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Four top tips to destress this revision period

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A recent survey by Ryman's found that students are increasingly stressed about their deadlines, no matter how studious they might be.

Their study, which surveyed more than 8,000 students, found that 64% of young people prepare well, dedicating more than a month to revising. However, 61% said that they were feeling stressed out about their exams, and of those, 74% said that the biggest pressure came from themselves – much more than from their school or their parents. Only 9% said they were feeling no stress about upcoming exams!

Surprisingly, only 6% of students admitted that they didn't prepare, while coping mechanisms for those who were stressed differed between the genders. In fact, 56% of women said they turn to food to help cope with the stress, while 53% of males would rather sit in front of the TV to take their minds off exam pressure. 

While we might imagine revision to look like stressed students losing their mind behind textbooks, 67% of students actually use their mobile phones to revise. Additionally, 53% of students admitted they spend up to two hours a day on leisure activities such as going on social media or playing video games whilst revising. Meanwhile, 56% of Millenials and 63% of Gen Z's turn to social media for revision help. Overall, 97% of those surveyed said they keep up to date with their feeds during revision.

When it comes to self-belief, just 11% were confident that they would get the grades they wanted; the remaining 89% suffered realistic concerns that they would fail. While it’s perhaps reassuring that the majority of these worriers will exceed their expectations (pass rates for GCSE are around 66%, and around 35% of A-Level students achieve a grade A or A*), it’s concerning that young people seem to be overstressing themselves about exams. It appears that students themselves are the greatest source of pressure.

So, what can be taken from all this? Basically, students need to learn how to get some distance when revising and find some time to relax and destress. 

Here are our four top tips on how to successfully revise without losing your mind:

1. Make a plan

Yes, revision is important, and doing well in your exams is connected with how much time you spend revising. However, the quality of the time you spend studying is just as important as the quantity. If you are overly stressed, too tired or too distracted, you will not take much in regardless of how long you stare at your notes. 

As such, it is important to create a timetable where you give yourself enough time to study, whilst also ensuring you put aside sufficient time to sleep, eat and relax. How you relax is up to you. Perhaps you will schedule an hour or two to watch a film, read a book or play a sport. Either way, having that time put aside for some relaxation will help you concentrate when you do work and help your days seem less boring or overwhelming.

Similarly, it is a good idea to schedule time for you to get out of the house, as fresh air is important for your health, while also helping you shake away the cobwebs after a hard day revising. Even a short walk will help you, as hiding away in your room will only make you tired.

Ultimately, making a plan will help you feel more in control, while motivating to work and keep to deadlines. It will help you stay on top of due dates and ensure you have time to relax and sleep, as well as study.

2. Find something that works for you

It might be peppermint tea or meditation, a quick game of football or a ten-minute work- whatever works for you. No matter what it is, it is important that you give yourself permission to take a break from work and do something very different. This improves your ability to concentrate when revising and means you accomplish more than just revision in a day.

If you feel yourself getting stressed, it is always better to step away for a little bit and calm yourself down. Otherwise, you get more and more stressed as you fail to concentrate and it can easily become overwhelming. 

3. Stay connected with friends

The study shows that most students want to stay connected with their friends, and thus spend a significant amount of time looking at their news feeds. A desire to remain aware of what is going on and feel connected with peers is a normal emotion, so firstly it is important not to feel guilty about using social media during revision. Instead, set aside time specifically for social media use, so that you can concentrate while also keeping up to date with events. 

Better yet, organise a time to actually see your friends. Even if you just end up studying together, being around friends and having that support system with you if you need it is very useful.

Friends can also check each other's work, help give each other perspective and potentially even answer last minute questions. Additionally, for those who learn better verbally, it can be very useful to meet up with friends from your course to test each other. 

4. Look after your health

Things like your diet, sleep regime and mental health can significantly affect your ability to revise. Poor diet or lack of sleep can be extremely detrimental to concentration and ability to retain information, therefore it is essential to eat well and rest. 

Mental health can have a very large effect on your revision, as any problems can make it very difficult to get work done. Morever, the harder it is to revise, and thus the less revision achieved, the worse the mental health can get. As such it is important to be open and honest, and get help when symptoms arise. Teachers and doctors are here to help, and it is best to contact someone quickly in order to get the help you need.

This might be through a doctors surgery, or through an anonymous helpline, either way, you will likely find any issues easier to deal once you have discussed them and received advice. If nothing else, you will have the comfort of knowing you took the first step to get any help you might need and will likely find yourself better supported during the revision period. 

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