The Dos And Don’ts Of Exam Prep: From What To Eat To How To Chill

Whilst we’ve all been told at some stage in our life that vegetables are good for us, is the new thing about ‘brain foods’ actually legit? And if it is, can what we eat really impact our success in exams?

We all know that doing exams can be a highly stressful experience, that often leads us to finding it hard to sleep and craving sugary snacks or ‘comfort food’. This is because we’re feeling tired, drained and, quite frankly, a little unhappy. What a catch-22 then that it could be the intake of these oh-so-tempting snacks that add to our stress and fatigue. But does eating ‘brain foods’ really work? The science indicates that it does.

Brainy squad

Leafy greens, berries and fatty fish are all up there with some of the top foods for boosting brain power and memory. Whilst these might not be what you’re craving when your knee-deep in revision, trying to incorporate them into your diet could really up your chances of achieving your potential. As revision and taking exams is so much about physical stamina too, foods that slow us down are a no-no. And whilst crisps, burgers and chocolate are enjoyable at the time, does anyone ever really feel great after indulging too much in them?

Some ‘brain foods’ are super easy to consume, such as spices, specifically turmeric and saffron. Both spices are said to reduce anxiety and stress, which are helpful, to say the least, when panic rises. Turmeric is a bit easier to use than saffron as it is a great (and tasty addition to smoothies). Other yummy, even ‘junky’ foods to snack on when on breaks and which take less time than even the fastest Deliveroo are yoghurts, toast with avocado as well as a handful of good old nuts. And last, thank goodness peanut butter sandwiches are so much healthier than what is commonly believed, so that is a no-brainer then.

Dealing with breaks

Then comes the question of revision breaks. Should you take them? How long for? And should they be scheduled and timed breaks, or should you do as you please? One of the best tips, and one that I’ve found has helped me the most personally, is to take a break to do something active. Whether it’s a walk, a run or even some star jumps on the spot; getting that blood flowing and the heart rate up is definitely a good thing when you’re sitting down for long periods of time. If you can, getting outside can also do wonders in terms of ‘refreshing the brain’ and working out with a friend can be a real game changer. Not only will this give you a proper break from revision through the social interaction, but also the exercise will really rejuvenate you.

Power naps?

Whilst some people recommend taking a nap, I have found personally that this is both hard to achieve (I’m not particularly good at falling asleep fast) and can lead to you feeling more irritated when you are suddenly woken up and have to go back to that Math revision after a wonderful slumber. I prefer to leave the sleeping to the end of the day and then give myself a good eight hours, but, of course, everyone is different, and napping could be the way forward for you.

But the most important Dos and Don’ts for revision? That is to realise that revision and exams don’t last forever and, that - even if it seems all a drag right now - once you are out at the other side with good exam results, that bout of partying will feel so much more deserved. And this is all just a few (ish) weeks away! So, hang in there, things will be fun again soon.

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