Six Tips to Make Study More Bearable (and Effective)
Let’s be honest. Studying can suck. But it shouldn’t have to mean all-night cram sessions or 10-hour long stretches in the library with no toilet breaks. Here are six tips to help you get the most out of your study sessions – and keep your sanity intact.
1. Break it up
I think we can all agree that studying in one long stretch is hell boring, often resulting in delusional states and episodes of mild madness. And, if science is anything to go by (it often is!), it’s not the most effective way to study either. Your brain loses focus, your body loses energy and it is more difficult for you to retain new information. So, how should you study?
Try dividing your study periods into 90-minute blocks, and follow each with a short break (20 minutes or so). Why 90 minutes? Well, it’s got to do with what’s called your ultradian rhythm, the body’s 90-minute energy cycle. Although it’s most commonly talked about in relation to sleep patterns, this rhythm also impacts your waking life. So, banging out 90-minutes of study and then taking a break means you’re sticking more closely to your natural energy cycles. By doing this, you’re giving your body a chance to reset and renew, resulting in improved energy levels, greater concentration and people often mistaking you for the energiser bunny of studying.
Whether it’s a 20-minute walk around the garden, a ride on your bike or a yoga session in the park, a brief bit of exercise (preferably outside) is an awesome way to alleviate stress and recharge the batteries. Exercise not only releases endorphins (those natural hormones that make you feel so good), it increases blood flow to the brain, thus improving alertness and focus for when you return to the books. If you’re really stressed, punch away your frustrations with a quick boxing workout. It’s an awesome mood-booster and amazing for fitness too. Otherwise, if all fails, do as Elaine Benes does and dance with reckless abandon!
3. You havin’ a laugh (well, you should be)
There’s no denying assessments, exams and study can all be stressful and often leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. This is why it’s so important to have balance in your life and ensure the good times keep rollin’ despite the pressures. Making time for the things you enjoy in life is a must as it gives your mind a chance to unwind and recharge. It can also really help to ensure your mood stays positive and your vibes are chilled. Take a break, kick back and watch an episode of Mad Men or Doctor Who; sing along with your ukulele; or flick through the latest Cosmopolitan or Rolling Stone. Feel like a coffee? Don’t do it alone. Invite mates over for a catch-up or meet at your local and talk about anything other than uni (unless it’s in reference to the next party!). Or why not try out Laughter Yoga? Laughter really can be the best medicine.
4. Power nap time
Yep, sleep is encouraged! Power naps have been proven to improve creative problem solving, verbal memory (awesome if you’re one of those peeps who records lectures/tutes and listens to them back), motor skills, and perceptual, object and statistical learning. It can also help with logical reasoning and symbol recognition, as well as boost moods and reduce feelings of fatigue. And these are all reasons why companies such as Google, SalesForce, PWC and Saatchi & Saatchi have installed sleep pods in their workplaces. But try not to exceed 20 minutes or you’re more likely to wake up feeling bleary and dazed (known as sleep inertia).
5. Check out what the experts think
The Co-op has a great range of help books for uni students, covering everything from exam stress, group work, essay writing, communications skills and grammar. See them all in the links below:
6. Mix it up
Are you one of those people who reads and revises in the exact same spot when it’s study time? Well, some studies have shown that by alternating the environments you work can help improve data retention. So, give it a go and see what you think. Try your desk one day, move to the park or the library the next. Change is a good as a holiday – except for the fact you’re studying :/.