Posted on 21 April 2017
Unsurprisingly, the best way to avoid getting overly stressed is to use your time wisely, get organised and start work well ahead of time.
There are many other things you can do to help yourself and developing some good habits will ensure you perform to the best of your ability.
The tips below are backed up by research - some of them may surprise you.
Psychologists say we can only concentrate properly for 30-45 minutes. There are lots of apps that help you take regular breaks. When you're on your break, do something completely different - move away from your desk, walk about, go to the loo or make a cup of tea!
Tempted to boost your energy levels with sugary snacks? Biscuits, chocolate and cake may give you an immediate rush of energy but you could soon come crashing down again. In addition, high blood sugar combined with mentally challenging tasks can increase your cortisol levels and impair your memory. By snacking on slow release high protein foods like yogurt, cheese, fruit and veg or nuts and seeds you can keep your blood sugar levels more even.
The human brain is about 85% water and it needs a steady supply to function properly. You will be more focussed and able to think faster with more creativity and clarity if you keep hydrated. (Note: drinking lots of water will also help you take more frequent breaks.)
Think about when and where you work best. Are you a morning person or do you work better in the evening? Do you find working in the Library productive or do you prefer to work somewhere else? Everybody is different and what works for someone else may not be right for you. There are lots of different study spaces available across the University. Find what works best for you.
Exercising is one of the quickest and most effective ways to de-stress. Regular exercise can actually help your brain work better. Fresh air will clear your head and perk you up, even a short walk will do.
Research shows there are strong links between sleep, learning and memory. You should aim for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Have trouble sleeping? There are lots of things you can do to help yourself. Our sleep web page explains the importance of sleep and gives tips on how to get a good night’s rest.
Relaxation is important for your mental and physical health. It helps you manage stress and anxiety. If you never take time to relax, your cortisol levels may continue to build and interfere with your learning and memory. Find activities that help you relax. It doesn’t have to be meditation. It could be a hot bath, watching a film, dancing or doing something creative. Schedule this down-time into your day.