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listening to music and other tricks to help you study better

Exam stress got you so worked up, you’re freaking out every time you sit down to study?

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From eating right to listening to a soothing violin concerto, there are a few simple ways you can ease anxiety and improve your memory to ace that test.

Drop the beat

You know how you start to smile when you listen to that chilled house set? That’s because music causes the release of dopamine, a chemical known as the ‘happy hormone’, which improves your mood and contributes to feelings of pleasure. Listening to music while studying can help you beat some of the anxiety associated with prepping for exams. Choose your tunes wisely though. Even if rock is your jam, lyrics could actually distract you from what you’re reading. Classical music and slower melodies or instrumentals are your best bet.

Get some shuteye

Sleep is hard to come by when you’re stressed out and staying up late to cram for that exam you need to ace. And yet numerous studies have shown that sleep helps learning and improves memory in 2 important ways. Sleep can help you focus your attention and learn more new material more efficiently, and it also plays a part in the consolidation of memory.

So how can you get some shut eye when you don’t have all night? Try taking a nap. Just 45 minutes of sleep could give your brain a boost. Don’t have that kind of time either? You may want to try a 6-minute snooze. During an experiment carried out in Germany a few years ago, scientists found that napping for just 6 minutes helped students recall words they had learned earlier that day.

Feed your brain

Broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. No one’s favourite food pairing. But all three foods contain high levels of Vitamin K, which is linked to improving your memory. If you really want to boost your brain power during exams, try working these simple superfoods into your regular meal plan:

  • Blueberries assist with shaping brain cells, forming new connections between them that improves memory
  • Green tea has been shown to improve alertness, memory and focus
  • Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, which helps boost brain cells and also eases depression if you’re down in the dumps about studying. Just add 1 teaspoon to a pot of rice (although eating said rice for a week will yield better results)
  • Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids and antioxidants (yay!), which improve blood flow to the brain
  • Eggs contain choline, a micronutrient used to create neurotransmitters that help regulate your mood and improve memory function
  • Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, which is an essential ingredient for learning and memory
  • Fatty fish are packed with Omega-3 oils, which also boosts blood flow to the brain. Stock up on mackerel, tinned sardines and trout

Get out

When it feels like your brain is about to burst, head outside and get some fresh air. The latter being the important bit here. Don’t walk out of your house and into a bar down the road. Rather go for a walk in the park, a jog on the mountain, a brisk trot up and down the beach. The more you move, the more energised you will feel. The brain uses three times as much oxygen as your muscles do, so don’t stop until you feel a little tired. Even if your legs get tired, your body will still be packed full of feel-good endorphins.

Do a digital detox

Stop stalking your crush’s ex’s ex (seriously, you’re just torturing yourself) on Insta. If you really want to switch off, you need to, well, switch off. To enforce time out – or away – from your devices, you’ll need to put some rules in place:

  • Make a gadget list. How many devices do you currently have in use? The brutal truth may surprise you. Make a second list of things you enjoy doing that you currently don’t indulge in. Comparing the two will help you realise that if you sacrifice some screen time, you could gain some real time.
  • When you’ve finished studying for the day, don’t reach for your phone right away. Put it in another room or give it to someone else. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • If you want to watch TV to unwind, choose one episode of a great sitcom rather than a movie that’s hours long.
  • Change one habit at a time. No one expects you to go cold turkey. If you’re not enslaved to your phone tonight, reward yourself with a quick comedy show on Netflix.

Simplify your life, move to Capitec

Another way to simplify your student life? Move to Capitec and use the banking app to keep track of your budget and spending habits. As an added bonus, it will free up more of your time so you can focus on your studies!

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