The days are warming up, flowers are in bloom, and exam season is almost here. The coming weeks might be filled with a lot of study sometimes matched with a lot of stress. These are some simple, evidence-based tips to make sure our brains are in a healthy position to perform their best.
Exercise as a tool: Sometimes doing revision feels like the information goes in and then flies straight back out. Exercise has been shown to improve attention while studying, and retention so you can recall information better. There doesn’t seem to be an answer on what the best exercise is – do what you enjoy! What studies have shown is that moderate intensity exercise is the sweet spot – build exercise into your study plan and get your heart rate up with a light sweat.
Sleep improves learning: When exams are looming, it can feel like time is running out, but don’t sacrifice your sleep! Sleep is one of the most powerful tools to help our brains function. Sleep is not a ‘quiet time’ – the brain is very active working through information, consolidating memory, and improving our ability to apply information. A good night’s sleep is important every night, not just the night before the exam.
Manage stress and get help: A little stress can improve our performance, but when it grows, stress works against us. It’s harder to put new information in and retrieve it back out. You can help manage stress with good habits, like exercise or sleep, and talking to friends or family about how you are feeling. If you find that stress is getting the better of you, get help. Chat to your school or contact your GP.
Remember that exams have an end date and will not go on forever. Take a moment to think about what you want to do when they are done.