For those of you with November exams, I’m sure you are deep into revision and perhaps feeling a little overwhelmed and exhausted. It can be easy to put your health to one side when faced with something as intimidating as IB exams. BUT, it’s more important than ever for you take care of yourself and your mental health. Just taking a little time each day to dedicate to yourself can make an immense difference to how positive and motivated you are. The more positive you are, the more productive you’ll be able to be during your study sessions – it’s a win/win! With this in mind, I want to share some of my simple ideas to keep your spirits up during examinations.
Treat Yo Self
Make a resolution to treat yourself to something that might brighten your mood each day. If there ever were a time to treat yourself, it’s now – you’re working so hard! These resolutions can be as tiny as buying yourself a mocha latte before class or having that bubble-bath you’ve been dreaming about all week. All the small things which brighten your mood will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel!
Remembering to Sleep
Sleep – “what a waste of time,” you think as you try to cram Biology HL Chapter 2: Molecular Biology at 3 am, whilst downing yet another cup of coffee. However, sleep is by no means a waste of time. Your brain is far from idle when sleeping; it’s actually only when you sleep that information is processed from your hippocampus (short-term memory) to your cortex (long-term memory). In other words, it is only when you are sleeping that your brain begins to cement facts that you’ve learned throughout the day. Furthermore, if you’re sleeping too little, the neurons in your brain don’t fire optimally. This makes it more difficult for you to retrieve information and focus during your study sessions. With all this in mind, try to aim for 7-8 hours each night (the medically recommended amount).
Split your studying environment and sleeping environment
What happens if you are trying to sleep but you can’t find any peace? Your environment will affect how efficient you are at completing the task at hand. If you associate your bedroom with studying, rather than sleeping, you might feel anxious and filled with study-related thoughts just as you’re about to close your eyes. I personally struggled a lot with this during IB exams. I quickly decided to split my work and relax environment. Instead of studying in my bedroom, I would try to work at a public library or at my kitchen table. This meant that when I returned to my bedroom I could completely relax and get out of the work mindset.
Take time to see your friends, even when it seems impossible!
Remember, you aren’t alone in trying to complete this last and final IB hurdle – your friends and classmates are in the exact same situation as you are! Unlike parents, coordinators and teachers, friends and classmates will be able to actually understand what is going through your head. Making time for your friends is incredibly important to make sure you keep up with your social life; however, a lot of people feel they have to make a choice between school and friends. That doesn’t have to be the case – forming study groups can be a great way to interact with your friends. For my exams, my history class made a study group which used to meet every Monday during our free period. During that time, we’d revise notes, flashcards and talk through difficult concepts. By revising in a more relaxed atmosphere, with the occasional history related meme, it really helped me relax and not feel guilty about having a less intense study session every once in awhile.
Remember – you can do this, and your mental health will always be more important than a grade on a paper!!