Sometimes you may feel like there are just too many resources or too much to study. Just too much you need to do. Feeling overwhelmed may make it seem impossible to know where to begin. Difficult situations are however, opportunities to be our best selves, hone our skills and rise to the occasion.
New research by Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby, has uncovered exactly how acute stress – short-lived, not chronic – primes the brain for improved performance. According to Kaufer, “You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not. Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.”
So, now that you know stress can be good…… The best place to start is to Take a Deep Breath.
Breathing is the quickest and easiest way to relieve tension in your body and your mind. By taking deliberately deep, slow breaths your body undergoes a relaxation response- your heart rate slows down, your muscles relax, and your blood pressure drops.
There are several ways to relieve study stress and boost your learning potential.
Here are some suggestions:
Keep breathing and stretching as you study
Keep stretching to relieve the physical tension in your body. Take regular breaks to stand up and to stretch.
For peace of mind, as you take in a deep and satisfying breath, remind yourself that there are many reliable and reputable resources available to help you through this studying process. As you exhale, release what you have no control over and know you are doing the best you can. Anytime stress begins to creep up, remember to breathe.
A key source of stress is a perceived lack of control over a situation. To help you feel in control, stay organized. Time management is key. To get the most out of your study time, make it as stress-free as possible by creating a study timetable. First, make a list of everything you need to do, as you would a study schedule. Note what topics or domains you are having the most difficulty understanding. It is tempting to write down the topics that come easily to you but spending time on these topics isn’t really necessary. After taking these quick steps, you will find you have a plan laid out, freeing you from the frenzied thoughts circling in your head. You are now free to focus more fully on your priorities. Keeping yourself on schedule will help you stay on track and you will be the best prepared for the exam.
Look after yourself
A balanced diet, exercise, sleep and time to have fun are all equally important to keep you going and primed for studying.
By paying more attention to yourself and to the world around you, is being “in the moment”. This is known to reduce stress, and helps us to notice the signs of stress earlier.
Support is essential
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious about your studies and exams, the pressure can feel overwhelming. A really great way to cope with this situation is to talk to someone about what you are going through. By voicing your concerns, you will feel so much better and you will have newfound focus and determination.
Remember that a tutor can be a great source of support. Talking to someone who has been in the same situation as you are currently in, can help you feel that you aren’t alone. If you ever need help breaking down questions or increasing your critical thinking, you can reach out to your tutor, who is there to meet your needs and to help you ensure that you succeed.