De-Stress and Concentrate: A Quick Cheat Sheet To Studying Efficiently

Whether you’re studying for your midterms, your finals, a language exam, or trying to produce a legible, comprehensive essay, the odds are you will eventually find your mind wandering.

Suddenly everything will seem more interesting than completing the actual task set upon you; an entire new series on Netflix, learning how to bake a chocolate pound cake and subsequently eating it, mastering the art of origami, spring cleaning. Your brain can and will come up with the most random stuff; it’s how we’re wired.

In all eventuality, you will probably succumb to one of the abovementioned distractions and find yourself with deadlines looming and yourself stressing out and attempting to cram everything in as quickly as possible. (If you’re one of those rare, mythical beings that can study without once breaking their concentration; how do you do it?)

For practically all students, trying to study continuously for a significant amount of time, will eventually result in a lack of concentration and crushing stress.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to get yourself back on track:


  1. Music Helps

One of the staples; when you feel you cannot concentrate or that the outside world keeps intervening with your studying/writing, you can always turn to music.

But! If you think relaxation and/or motivation music or three hour long videos of soft piano music you found on YouTube are the way to go, think again. Studies have shown that slow, soft music is more likely to make your thoughts drift or make you sad than help you study, and motivational music is better fitted for actual marathons than marathon study sessions.

Surprisingly, video game soundtracks, can boost your productivity and concentration levels significantly; or not so surprisingly, considering they are created with the exact purpose of keeping you focused on playing the game.


  1. Exercise

Studies have shown that regular, short, and moderately intense bouts of exercise can not only improve your concentration, but your memory too.

If (moderately) intense exercise is not for you, do not despair; YouTube provides you with all kinds of short, easy yoga exercises that will help keep you focused and calm so you can carry on with your studying.


  1. Be Mindful Of Your Sugar And Caffeine Intake

We can all acknowledge that the fifth cup of coffee might sound like a good idea when you’re trying to pull an all-nighter. It’s completely understandable why you would feel like you should definitely down that energy drink you have in your fridge. But, before attempting to substitute all food groups with caffeine, remember; feeling jittery and irate is even worse for your concentration than feeling sleepy.

A little bit of exercise or even chewing a piece of gum can chase away the sleepiness, but caffeine overdose is no joke and it’s easier to happen than you might think. Eat a healthy snack instead of drinking that espresso; your brain (and your grades) will only benefit from it.


  1. Make Your Studying Fun

It sounds like a tall order, finding something funny in twelve-hour-long studying sessions. However, you may discover that imagining a “mic drop” every time you memorise something vital or finish an argument on your essay is a great motivator in keeping you going.

Giving your project/essay a silly name can be surprisingly helpful too; trying to explain Brutus’ reasoning for the assassination of Julius Caesar comes a bit easier when the essay is titled “Ides Murder Suspect Denies All”. Just remember to change the title back before you hand the essay in.


  1. Walk Away

After studying for hours, it will eventually happen; your brain can only take that much, after all. Respect your boundaries.

If you find yourself reading and re-reading that same line over and over again, if you’ve just skimmed through a whole page of text and have no idea what you read, it’s a sign. Stop, close the textbook/laptop, and walk away.

Allow yourself fifteen minutes to unwind. Breathe deeply. Take a walk. Talk to a friend. Pet your dog. Even a short break away from studying will benefit you immensely.


  1. Make Use Of The Internet

While the Internet is one of the easiest ways to procrastinate and end up sending yourself straight into a maelstrom of impending deadlines, it is undeniably also one of the fastest and easily available solutions to stress.

In moderation, it can be a powerful tool to help keep your spirits up while you try to motivate yourself to read just one more chapter. Go watch a viral video. Close your eyes and create the background noise that will help you unwind. Paint a constellation.

No matter how determined you are to ace your exams remember: your mental health must always come first.


Eleni Vlassi is an international relations graduate. She has acquired an MA Degree in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy from City University and an LLM degree in International Business Law from Neapolis University of Paphos. She is now pursuing a career in international relations and journalism. Check out her LinkedIn here.

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