MARIE MJACU 

Let’s face it – exams have snuckup on most of us. One moment we were living our best silly-season lives, and the next we were moving into the bib and using up our entire COB quota on coffee.

One thing is true for everyone though, and that is that exam dates won’t change. It’s time to knuckle down and get through it one last time before a well-deserved holiday.

Studying hard is obviously of utmost importance during the upcoming weeks. However, looking after yourself and your mental health will ensure that you go into those exams and really do your best.

It’s also very easy to burn-out during exam time if you don’t take your health seriously. It sounds clichéd, but a happy body and mind are the keys to success, let’snot let our lifestyles fall apart during exams. Let’s get through this with these handy tips:

1. Curb the coffee

Don’t freak out, but drinking excessive amounts of coffee during exam time isn’t a good idea. We drink coffee as a pick me up, and so naturally having several pick- me-ups in quick succession isn’t good for you. The caffeine in coffee does give that little boost, but too much of it just increases your heart rate and can make it even harder to focus. Try to set yourself a limit on how many cups of coffee you drink a day and plan them for the beginning or middle of your study session so as to optimise on that caffeine rush.

2. Time to work and time to rest

Sleep is so important! There is a very dangerous culture on campus that seems to celebrate pulling all-nighters before big tests or exams – this is a problem. Being well-rested is important if you want to have a productive day and a successful exam. The easiest way to do this is by trying to routinize your sleepingpattern as much as possible. We all go a bit haywire during the year but exams really are a good chance to work out a sleeping routine and stick to it – you’ll thank me later.

3. Give your brain a break

There comes a point when studying is no longer productive, and when that happens you need a brain break. For most people, the average time they can focus is from 45 minutes to an hour and then it becomes harder for their brains to retain information effectively. Inserting 10 to 15 minute breaks between your hours of studying will make the time you do spend studying more effective and focused.

4. Find your friends

Everyone’s doing their own thing during exams. We’re all trying to pass and go home as soon as possible and that can often become an isolating experience. Stressful times are when you need your friends the most, so make sure you check-in and find out how they’re doing. Take your study breaks together and challenge yourselves to talk about anything but exams just to have a break and relax for a moment. It’s a small thing, but it’ll make a world of difference. Exams are a time of heightened stress levels, but they are manageable if you actively look after yourself during the upcoming weeks. Stay hydrated (on water as well as coffee). Especially in the Stellenbosch heat. Water is vital for a sound mind. Get enough sleep and plan your time well to pass through the coming weeks as painlessly as possible.

Good luck! You got this.

PHOTO: HELÉNE LEONARD