Lockdown is hard enough, so working to university deadlines understandably adds another challenge to the mix. There is no perfect way to manage this situation, but there are perhaps ways to make it easier on yourself. These are my top tips on how to cope during this bizarre time.
Learn in your own way
There is no one size fits all approach to learning. We all have different learning styles, so ensure you are studying in the way that is most effective for you. Perhaps this is obsessively re-writing notes, maybe it’s drawing diagrams or it could be writing a song about your subject to remember key facts. If you don’t know your specific learning style maybe try a few different approaches and see which resonates most strongly with you.
Procrastination is real! It can waste hours of your time before you even realise you’ve fallen prey to it. One way to tackle this is to switch up your surroundings. Spend part of the day at your desk and then, switch to your lounge or garden if possible. If the solitude of revision is driving you mad, you may want to recruit some friends to help – virtually of course! You may even want to try creating an online study group and revising with friends. This will help keep you motivated while also providing moral support and regular touchpoints for pop quizzes.
Self-care is vital
Deadline season is an incredibly stressful time and can sometimes impact students’ mental health. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, this is further amplified with the stresses that come with lockdown. It is easy to justify pushing yourself too hard during this time, but it’s important to remember to look after your health and wellbeing.
Self-care during deadlines isn’t limited to getting your eight hours of sleep each day; diet is also critical. It is too easy to slip into bad diet routines whilst studying; munching on biscuits, sandwiches and guzzling energy drinks is unsurprisingly not the key to sustained concentration. For a caffeine boost try green tea instead, it is full of antioxidants and won’t send you crashing like coffee or sugary energy drinks will. Water is also a must; aim to get your full two litres each day. Try fruit, nuts or even dark chocolate as a snack instead of the unhealthy alternatives. For main meals, focus on protein rich foods and foods high in Omega 3. A healthy diet will help improve your brain function and stop you feeling lethargic throughout the day.
Exercise is also key to maintaining a healthy mind throughout the revision period. Whether it is yoga in your bedroom or your one designated exercise outing for the day, make sure you are incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Going for a walk is also great way to ensure you are getting time away from your screen – if you would rather avoid leaving the house during this time, maybe try meditation or doing the crossword. It gives your brain the space it needs to process the information it has just been bombarded with.
Try to create a timetable of your studying hours and be sure to incorporate set breaks. You need to map out when you are going to study what, so you don’t end up focusing on one subject area and neglecting another. In the exam malaise it is easy to over focus on topics you find harder and completely neglect the ones you feel more comfortable with (or maybe vice versa). Begin by allocating equal time to each topic and then once you have a grasp on exactly what areas you are lagging behind in, begin to carve out a little more time for them.
But remember, above all else – look after yourself! This is a challenging time so it is even more important to regularly check in with yourself and develop a study routine that best supports you.