5 Ways Mindfulness Can Help You Tackle Your Exams

Keep calm and don't turn into a puddle of stress.

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Mindfulness, put simply, is the process of being aware of your mind and body: paying attention to your thoughts and movements.

There are a whole lot of great mental health benefits from practicing mindfulness that will ensure you don’t collapse into a giant stress puddle come exam time.

#1 Improves Focus And Reduces Stress 

Studies have shown that mindfulness can improve your focus and help you ‘tune out’ distractions. Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present and our mental state. Come the end of semester, we’re understandably often worried about the future – exams, assessments, grades, etc. This is perfectly normal. Mindfulness isn’t about ignoring these thoughts or pushing them down, but taking the time to acknowledge them.

This simple process alone has been shown to decrease stress symptoms and enhance individual’s focus.

#2 Boosts Working Memory 

Working memory refers to the ability of the mind to hold and process information for short periods. This is incredibly important when studying and evaluating new information.

You know that feeling when you’re going over uni notes but you get to the bottom of the page and have no idea what you just read? In stressful situations, our working memory capacity deteriorates. However, science has shown that one of the benefits of mindfulness meditation can help boost working memory. Therefore, boosting your ability to study effectively! 

#3 Combats Trouble Sleeping 

Come exam time, red bull ambassadors are parading through campus and it’s not unlikely that students will be on their fifth coffee come 5PM. All that caffeine coupled with stress undoubtedly has a negative impact on sleeping habits – which in turn, creates a reliance on caffeine, resulting in an energy-draining cycle.

Practicing mindfulness meditation, which often involves focusing on breathing and muscle relaxation, can put one in a restful state that makes it easier to fall asleep. Also, by reducing day-to-day stress, it can help to keep unhelpful lingering worries that surface before bedtime away. 

#4 Helps You Cope With Depression And Anxiety

Research into mindfulness meditation has shown that those who practice it experience a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety. It has also been proven to boost resilience and decrease the extent of negative rumination.

For many students, exam time can exacerbate existing mental health issues. Thus, it’s during this time that it’s particularly important to focus on positive things one can do to improve your mental health. 

#5 Assists With Relaxation 

If you’re constantly cramming, it can lead to serious burnout. It’s important to take out some time every day to relax and unwind.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Lots of people can feel guilty taking time to watch Netflix or grab a beer with friends. There’s that lingering voice saying, “I could be studying.”

Mindfulness is one way to assist with relaxing by drawing your attention to any worries you may have and letting you reflect on them properly.

So, How Do I Practice Mindfulness?

You don’t have to hike to the Himalayas or even a join Yoga studio to engage in some mindfulness meditation. It can be done wherever you feel comfortable and have some space; your bedroom, a park, or even on the train. There are also a number of different ways you can do it, including progressive muscle relaxation or mindful breathing.

Just like studying, the more you practice mindfulness, the better you will become at it. So don’t worry if you’re just starting out and you can’t hold your focus for particularly long, that is perfectly normal. Even just a few minutes a day will have significant benefits.

Lizz is a politics and philosophy graduate, creative writer and soy-latte drinker. She is the avocado-flavoured icing on the indulgent millennial cake. You can follow her on twitter at @lizzkuiper