It happens to all of us at times. Under an onslaught of deadlines and exams, you set aside a full day or an evening just to study, only to find yourself distracted by every little thing. Almost against your will, you find yourself constantly losing focus or getting up to grab a sugary snack or some coffee. Eventually, after a couple of hours of studying, you find that your brain is actively resisting and that you have read the same paragraph ten times over without retaining any of it.
So how to avoid that Study Marathon Slump? Here are 5 tips that will help.
It’s tempting to give in to your craving for a candy bar or a cup of coffee for the quick energy these provide. But these foods will only boost your energy for a short time and then leave you crashing hard. Instead, fill up on foods with whole-grain carbs, lean protein, and fiber. These will sustain you for long periods of time, fueling your brain function so that you find it easier to concentrate. So when you get hungry while studying, try an apple with peanut butter or a turkey sandwich. Skip the caffeine and the energy drinks: they can cause symptoms like nervousness and upset stomach, which will make it harder for you to focus.
When you’re dehydrated, your energy level plummets. You become easily fatigued and may have other symptoms like headaches. If you feel thirsty that means you are already dehydrated! So carry a water bottle around with you and sip from it all day long. Staying hydrated will help you sustain your energy and focus during those long study sessions and the rest of the time too.
You will be amazed at how the simple act of slowly inhaling and exhaling can help you de-stress and focus better. You can also try repeating a mantra such as “Be here now.” This will help you tame any distracting thoughts that run through your mind as you gently bring your focus back to studying. Another great technique to help with this is to set aside a “Worry Time” each day. Then when distracting thoughts intrude, you can just remind yourself that you have postponed these thoughts until your “Worry Time”.
Take short but effective breaks at pre-scheduled times as you work. This will help you return to studying with renewed focus and energy. Use breaks for physical activity, like a walk, a workout, or just some stretching for ten minutes. Simply heading outdoors for a walk every day can reduce the risk of many types of cancer, relieve depression and anxiety, and improve thinking and reasoning ability.
But wait…isn’t it better to just stay up all night to cram for a big test? It turns out that it isn’t! Without adequate sleep, your brain can’t function. So plan to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. Maybe you will run out of time and not get to cover everything, but at least you will have a clear understanding and memory of those topics that you read. This is much more effective than just studying everything but not remembering any of it.
Although simple, these practices can make a world of difference to your energy and focus. Try implementing them today to see their full effect.