Taking Time to Relax as Part of Test Prep

As a student preparing for an exam, relaxation is an important skill for you to learn. It helps you cope with anxiety and also gets you into a receptive state (known as alpha state) for your brain to easily receive and process sensory information.

There has been ground-breaking research into the mind-body link. Two brilliant books you can find on the topic are: The Biology of Belief and Molecules of Emotion.

The idea is that your thoughts, emotions and body all work together. In terms of relaxation, this allows you to access alpha state in different ways. For example, you can focus on centering your thoughts that in turn calm your emotions and relax your body. Alternatively, you can do physical relaxation exercises that in turn center your thoughts and calm your emotions. Either approach will work.

As you prepare for any study session, relax yourself first. Take some deep breaths, stretch out your neck and shoulders, and tell yourself to “relax” as you exhale on the outbreath. Spend a minute or two finding a sense of relaxed alertness. You could also move your eyes from side-to-side to get the two hemispheres of your brain fired up.

Undertake a period of focused attention on your exam preparation, and relax again. Perhaps find an outdoor setting where you can take off your shoes and “earth” your feet in the ground.

The idea of “earthing” is becoming a popular relaxation strategy, as it’s believed the stress-producing electrical charge that builds up in your body during the day can be released into the ground. If you wear plastic or rubber soles on your shoes, you’re not able to access the benefits of earthing, and stress and tension will remain in your body.

During a relaxing study break, make sure you eat some healthy snacks, drink plenty of water, and do some light exercise (say, 20 star-jumps) to get some oxygen into your blood. Your brain takes a huge amount of energy to run, so make sure you feed it well.

When you are ready again, repeat your relaxation exercises — stretch, breath, tell yourself to relax, and then commence a new study session. In time, with enough practice, you’ll find that relaxing first before any study session is a natural technique that you’ll do by habit and you’ll notice the benefits. Have fun!

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