When revising for exams, we often underestimate just how much mental and emotional strain we put ourselves through to get the results we want. Sometimes our mental health can suffer because of unhealthy revision habits, and we can compromise our performance because of this.
My aim is to provide some tips for healthy revision that don’t actually involve revision itself. Everyone studies differently, but we should all remember to look after ourselves, especially when under stressful revision schedules.
Organise first, then work
The foremost way to ease stress when revising is to have a plan. You don’t need to be revising every hour of every day, in fact, I’d advise you not to!
Creating a revision schedule can be as simple as following your regular lesson timetable. This has the added benefit of being a pre-established routine, so you don’t feel like revision is such a massive change of pace and workload.
Sticking to your lesson timetable ensures you have regular, scheduled breaks. It also makes sure your study periods don’t exceed the amount of time your brain is actually studying effectively for. This way your time is used as effectively as possible.
Once you have a routine in place, revision will run more smoothly because you don’t have to worry about how you’re managing your time – you’re already organised!
Taking breaks from studying is just as important as studying itself! When we take regular breaks, we prevent burnout and improve our overall performance.
When we get into the rhythm of studying sometimes it’s difficult to stop ourselves. This is why sticking to your schedule and setting time limits is crucial. With practice, you’ll learn to complete your revision goals in the time you set yourself, and therefore practice time management skills for exams, where time is of the essence.
Make sure your breaks are actually breaks!
The best way to make sure your break is effective is by moving to a different space. By this, I mean literally moving from your desk to a different room or even going outside.
A change of scene will help you associate particular spaces with particular mindsets, so your study place doesn’t become confused with your rest space. Studying on your bed might be comfortable, but the temptation to fall asleep is very strong!
You can also use this time to eat something and have a drink. I’d recommend having a water bottle with you when you’re working. Revising might be tough on the brain, but your body will also feel the effects of your hard work, so be kind to it!
Mindfulness is a really effective strategy for reducing stress and anxiety. You might already have some mindfulness strategies you use, but here are a few of my favourites:
Being outside, or looking out of the window if you prefer, takes your mind away from your screens and books and has a deeply calming effect. Breathe deeply, look at the sky, notice shapes or colours, and allow your mind to go blank.
Colouring in and doodling might sound silly but it’s a great break from the intense brain activity needed for revision.
This doesn’t have to be intense exercise. It can be as simple as a walk around your home, around the block, up and down your street. Movement takes your mind off work and gets oxygen into your body, helping you to focus and avoid burnout. It’s also an opportunity for cloud-gazing!
Be kind to yourself, and good luck!
Revising can be really stressful, but there are ways to make it easier. Looking after ourselves during a stressful time often becomes sidelined but in reality, it’s probably the thing we should be focusing on most!
I hope these tips have given you some ideas about how to manage revision stresses. Even if these tips don’t work for you, I hope you go on to think about looking after yourself whilst revising.
Happy, healthy minds produce results you can be proud of.
Best of luck with any upcoming exams!
Read more student tips for revision and exams