It’s that time of year again. The snow has melted, snowdrops are pushing their way out of the earth, and students are losing their minds with impending
doom exams on the horizon. And the more you have to do, the harder it can be to know where to start.
Confession time. I am really disorganised when it comes to routine, especially since starting uni. But when exams are coming up the only thing that kept me functioning was implementing a routine:
- 6:00am: Wake up, drag self into the shower, crawl into clothes (comfortable, but nothing that could be mistaken for pjs, because it makes me feel less motivated if I could easily fall asleep).
- 6:30am: Walk to the grocery store, buy food for the day. My typical exam season food choices were low maintenance, healthy meals for breakfast and lunch (greek yoghurt with honey, fruit, ready cooked fish or chicken and salad etc), snacks such as chocolate buttons, biscuits or cereal bars and I’d usually cook a big meal for dinner that would stretch over a few days: lots of bulk curries, dhals, chilli etc.
- 7:15am: Breakfast (+ a very large, highly caffeinated drink).
- 7:30am: The studying begins. And lasts all day. I found that after about an hour, my attention would start to wander, so I committed to watching an episode of Bob’s Burgers between each hour of studying. And yes, it had to specifically be Bob’s Burgers- what is a better remedy for exam stress than a cartoon family that reminds you of your own crazy family? Also they’re short episodes so it didn’t really count as procrastination.
Other things I found helpful:
- Standing up: If I sit at my desk too long I start to get cabin fever, so I like to get up and pace around my apartment/blast some music for a 2 minute solo dance party/do a little bit of yoga.
- Change of scenery: In my first year, my friend Greg and I tried to study in the library once. We nearly got attacked because Greg answered his phone and had a good chat with his flatmate about party rings (for those of you who aren’t British, they’re a type of biscuit) and didn’t clock the situation even with me hissing at him to hang up the phone. We nearly died that day: you don’t mess with stressed out students. My flat was really creepy which got a bit distracting when we tried to study there, so we ended up making our revision plans in the pub. It was a bit unorthodox, yes, but just getting out of my bedroom felt like a holiday.
- Talking it out: Discussion is my favourite way to go over things- academic or not. On our way to all our exams, study-pal-Greg and I would fire off questions and facts to each other right up until we stepped into the exam hall. We used to text each other theory analysis and exam strategies, and keeping it fresh in our minds made exams so much less daunting.
- Self-care: It’s so important to maintain self-care during exam time! I always joke that you know if my studying is going well by the state of my eyebrows and the amount of laundry I haven’t done, but even I need to do small things to keep myself calm before I start to spiral into dispair and self-loathing. I liked cooking a really nice meal in the evenings- it felt like a reward for the long day of work, and cooking was a huge source of comfort to me when I lived so far away from home. One of my close friends went to Cambridge University and said that her favourite thing about exam season was that she always had really nice nails- that was her de-stress self care. Tons of people swear that making the time to go to the gym helps them feel focused and less tense. Whatever it is that helps you, identify it and do it.
- Don’t procrastinate! Just get it done. Starting is always the hardest part- once you get into the routine, things get a lot easier to manage. Putting things off just makes the situation worse.
Stay calm and good luck in exams! If you’re in need of a motivational tweet, let me know- I’m really good at dispensing PMA. 🙂