- Have regular breaks. Siting in one spot for a long time is not ideal for your body. We need to move so make sure you have regular breaks. When I was going through exams, I used to set a stop watch to make sure I had my breaks, this kept my mind fresh but also minimized the negative effects of sitting.
- Move regularly. Having regular breaks is vitally important for good function. During the periods of actual study, moving regularly can also be beneficial. What do I mean by this? Well, rather than sitting in one spot for prolonged time, try standing for a few minutes, or move to the edge of your seat for a while. Alternatively, you can try half kneeling and tall kneeling for a few minutes. These are great exercises that make you use the correct postural muscles, in particular the Glutes that often get weak from prolonged sitting. You can incorporate the kneeling by simply doing it in front of your desk for a few minutes. Try it and see how your Glutes fire up and how you get a great stretch in the hip flexors. I love these exercises. The two kneeling positions can be seen in the photos below.
- Drink plenty of water. This keeps you hydrated and the body working well.
- Make sure you eat properly. A good diet is essential for good brain function. Make sure you are having regular meals and eating good brain food like fish, nuts and seeds. Talk to a nutritionist for the best examples.
- Exercise. Exercise has great benefits for the body, but also has benefits for the brain. Here are some links to previous posts I have written on this. A study from Otago found that women who exercised regular performed better in cognitive tests (read it here). Exercise has been found to increase the grey matter of your brain (read it here). Exercise has also been shown to increase your memory and creativity.
- When exercising don’t overdo it. A recent study from the University of Missouri has found that the increased stress levels associated with exams also leads to injuries in their athletes. Researchers found that the athletes were 3.19 times more likely to injure themselves during periods of high academic stress.
- Visit a chiropractor. If you have aches and pains associated with studying and being bent over books all day, it may be worthwhile having a chiropractic check-up to make sure you are in tip top shape. I know I can’t focus well if I am uncomfortable.
- A quiet room works best. Several studies have looked at the effect of music on cognitive function. The studies have shown that people scored better in a quiet room than if there was background noise or music. If you are listening to music then quiet sedative type music is better than stimulating music. They found that if you listen to music you like, it proves to be more of a distraction than other music types. I found this quite interesting so I thought I would include it in my list.
There you have my top 8 tips for functioning well during exams. They are all simple to do but are all very important. Hopefully by trying some of these you will be able to study well and ultimately get great results.