During exam season, sometimes your general wellbeing gets put on hold for the sake of a deadline but unless your deadline is the next day, I really don’t recommend this method. Sure, revision productivity is great, but taking care of yourself should also be a priority during these times – if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to produce your best quality of work. As a Master’s student, I have learnt this the hard way and I’m here to share my top tips on how to look after yourself this January.
My biggest advice is to treat university work like a 9-5 job. This allows you to have your evenings free to relax, whilst ensuring that you can still get a good night’s sleep. Alongside this, if you’re working for the majority of the working week, you can take the weekends off to recharge. Being productive whilst having evenings and weekends off? Sign me up! I know that some weekends you may have to do university work, but I personally try to keep my weekends clear so that I can do things that I enjoy, as it prevents burnout. Plus, who likes to work on weekends?
Just because you’re working 9-5 doesn’t mean that you must wait until lunch to have a break though! For every hour of work, have a 20-minute break to keep your motivation high. Regular breaks prevent burnout from happening and are highly recommended to keep productivity high. If you’re someone who struggles to keep off their phone, I can’t recommend the Forest app enough. It’s free to download (although you can have in-app purchases, but we don’t want to do that!) and you can set a timer for your productivity. Once you’ve stayed off your phone, it rewards you by growing a tree in your forest. It may sound childish, but it works wonders. You don’t want your trees to die, do you? You can also connect with friends and monitor their forests, and it can get pretty competitive.
I’ve mainly discussed how to stay productive without getting burnt out, but I cannot stress how important taking the time to wind-down can really improve your mental health during stressful exam seasons. Self-care seems like a buzzword at this point, but it’s so crucial to your overall wellbeing. Everyone has their own version of ‘self-care’, and this can be whatever works for you! Treating yourself to a takeaway, putting on a face mask, going to the gym, or even just taking a short stroll to get some fresh air. Find what makes you happy to stay refreshed, recharged, and ready to continue your work without feeling burnt out. Personally, things like yoga don’t work for me, but there’s something for everyone.
Finally, if you struggle from anxiety or need helping calming down, the Headspace or Calm app can also really be beneficial. I’m pretty sure Headspace is free for people with a student Spotify account too! On these apps you can find tips and tricks on how to tackle the worry that builds up at exams season. This may be through meditation or watching a short video – there’s so many different ways to experience and enjoy these apps. Honestly, if I use Headspace before bed I usually fall asleep mid-meditation and get a pretty good night’s sleep. It might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I find it really relaxes me.
I hope everyone’s exam season goes well, and that you can use some of my tricks in order to still be able to have a nice break whilst maintaining productivity. Exam results don’t define you, and if you need extra support then definitely contact the university for guidance. Good luck everyone!