind. i find that active recall and essay plans can be easily done in local cafes. for my more hardcore revision, I like going to my local or school library - the feeling of being surrounded by others working tends to force me to focus more.
5. eat well:
my favourite part - during exam season make sure you are eating enough vitamins (fruits and vegetables) to allow your brain to function optimally. fatty fish, blueberries and broccoli are just 3 of the foods proven to increase memory, function and alertness. eating between revision sessions can improve energy and focus, especially during long days. and most importantly, make sure to eat foods you enjoy and make you feel good - I find a bit of chocolate at the end of the day just makes me feel better, even if my day was not as productive as hoped!
no matter the outcome, remember exams are what you make of them. a result lower than hoped can be a really useful learning tool and simply something that helped you do better next time. remember that a score is not the be all and end of all, and is certainly no reflection of you as a person. good luck!