Posted on 23 April 2018
Developing good study 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, take a short walk or make a cup of tea.
Biscuits and chocolate may give you an immediate rush of energy but 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 yoghurt, cheese, fruit, 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 somewhere else? 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 - aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Have trouble sleeping? There are lots of things you can do to help yourself. Our information on sleep has advice on how to get a good night’s rest.
Relaxation is important to help you manage stress and anxiety. If you never relax, your cortisol levels may continue to build and interfere with your learning and memory. Try a hot bath, watching a film, dancing, meditation, or doing something creative. Schedule this down-time into your day.
- Psych Central – Taking breaks found to improve attention
- Harvard Business Review – What you eat affects your productivity
- The Globe and Mail – How drinking more water may boost your short-term memory
- In the Loop – Day vs Night: when is the best time to study and why?
- Harvard Medical School – Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills
- Harvard Medical School – Sleep, learning and memory
- ReachOut – Why is it important to relax
- Psychology Today – Cortisol: why the stress hormone is public enemy No 1