As exam time is looming, it's important to keep calm if you're a student or to keep your child calm if you're a parent. Below I've listed some simple tips that you can incorporate now into your or your child's routine:
The quality of your learning decreases rapidly when you’re stressed, a part of your brains fires to cause the 'flight or fight' reaction and one of the effects is to reduce your capacity for learning and memory. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to be one of the best forms of stress relief
When you’re studying or in the middle of an exam, if you start to feel stress, anxious or worried, stop and try any one or all of the following:
PNB: Pause: stop what you’re doing, put everything down. Notice: Your surroundings. What do you see, feel, hear, taste, and smell? What do you notice that you never noticed before? Be curious. Breathe: take a couple of long slow deep breaths.
Take breathing breaks – stop for 2 minutes, close your eyes and breathe in for a count of 4 hold for 4 out for 4
Have a mindful walk. Get out on fresh air and walk slowly, be aware of all the sights, sounds and smells. Place your attention on the feeling of your feet on the ground (walk barefoot if you can) and when your mind wanders keep bringing it back.
Practice Mindfulness: Download the Calm or Headspace apps and listen to one of the 10 minute practice.
By changing your breath in the above ways, you will change your physical state, which will result in cortisol (the stress hormone) being reduced the body (and mind) coming back to a calm state and its in this state that the brain can take in, process and remember information.
Therefore it's best to do these practices everyday for just 10 minutes before study time and not ad hoc. It will set you up for quality learning and not quantity.
Do 1 thing at a time, study 1 subject and 1 area of that subject at a time. Scientific research has shown that efficiency, performance, creativity and retention of data are all significantly reduced with multitasking.
Recognise your signs of stress and take a break when you notice them. Go outside, get some fresh air, get active. Look for something that relaxes you, it could be tea, reading a book, taking a bath/ a shower. Do that when you feel you can't concentrate.
Eat well: foods that are good for your brain - kiwis, fish with omega 3 (tuna, salmon), no fast food, no sugar.
At night time:
Turn off your phone when you’re going to bed. (Parents: you may need to take the phone off your child)
Remove any ipads, laptops or tablets from your room also.
If you’ve problems sleeping, listen to a body scan before going to sleep. You can listen to one I've recorded on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/OW5JaPbuedQ
If you wake up at night, do your own body scan by bringing your attention to different parts of your body from your toes to your head, notice what each part is feeling and sensing. Do this slowly and on your outbreath, relax that part of the body.
You need approx. 8 to 10 hours sleep, the sleep before midnight is a better quality than after so go to bed early and get up early rather than going to bed late and struggling to get up.
Clear your study space – create a calm environment. If your study are is messy it will affect your mind, so clear your desk and make it a place that you like to be in.
Best of luck!
Next 8 week Mindfulness course commences Tuesday 8th May at 7 to 8:30pm. Sign up here: https://www.xhale.ie/mindfulness-courses