Lifestyle Changes

Since it’s back to school season I figured I would write a continuation of my study tips article, this time focusing on the lifestyle changes that I briefly mentioned in my first article of this series.

These lifestyle changes will be largely focusing on health. Personally, I saw a huge dip in my results when my depression and anxiety worsened at the beginning of the school year. I decided to see my local GP and was referred to a psychologist who gave me many useful pointers in improving my mental and physical health that in turn improved my exam performance. A few months after these sessions I began ranking first in my class when doing mock exams. I feel that making these slight adjustments to your life will enhance your exam performance, and result in less stress, so here are my top ‘lifestyle changes’ recommendations to improve your exam performance.

1. Mental Health

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Take care of your mental health.

The level of mental health issues reported amongst students has shot up exponentially in recent years and this has had a negative impact on their grades. How you’re feeling around exam time will likely impact your exam performance.

I want you to sit down and ask yourself:

• Are you overworking yourself?
• Are you neglecting spending time with your loved ones?
• Are you paying too much attention to what others think about you?
• Are your environments messy and unpleasant to work in?

If yes, I want you to remember that no matter how much hard work you put into studying or working if you don’t take care of your mental health you won’t reap the full benefits of your studying by the time your results are out. The stress you are creating for yourself is toxic and will hurt you in the long run.

Make sure to take regular breaks, go out with your friends and family every once in a while, eat on time and to drink plenty of water. Don’t over-do these either though, too much of something is never a good thing.

If you have deeper psychological issues however, I highly recommend popping into your local doctors and just discussing your options, you don’t need to see a psychologist if you don’t want to. Just make sure you know what options there are for you out there. If you don’t feel safe visiting your doctors look for helplines online. If you are from the UK I have left a link to a page on the NHS detailing several helplines outside of the NHS.

2. Mindfulness

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Useful websites and apps:, Headspace
The definition for Mindfulness is:
a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Studies show that students who practiced mindfulness saw improvements in their memory, and so performed better in exams. It is also known to lower the risk of depression and stress levels, and stress can often cloud your judgement in exams, so this is a major benefit of practicing mindfulness for a few minutes every day. Last of all, it improves your quality of sleep which will help you pay more attention during the exam and in class, allowing you to make full use of what is being taught.

I highly recommend that you look into Mindfulness yourself, starting with the link and app I provided in the picture’s caption.

3. Exercise

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Considering we’re on the internet I’m going to take a wild guess that you might not enjoy exercising. Yeah, me neither. Despite this however, exercise can improve both your mood and grades.

Exercising increases neurotrophins in your brain which allows for the survival or neurons that are in charge of your learning and memory, so exercising is actually highly useful for improving your exam performance. Exercising is also said to improve self-confidence so it is an incredibly useful adjustment you could make to your life.

If you don’t like exercising I’m not suggesting anything intensive. Something as simple as walking to school or work, or taking the stairs every day should suffice. Alternatively, you could join a local sports club, which is a great way to make some new friends, and linking back to my earlier point, improve your mental health. This should in the long term enhance your exam performance.

4. Classical Music

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Recommended: (Liszt – La Campanella), (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 23), (Pachelbel - Canon in D)

This is going to sound odd but listen to classical music when studying. I’m not kidding when I say this, but I listened to Liszt – La Campanella when studying economics and in the exam when I was writing my answer and trying to recall what I had learnt, in my mind I heard this song and remembered the information. I got an A in economics. I really do recommend that when studying something you put some classical music on in the background.

Classical music also reduces stress, which if you haven’t already noticed from this article is a major impediment for students in exams. If there’s something you want to reduce in your life, make it anything related to overly high levels of stress.

Thank you so much for reading, and hopefully you’ll be able to make these adjustments to your life to help you excel in your upcoming exams. Best of luck this year!

For article one of my 'Study Tips' series click the link below:

Be sure to stay tuned for the next 'Study Tips' article which will be focusing on studying methods.

- Anika