Exam season can be rather stressful, especially if you are studying for a stressful exam like the USLME. Balancing your work while protecting you mental health is not always easy. If you are feeling lost and frustrated, there are a few ways in which you can improve your mental health while studying. Here are a few tips and tricks to combat stress and the blues while you hit the books.
1. Join a group study session
Studying while isolated can sometimes result in procrastination and delaying your studies may only add to your stress. One effective tip is to study with a few friends online. You can give each other practice quizzes or get someone else to grade your work. Online study groups are also good reminders that you are not on your own.
2. Set small achievable goals
Whether you are climbing a mountain or doing something simple like taking the garbage out, fulfilling a goal you set for yourself is extremely rewarding. You can set small, achievable goals for your study sessions and tick them off your list as they are completed. When we create goals (and complete them to our expectations), it helps us to have more control over our lives and reduces stress. For challenging exams like the USLME, you can set goals during your preparation such as taking the USLME prep course.
It is always helpful to write down your goals and identify the tools and strategies you need to reach them. A few things you may need for your study sessions are listed below:
✔ Water to stay hydrated
✔ Food that has already been prepared or cooked
✔ Scheduled breaks so you can take a breather and get a little sun
✔ Having all your study materials within reach
3. Make Use of Your Phone
Yes, you read it right. Your phone can help you study as long as you don’t spend all your time browsing through Instagram or viewing cat clips on YouTube. Use your cell phone to download applications that will help you to sharpen your mental game.
A few of my favorites apps that help me focus are:
Calm – Soothing self-reflection and consciousness to help with nervousness. Download: iOS | Android
Lantern – Methods to help you with stress, attitude, sleep patterns and your social activity. Download:iOS | Android
SAM (The Self Help for Anxiety Management app) – Exactly as its name indicates. Download: iOS | Android
4. Take time out and get sufficient rest
Taking breaks is vitally important to productive studying. Research shows that getting a break from studying every ninety minutes or so can enhance both concentration and attentiveness. A great study break may include activities that get your mind off your work temporarily. So you can try doing a few things that you enjoy that will not take up a lot of time. After unwinding for a bit, you are more likely to be calmer, more rejuvenated, and more focused for your next study session.
5. Encircle yourself with positive thinking
Your approach can be as simple as keeping a picture of the people that you love on your writing desk, placing notes with words of inspiration all over your room, or reading inspirational blog posts and pages before you study. Even if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety issue, you can get helpful tips from a number of helpful mental health resources on the internet.
Some cool websites I like to follow include:
Let’s Talk About Mental Health – This organization is trying to remove the social stigma associated with mental illness
Buddy Project – This is a non-profit organization that unites individuals with mental health issues
Wholesome Comics – A Facebook page devoted to circulating positivity, via entertaining comics, photographs, and witty memes.
6. Eat a healthy diet
I know that ramen noodles are an iconic part of school life so I am not telling you to stay away from noodles altogether. But you do need to get your fruits and vegetables in as well. A healthy diet will give you the macro and micro nutrients you need to keep your brain functioning at optimum levels for longer periods of time. remain on track psychologically. While eating fresh, raw fruits and vegetables is great, you don’t necessarily have to eat salads all the time. Here is a list of fast, healthy meals you can cook on a budget:
Jamie Oliver’s Student-friendly Meals
Taste’s Easy Recipes for Students
7. Talk to Someone You Trust
Say it after me: Looking for help is a mark of strength.
If you are experiencing mental or emotional issues, you can always ask someone you trust for advice and assistance. If you feel like you don’t have anyone available, don’t be afraid to contact student counseling or your local mental health center. Many provisions are in place to help you get through your studies successfully, including online therapy. If needed, a licensed therapist can help you to manage your stress and reach your academic goals.
Image by Наталия Когут from Pixabay