Sheena Ramchurn is a second year BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing student at Birmingham City University.

No one likes exams and no one likes exams especially when they fall right during the Christmas holidays. If you’re trapped in a blizzard of exam stress this winter, read on for my tips of releasing the pressure!

Ensure you’re getting enough sleep

The minimum amount of sleep required for adults to function well is eight hours! If you’re up late at night cramming, this will give you an excuse to sleep in!

Sleep allows new pathways to form between the brain and for anything you learned during the day to become better ingrained into your memory. Aka sleeping will actually help you become smarter!

Also, it might be helpful to take a one to two hour nap during the day! Did you know it was common for people to take naps during the day, with shops and offices even closing for a brief period so its employees could sleep? This was before the Industrial Revolution got us working like mules though…

Eat and drink properly

I know with all the Christmas food around it can be hard to remember to put something healthy down you once in a while. Take a break from the roast potatoes and puddings and go for some fruit during the day and most definitely a glass of water! Eating well will your body and brain what it needs to stay sharp.

Avoid foods with high amounts of sugar and caffeine such as fizzy drinks and coffee as these lead to poor brain performance.

Take a break

Studies have shown that cramming is actually one of the least effective ways to revise. A better way would be to split your revision into chunks of 45 minutes. During this time, study hard and try to learn at least one concept in a fair amount of detail. After this time period, take a 10 minute break. Look away from your laptop and drop those pens.

Take a quick walk, get up and stretch, flick through Facebook or have a quick chat to get some positive vibes. Whatever it is you do, when you come back to the books you will be feeling refreshed and ready!

Hobbies

Take time out from revising to indulge in a hobby from time to time. It can be a quick game of football, a good gaming session, or a few chapters of your favourite book. If you’re feeling particularly drained, then just wrap up warm, get on the couch and turn on Netflix. Just remember to treat yourself to a bit of me-time fun and banish the nagging exam stress.

Exercise

It’s well known that exercise is one of the best ways to get people motivated. Go for a walk, a jog or try your hand at yoga. Exercise will help reduce stress by releasing a plethora of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Not only that, but it will promote cell growth in the hippocampus, the area responsible for learning. Just like sleep, exercise will actually make you smarter.

Talk to your friends

Your friends are all probably going through the same thing right now or at least something similar. Talking to your friends, maybe even venting a little, will help get some of the stress out of your system and perk you up with good social vibes.

Study with friends

As long as you’re all disciplined about it, study groups can actually be extremely beneficial to your studies. It reduces stress by laying out all the burdens on multiple shoulders so that problems and difficult concepts can be tackled as a team. Not only that, but even though you’re revising, just being in the company of your friends and peers can reduce stress levels, and who knows, it might even be fun!

Quiet time

Turn off your Facebook and Twitter app, leave your phone on silent and close the laptop. Indulging in some quiet me-time can help give your mind and body a break, reducing stress levels and helping you to refocus.

Take a long, hot bath or lie back and listen to some music. Maybe just even sit there. As long as you’re not exerting yourself, this will give you some peace and quiet so that when you do go back to the books, you’ll feel more invigorated and ready to achieve.

Enjoy the Christmas holidays

Make the most of the time of the year! Enjoy the food, the presents and the re-runs of Harry Potter. Whatever you do on Christmas day, make sure it isn’t study! It might seem like your exam or essay is the main focus of your life right now, but take care not let it completely take over your life! Christmas is your day off – textbooks have no place there!

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