How to Handle Exam Stress
To study effectively you need good health and good blood supply. Your brain uses more than 20% of your body’s energy so it has to have the right food and nutrients all the time.
POSTURE: When you study do not crunch up over the desk. It stops you breathing deeply and slows oxygen getting to your brain.
- Remember to stretch, put your shoulders back and take a deep breath regularly. It feeds your brain.
DIET: Eating the right nutrients for the brain and to increase levels of concentration is essential. Even small declines in glucose can cause significant “brain fog”. Not good for study and doing well in exams.
- Eat breakfast. Not eating breakfast causes you to be 20-40 percent dumber in studying and exams. Raw muesli with nuts. Add a piece of cut up fruit. Don’t add sugar, instead add a piece of fruit or some berries and crushed nuts and seeds. Other good options are egg on multigrain toast or a smoothie.
- In between meals nibble on raw nuts, vegetable sticks and fruit, this feeds the brain.
- Decrease sugar and processed foods. They can create a short-term glucose high in the blood and a long-term glucose low causing foggy thinking.
- Increase good oils called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA). 60 percent of your brain is made up of these EFA’s. High quality fish oil capsules are recommended.
- Increase dark green vegetables such as spinach, silver beet, broccoli, bok choy. They provide essential vitamins and minerals for your brain to function and think clearly. One study found better memory results from eating greens. It puts muscles on your brain.
- Drink lots of water. Avoid sugary soft drinks particularly just before an exam.
- Have a weak cup of coffee or tea 30 minutes before the exam. But only one.
EXERCISE: Before the exam and during each study period have a brisk 10 minute walk. The exercise gets blood flowing to your brain supplying oxygen, antioxidants and glucose. It also releases chemicals in your body to reduce stress. It will help everything you have done sink into the more powerful subconscious part of your brain.
- Leave screen time for after exams. It has a deadening effect on your brain and emotions.
- Avoid studying late at night when your brain is getting tired. The morning is the best time to study.
- Mind maps are an excellent method to summarise course notes. See www.buzanworld.com for a free explanation on how to mind map.
- Smile as you sit down to study or start an exam J
- Open the door and windows. Fresh air is critical to good brain function.
- Get rid of distractions. You can only concentrate well on one thing at a time. Turn the phone, television and all other distractions off, with the exception of a little gentle background music.
- Make where your study a positive place. Put up messages that inspire you.