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How to keep focused in the run up to exams

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During exam time, sleep can become an impossible endeavour, while nutritional diets are scrapped for take-out and we choose to stress at home over socialising with friends. This only makes the experience more stressful, especially as none of these things help you concentrate. In fact, they often lead to the complete opposite!

Don’t worry though, as we’ve come up with a list of ways you can stop stressing and stay focused this exam season.

1. Stay away from social media

A good way to do this is by hiding your phone, as you are unlikely to get much work done when it is constantly buzzing with texts and notifications. Even when it is silent, you can still be distracted by its presence as it promises an escape from work, with social media and internet allowing you to take pointless quizzes instead.

Unfortunately, this is not always enough, as technology is often connected nowadays. Even if your phone is hidden, notifications can still pop up on your laptop screen, diverting your attention away from that important essay or book you were reading. It is best to sign out of your social media accounts just to be safe, at least until after your exams are over.

2. Work at times that are best for you

There is no point sitting down and trying to work in the morning if you know that you will be tired and easily distracted. Similarly, it is foolish to leave work until the end of the day if you know that is when you get weary and your work ethic slips. Just because that time of day works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Instead, choose to work at times when you know you will be at your peak performance. It is much better to get solid work done during the few hours that suit you rather than sit for an entire day disappointed with yourself because you didn't achieve much.

For the majority of people, 12-4pm is the peak distraction time, with the brain especially unwilling to co-operate at 2pm. Meanwhile we handle tough cognitive work best in the late morning, as we have had a chance to shake off the drowsiness and eat.

3. Take breaks

No matter how important the exam or how little time you have left to study for it, there is no point trying to spend the entire day cramming information into your brain. You will likely only end up tired and irritated with yourself. It is much better to take regular breaks so that your mind can rest and you can recharge, especially as recent studies suggest adults can concentrate for a maximum of 20 minutes.

Have a half hour dance session in your room, pop out to the gym, watch a movie or grab some food. Whatever you do, taking a step away from intense research will actually help your studying in the long term.

Whether you are cramming for an exam or have plenty of time to revise, it is important to include breaks in your study schedule. As such, it is best to make a study plan in which you choose which subjects you will study on each day. It helps lessen the workload and makes revision less intimidating, while also helping you get breaks by including them in the plan.

4.  Take extra vitamins

Eating a nutritional diet is always an important way to improve health and energy levels. However, it is not just your body that needs to be fed. Your brain also needs food to keep it healthy and efficient, which is where vitamins come into the equation.

Your brain needs a range of nutrients to work properly. Having an unhealthy diet or being dehydrated can affect (mental and) cognitive performance.

Vitabiotics Neurozan provides a comprehensive formula for all round health and also important nutrients to help contribute to normal cognitive function.

It is available in the UK and can be found at Boots, Holland & Barrett, independent pharmacies and health food stores and online.

5. Reward yourself

A good way to work through distractions is by giving yourself rewards. This might be a ten minute break or a piece of chocolate every hour. Whatever works for you to stay focused on the task at hand.

Additionally, it is helpful to have a reward waiting for when the exam is finished, as it will improve the experience of revision, thus making it easier to dedicate time and focus next exam season.

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