I have more than a few memories of myself in college looking like a mad scientist, up until 3 a.m., drinking coffee that isn't working anymore, and desperately trying to reread all the assigned texts I for my Lit exam. By the time the test rolled around, the only thing my body was really prepared for was a long nap, and by the time I finished that last question on the exam, I was totally wiped out. Looking back, I really wish I had learned how to de-stress before a test, because it would have saved me a whole lot of struggle, and probably would have really improved my performance on those exams.
I also remember that when people told me to "just relax" before a test, it only made me feel more stressed, because on top of the pressure of studying and learning all the necessary information, I was actually worried about how stressed I was. To say the least, it can be in an inescapable and brutal cycle.
But trust me, while it can feel impossible to reign in your stress when school pressures run high, it's important to remember that stress really doesn't add anything positive to the situation you're in, and won't help you ace the test or slam-dunk that paper you're working on.
So remember to look out for number one, and that your health — both mental and physical — is the most important thing of all. Learning how to de-stress and find some inner calm while you study will have you skating into those exams like a total boss. Here are a few ways to chill out as you prepare for your exam.
Essential oils are liquids extracted from plants that contain volatile aroma compounds (which is a fancy way of saying they simply have really strong scents).
Basically, these scents are thought to have healing properties for the body, mind, and spirit.
Diffuse oils like lavender, rose, and vetiver near your desk for a calming effect while you finish that paper on 18th century romantic literature.
Whether it's after another round of flash cards when your brain feels too fuzzy to study, or even first thing the morning of the test to get the jitters out, try to get your heart pumping and the blood flowing just a little bit.
TBH, I highly recommend this Jane Fonda workout video, because not only is it going to get you moving, but the over-the-top nature of it will probably put a smile on your face when you need it most.
But for real, you can move in any way that feels good for you. Whether you decide to work out along with Jane Fonda, or you do some jumping jacks in your dorm, or you simply go for a quick jog to the most beautiful spot on campus, it's all good stuff for the body and the mind.
If you think it's all BS and a waste of your time, think again. Science says a bout of exercise will not only release tension in the body, but it'll also increase blood flow to the brain, which can actually help to sharpen your memory.
While you should definitely take a break between studying sessions for full meals, it's just as important to keep healthy snacks nearby when you take a break from working.
I know for me, if I stop every now and then to prepare a snack (rather than just power through studying with some Sour Patch Kids or a granola bar), it gives me a minute to collect my thoughts and just, you know, relax.
Cut up an apple and pair it with some almond butter, or make a little plate of crackers and cheese to satisfy your taste buds.
Sit down for five minutes, and genuinely enjoy yourself while you eat. You deserve it with all that hard work, after all.
I often get distracted with lyrics when I'm trying to write or work, but that's just me. Nothing soothes me quite like a little Bach, and music in general is shown to positively affect your brain power.
Even if it's usually not your jam, give a little classical music a shot! You might be surprised at the effect it has on you.
While it might feel like the last thing on earth you have time for is sitting still and doing absolutely nothing, try a three- or five-minute meditation. If you're struggling to focus, or need your thoughts to slow down, try one meant to help those issues in particular.
Trust me, the importance of taking time for self-care, especially when stress runs high, cannot be understated. Nourish your mind and body with the attention and care you deserve — and best of luck on your exam!