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23 May 2013

Summer Highs, Revision Lows: Tips for Reducing Exam Stress

We’ve been waiting for the sun to come out for so long, and now that it’s finally here student exam season is upon us. As a student myself, I know the miserable feeling of staring out of the library window at the sun-kissed streets of Newcastle, a pile of books my only friend. Revision and essay writing is hard, and the good weather doesn’t make things any easier.

So how can you revise effectively, leaving more of your precious time for water fights and beach barbecues? If you have to pull the dreaded ‘all-nighter’, how can you do it right? And, of course, a question very close to the Love Leaf heart: can you get your kicks without the caffeine?

Organising your Space
Some people say ‘a messy desk is a busy desk’. We think those people are compensating for their laziness. A messy desk means that, come revision time, you will a) spend half your time cleaning up and b) feel physically and mentally cluttered. So get rid of all those distractions and get all your equipment together before you even think about revision – if you must waste fifteen minutes finding a highlighter do it at the beginning of your session, and not halfway through.

Food and Drink
Cosmopolitan has put together a fab article on student friendly study foods on student friendly study foods including the likes of salmon, spinach, yoghurt, nuts, blueberries, lentils, eggs, and tofu. When you’re getting ready for a day in the library or an afternoon in the exam hall, pack your lunch accordingly; stay away from too many carbs – if you need a packet of chocolate biscuits to get through those particularly hard modules, use brown rice or whole meal pasta in your salad, and bring healthy snacks too, like peanut butter and celery.
Drink, drink, drink! Water is the most important thing you can take into any exam. Keep yourself hydrated and your brain will thank you. Aim for 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day – herbal or fruit teas count too. It’s no big deal to have a coffee to get you going, just don’t skimp on the bottled stuff later on.

How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
You may have already been told that caffeine can damage your health, but to what end? In small doses, as with everything, a cup of coffee here and there is totally harmless. In fact, we at Love Leaf believe if you love it, you should drink it. On busy days we work to a strict timetable of any type of tea, any time of the day!
Having said this, if you’re relying on an espresso before you even think of making that 9am lecture, it’s a sign you might be too reliant on the stuff. Caffeine may increase your speed but it doesn’t always increase your productivity, so be wary of Pro Plus or any other overly caffeinated substances. They can make you jittery, dizzy, anxious and completely unable to concentrate.
For many of us, it’s the comfort of holding a big Starbuck’s mug that motivates us to work, not necessarily the caffeine. Latte lovers should try our Spiced Chai Tea or Pure Rooibos made with a mug of half water and half milk – all of the comfort and none of the come down. Use skimmed milk if you’re calorie conscious and you can drink as many as you like!

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Productivity Perks
Find a revision strategy that’s manageable for you. Many people say that your brain can’t focus for more than 25 minutes or so, so split your tasks up into bite size chunks with a break in between. A break can be something as small as putting a book away, doing ten sit ups or brushing your hair – it doesn’t need to be an episode of How I Met Your Mother (although that does work, too). If you feel your brain starting to wander, take a break! Move locations, change topics, or crack open a window for some fresh air.

Having Breaks
After several revision sessions with smaller breaks, you will definitely need some time out. Cook yourself a meal, walk the dog, watch TV or head to the gym. Even half an hour’s swimming helps immensely – you don’t have to over do it, just enjoy yourself. Don’t be afraid to call it a day if you feel too frazzled, revising when you’re brain’s turned to jelly won’t get you anywhere.

The ‘All-Nighter’
In a similar way to caffeine, it’s no secret that one too many all nighters is no good at all. Sometimes they are unavoidable – you’ve lost all your work, forgotten a deadline or simply haven’t worked quickly enough – and the trick is to minimize its effect on the next day, and indeed the rest of the week. Pulling an all-nighter can seriously confuse your body clock especially if you use the following day to catch up on your beauty sleep.

Keeping your brain hydrated with water and herbal/fruit teas is a far more effective way of staying on the ball than coffee. When you are ready to sleep, chamomile, lavender and fennel all help to soothe tired eyes and a buzzing brain. Drink calming teas which will help you drift off at the right time, and make sure your all-night work session is only one night – long term sleep deprivation can have serious consequences including weakening of the immune system and weight gain.

The Best Teas for a Stressy Student

Rooibos: for a caffeine free latte that still packs a punch.

Feel Well: our blend of aniseed, chamomile and sage will soothe tired eyes and frazzled minds.

Feng Shui Tea: our most popular wellness tea contains a healthy dose of Goji berries. Weight for weight, these amazing little fruits have more Vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots and more iron than steak.

Ginger Peach: We LOVE tea, but if you’re on library hour number 5 and cuppa number 12, things can need shaking up a little. Try our Ginger Peach blend – a black tea (so you can add milk and sugar if you like) with a subtle gingery, fruity punch.

Blue Mango: our fruity green tea contains real pineapple pieces and natural flavourings as well as being lightly caffeinated, so you can enjoy all the anti-oxidising benefits with a little caffeine kick too.

COMPETITION: Want to win more tea than you can shake a spoon at? Look no further! Comment below with your best relaxation tip and you could win two bags of our loose-leaf tea and a filter teapot PLUS all these goodies:

A PERSONAL TRAINING SESSION with qualified trainer and Zumba instructor Claire Aberdeen

A PAMPER SESSION for the winner and four friends at LUSH

and a GORGEOUS PICTOR CUSHION from quirky design company Ohh Deer!

It’s as simple as that!
Good Luck and Happy Revising,

The Team x

(P.S. You can still enter if you’re not a student… workaholics, tired parents and other stressed out individuals are most welcome!)

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