I love this time of the year. To me it always symbolises the opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and to rethink the things that have happened in the past 12 months. It also symbolises, to me, the new beginning that is just around the corner offering me an opportunity to start again and move forward from any things that have happened through the previous year. However that is all very well, but for some poor folks this is a time for exams, tests and assessments. This is a time when those who have been studying or learning a new topic or skill are required to finally put pen to paper and give an account for what they have learnt in the past 12 months.
This can be an exciting opportunity for some however for many this is a time filled with fear, anxiety and stress. There is the fear of being judged and worst of all, the huge potential to fail and be seen as a failure. I would love to help in a little way and have written up 10 tips which may support you during your study time and support you through this stressful time.
The most important thing to remember is that to study required discipline, so to set up some routines at this time will help you to become more disciplined. Turn off your phone during study times, don’t read your emails, as this will just act as a distraction and try to limit or even eliminate outside interruptions. This is your time to focus on yourself and the reality is, the rest of the world can just wait.
1. Set up a study area:
The first thing is to set up a place to study. This should ideally have a desk and comfortable chair for you to sit on, plenty of natural light, or a good electric light and be well ventilated.
2. Work out your best time to study:
Work out when your best time to study is during the day. Personally I am a night time person and I have always done my best work in the afternoon and into the night. I am defiantly not a morning person, so this is my time to factor in rest time, time to check emails, social media and time for exercise etc. into a study timetable
3. Draw up a study timetable:
Set up a timetable that clearly sets out study times and also includes times for rest and relaxation. Make sure that there is a good balance in this. Factor time to do things like check emails, check social media etc into your timetable, and while you are studying stick to these times as these activities can become a real distraction.
4. Create a routine:
Set up a little routine, which will become a habit and will get the brain into the right ‘frame’ to study. E.g. I have a specific piece of music that I use when I am writing, as this gets my brain into the frame where it understands that this is what we are doing. I do not use this piece of music at any other time of the day. This is my writing music. My brain knows that when I put this music on it’s time to get serious.
5. Treat and reward yourself:
Give yourself a treat or a reward for doing what you need to do. I usually get myself a bottle of my favourite bath oil and after studying for the day I allow myself the luxury of getting into a steaming bath filled with beautiful fragrance and just lie there until I can feel the tension leaving my body. Your reward may be to talk to a friend on the phone, eat chocolate. What ever it is that you love doing.
The thing to remember however is that this is your reward for studying, and only allow yourself to engage in this activity once you have finished your study regime for the day. The other one I used to love was to watch a movie when I had finished writing an exam. Usually a cartoon movie as this was real escapism. A friend of mine used to buy a very expensive bar of chocolate, break it into small pieces, and used to then line these up in from of himself. He would only allow himself a little piece after every hour that he had spent studying. Checking your emails etc at this time is not a reward, as this can just add to your stress levels.
Factor some good exercise time into your timetable, nothing too extreme however as you don’t really need to fatigue yourself at this time, just enough to re-energise yourself.
7. Eat well:
Eat good healthy and clean food. Keep it light and fresh with lots of nutritional content. Try to avoid really heavy meals. Try to avoid junk food, lots of sugar laden foods and especially try to avoid alcohol etc. as this can dull your brain function. If you do need to have a junk food blow out or a drink, do this only occasionally.
Sleep is possibly one of the most important things to maintain during study times. The risk is that you will study late into the night and then up again early in the morning and by the time you get to the exam you are totally fatigued, and your brain is dull and tired. Try to get good restful sleep at night and allow yourself time to cat nap during the day. I have posted a very interesting article on different ways to sleep that may be helpful. See some thoughts on sleep here.
9. Get help:
If you are struggling with the content that you are studying, enlist the help of someone who can help you to understand. Lecturers, teachers and trainers are usually happy to support you at this time. Sometimes struggling with one concept can be very time consuming and frustrating and will limit the time that you have to spend on the rest of the content.
10. Be kind to yourself:
Lastly, and this is by far the most important concept….be kind to yourself. Please remember that this is an opportunity for you to assess your knowledge. This is not a time for you to judge or beat yourself up. If you do not meet the required standard, use it as a time to reflect and rethink what you are doing. Is this just a small step towards your real dream? Is this really what you want to be doing? Is this a stepping-stone toward where you really want to be? See this as not so much a failure but rather as an opportunity to regroup, rethink what you are doing. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and acknowledge your disappointment and then move forward again towards your next goal.
To close, I wish you all the very best at this stressful time and I hope that this has helped you in a small way to be able to move closer to your dreams and goals. Good luck with your exams and I hope that you all are able to give a true reflection of the knowledge that you have gained through the year. Go and be brilliant, because in reality you are already awesome xxxx
I would love to hear from you how you achieved in your end of year assessments and be able to share your disappointments as well as your successes with you.