You would think that over a decade’s worth of exam experience would be enough to prevent me from googling ‘Why am I stressed?’ five hours before a deadline. It seems that whilst it is normal for us students to be subjected to large amounts of stress and anxiety at this time of year, discarding unhealthy habits that we have grown accustomed to seems as challenging as obtaining a First. So it’s all the more important for us to know the techniques to tackle it face-on as exam season approaches. The base concept of mindfulness is to be attentive and present to our internal and external environments, and the effects of regular practice are heavily underrated. Regardless of whether or not you are aiming for a First, incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine is a great habit to attain. Whilst some of us may have already mastered the art of effective revision, I still believe that the two go hand-in-hand. So here’s my personal take on how to cultivate optimum mindfulness through proven techniques during exam season.
Mindful Tip 1: This is, unfortunately, not Bridgerton.
In an attempt to redeem myself for that hurtful strike of reality, I will try my best to highlight the positives of this obvious but heartbreaking analogy. For those who aren’t avid watchers, the popular Netflix series essentially revolves around maintaining relationships in a social sphere through carefully regulated soirees and activities. As university students we are constantly exposed to a seemingly endless stream of social events, and some of us this term may have a hard time cutting back on our social calendar. However, practising healthy ways of socialising can help improve your mindfulness, and make you completely present when supporting your friends during exams. To ensure this, remember to socialise on your own terms by effectively planning your social activities around your revision schedules and allocated ‘me time’ rather than vice versa, keeping them in separate times and places. Exchanging regular pres for study buddies, lunch breaks, and sports sessions are great examples of this.
Mindful Tip 2: Water is the new coffee
Speaking on behalf of my fellow caffeine enthusiasts, I must confess that marching into a coffee shop and coming out with a cup of ice and a straw in hand is my most favourite part of the day. Particularly during deadlines, the rush it gives me makes me feel like I’ve reached my prime state of productivity. However, the drawbacks, such as increased agitation, caffeine crashes, and a disruptive effect on sleeping patterns, could play against your overall health during exams. Whether you like coffee or not, drinking plenty of water is the most effective way to combat these effects and the toxins in your body. Not only is keeping fully hydrated good for your skin, body, and mind, but an addiction to it is also certainly more financially feasible than a fiver a day for coffee!
Mindful Tip 3: The early bird catches the First
As a devout night owl, I have always despised the idea of becoming a ‘morning person’. So it is with a heavy heart that I bring you the news that changed my mindset: a 2019 study which revealed that the most successful people start their day at 5:30am. Now, whilst this habit is not reserved for the billionaires and CEOs, joining Robin Sharma’s famous ‘5am club’ requires high levels of self-discipline, and certainly involves a lot more changes than just one’s sleep cycle. Rising early has an array of benefits, as you’ll have gained extra planning time to identify your daily goals or focus on your well-being and self-improvement. Often, it’s a lack of structure and routine that can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety–so making time at the start of your day will provide you with a significant productivity boost. But also remember to not be discouraged if you wake up slightly later, and motivate yourself to continue with your daily routine. Aim for progress, not perfection!
Mindful Tip 4: Hot scholars journal
Journaling is a simple and underrated habit that encourages mindfulness. The concept of this written stream of consciousness is a helpful tool in gaining control of your emotions and coping with examination blues, particularly when the countdown starts to take a toll on both your physical and mental health. By providing yourself with a place of expression without judgment, journaling will give you the opportunity for positive self-talk–eg. through affirmations, listing 10 things you love about yourself, or what you’re thankful for. It can also prompt you to identify any fears and concerns you have and, once identified, construct a plan to resolve them, effectively reducing your stress.
Mindful Tip 5: Let’s get physical
Of course, the only time that we are fortunate enough to be spoiled by sunny weather is during exam season. However, we should take it as a sign to leave the library for a couple of hours and make the most of it by getting involved in physical activities outdoors. Whether it’s playing tennis with a friend or going for regular walks, many studies have shown that movement can improve mental health. Psychologists reveal that these benefits include increased levels of energy, improved mood, and mental alertness, all of which are crucial to maintain during exam season. We all know the famous saying ‘health is wealth’, so let us all channel our inner material girls and get wealthy by keeping our minds healthy.