Life Learning

Thursday 18 September 2014

The Weekly Read: How to avoid a burnout this exam season

Blathin De Paor

Published 11/04/2014 | 20:03

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The longer evenings may be a source of joy to most, but for many around the country they signal only one thing: exam time is coming.

The longer evenings may be a source of joy to most, but for many around the country they signal only one thing: exam time is coming.

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At this time of year, exhausted students’ days consist of studying, cramming and coffee to get the last assignments finished and get ready for exams.

With so much going on it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and trying to be healthy seems like just another thing to add to the list.  However if you're not careful, all this stress can lead to burn out.

Thankfully there are some simple ways to beat the stress without too much effort, check them out and thank us later!

1. Mind your diet

When you’re exhausted it seems so much easier to just grab another ready meal, but letting your health fall to the bottom of the list will only worsen the situation. 

Eating well and getting your full quota of vitamins and minerals will keep your energy levels up and enable you to keep going.

Green vegetables and fresh fruit help to keep you alert and vitamin C in particular can aid with stress.

Heavy meals tend to make you feel tired and slow you down, so eating smaller meals more regularly will help you to stay focused.

Snacks like bananas and nuts are proven stress busters and will also provide sources of slow release energy preventing the crashes and low mood that often follow surgery snacks.

If necessary you may also think about supplementing your diet with a good multi vitamin to prevent you from getting run down.

2. Stay hydrated

To stay focused and prevent the tension headaches that often follow hours of studying it’s essential to stay hydrated.

Drink plenty of water throughout study and exams to prevent dehydration.

It’s also important to avoid too much coffee and stimulant drinks which can cause dehydration and disrupt your sleep.

3. Sleep

In order to increase your productivity, ability to learn and recall information, sleep is essential.

If you are finding it difficult to get a full night’s sleep, try taking small twenty minute naps during the day, which research has indicated can increase productivity.

The night before an exam it is crucial to get enough sleep to prevent you from being groggy and unable to focus the next day.  Try to finish up as early as possible the evening before, giving you time to wind down.

Switch off your electronic devices, as they keep your brain stimulated, preventing it from switching to rest mode.

Finally, avoid products containing caffeine and take a shower or bath before bed to help you relax. 

4. Have a break

Your brain can become fatigued after several hours of study so focus and retaining material becomes more difficult. Therefore it is essential to take regular breaks in order to make the most of your study time.

For every hour of study aim to take a short break, whether it’s to go and make a drink or get some fresh air, this short break will refresh and re energise you.

5. Get organised

With so much to achieve in a short space of time, some planning is required to avoid stress and prevent you from feeling completely overwhelmed.  Setting up a study schedule, having deadlines and a dedicated study area are small things that can make a massive difference to the end result.

Having a plan helps you to feel in control and with a list to follow you can tick things off as you complete them. This helps you to feel on track and knowing when you have fallen behind on the list can help prevent procrastination (I’m looking at you Facebook).

Having a plan also helps avoid last minute cramming which is usually counter-productive and sends your stress levels through the roof.

6. Exercise

Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress.  A small amount of exercise every day allows your body to produce endorphins - the feel good chemical.  While the more intensive the exercise, the better the result, even a short walk will help reduce stress. 

After a long study session your brain may feel tired but your body needs to move. Not only can the exercise be a welcome distraction but you’ll also feel better afterwards feeling ready to hit the books once again. The exercise will re-energise your tired mind, restore blood flow and help you sleep better that night.

7. It isn't forever

Most importantly remember that the stress you are feeling is temporary.  While there is no doubt the pressure felt can be extreme, don’t let it take over your life. Make the time to look after yourself and remember that you can only do the best that you can.

Good luck!

With thanks to campus.ie

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