I remember spending my revision time making multiple plans to avoid getting down to the nitty gritty of actually learning! I remember trying to revise and getting to the end of a page in the text book only to find that I couldn’t remember a word that I had read. I remember yawning lots and feeling like all I wanted was an afternoon nap rather than more reading. I remember waiting outside the exam room and checking facts and figures with friends only to be thrown into sheer panic when they had revised different answers to me. I also remember sitting in my worst A level exam and feeling unable to concentrate, my thoughts turning to anything but American Politics! We are fast drawing in on the time of year where exams are dominating thought and revision fills every spare minute. Exams really can seem like a living nightmare.
Anxiety can cause problems with sleep, digestion, our immune systems and can certainly interfere with concentration, the last thing you need when you have an exam coming up.
Mindfulness is the perfect solution. Firstly we can learn to relax and when we are relaxed we are much clearer in our thinking. By learning to be less distracted and by reducing the amount of mental chatter going on in our brain we can reach our optimum level of focus which allows us to learn more effectively. There are also great brain training exercises which allow us to train our brains to focus better and for longer.
So if you are in an exam tiz try this….
1) Move away from the books/computer
2) Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, hands on your thighs, back upright, relaxed but focused.
3) Set the timer on your phone – try 5 minutes to start with.
4) Close your eyes and notice your breath entering and leaving your body.
5) Count your breaths up to 10. 1 for the in breath, 2 for the out breath and so on.
6) When you get to 10 go back to 1 and start again.
7) Each time your mind wanders bring it back to the breath and start to count again.
8) Never tell yourself off for your mind wandering – this is the whole point of the exercise – bringing your attention back.
9) When the timer goes off sit and appreciate how you feel and then decide what the next thing you are going to do is.
10) Staying in that calm state of mind move into your next activity and enjoy your renewed focus.
Doing this exercise once will help you to relax and focus, doing it every day for a week will mean that you can really notice the difference in the way you are working, doing it every day for 8 weeks would mean that you could see the difference on an MRI. Amazing!
Do the exercise in bed when it is time to sleep and you will have drifted off before you know it. If you wake in the night with exam panic then try it then and you will have drifted off again in no time.