There comes a time about every two months, when UB and all other libraries and study places are full of desperate students, trying to finish assignments of 50 pages, read 21 articles and 2 books and get the content of a whole block into their heads within 2 days. There’s lots of yawning, groaning and sometimes crying, sore backs and necks, pounding headaches and tired eyes. In short, misery and desperation everywhere around. And even though everyone always tells us to just start a bit earlier with studying and keep on track the whole block, let’s be honest, this is not how student life works…
So here are a few tips and trick on how to decrease the misery a bit, even though you only started studying just in exam week and are now drowning in work!
I often hear students say that in exam phase, they only eat pasta with pesto or order pizza; just anything that is quick and doesn’t make you ‘waste’ time on preparing food. In my opinion, no time spent on food is wasted! Without proper fuel, how do you expect the cells of your brain to work? Please take your time and prepare a fresh meal at least every other day; you can also meal prep and put some portions in the freezer for later, but make sure to get your vitamins and healthy fats and all that good stuff if you want to be productive.
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times already, but I will still mention it as well: drinking enough water is crucial for your health and well-being. Just bring a bottle with you to the library, put it on your desk next to your study stuff and set a time until when you want to have the bottle emptied. Then use this occasion to get up, take a little walk to a bathroom on the next floor to get moving and fill up your bottle.
Just as important as a good nutrition is enough sleep. While we’re sleeping, our body recovers from what we did during the day, and our brain – and this is important for studying – repeats all the input it got and all the new stuff it learned. To effectively do this, we need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Power naps of about 10 to 20 minutes can also help, longer ones probably won’t help increasing your productivity.
Back and neck
Maybe you’ve heard the saying ‘sitting is the new smoking’ before. And you’ve probably noticed your back hurting more in exam phase, when you’re sitting for long time and most days. A quick help for this is the catchy phrase: the best position is your next position; meaning that changing positions about every 5 minutes will help you decreasing back and neck aches. Usually, this happens automatically, but if you’re reading a very interesting article, you might remain in the same position for a good hour, ignoring the urge to move.
But not only for your spine sitting for long periods of time can be problematic, the same goes for your cardiorespiratory system. The risk for heart diseases increases with immobility, ventilation of your lungs isn’t as good – there are many reasons promoting a little walk in between study sessions.
Eyes and Headaches
When your eyes get blurry and tired, and you develop a headache from staring at the screen of your laptop for too long, give your eyes and head a break. Close your eyes for about 10 seconds, then focus on something that’s far away and then on something close to you. Repeat this for a few times. Apparently, yawning also helps, or closing the eyes and then imagining a figure 8 and following that with your eyes. Going outside also always helps with headaches and having natural light will feel good for your eyes as well.
In short, it’s important to take regular breaks, eat and sleep well and spend some time outside every day, breathing in fresh air and moving a bit. Setting a timer for about 40 to 60 minutes of studying and taking an (active) break of about 5 – 10 minutes afterwards will definitely make your study times less painful and maybe even more effective!