At the best of times preparing for matric exams is one of the most stressful life experiences. So, how are you going to handle yourself in the year of a global pandemic and the rollercoaster ride response?
‘The good news is that no matter the chaos and uncertainty around you, you can still take charge of yourself,’ says Counselling Psychologist, Lauren Martin who is on the panel at an upcoming SACAP (South African College of Applied Psychology) webinar, Study hacks to get through matric exams. ‘Academic success can be achieved while experiencing challenging states and circumstances. Matrics can start right now to prepare themselves emotionally, physically and mentally to get through their exams.’
The trick is not to look for a silver bullet. Rather, the experts recommend a mixed bag of study hacks including movement as matric medicine, study strategies to achieve success, healthy eating for healthy results and emotional well-being as a tool to boost performance.
Esmarie Cilliers, a Registered Counsellor says: ‘Studying for success is not a question of luck or talent alone. Students who follow a plan and scientific study methods learn more easily, retain information for longer periods, and save themselves hours of study time which enables them to have more balance in their lives.’
Dr Diana De Sousa, SACAP’s Head of Teaching and Learning says: ‘Matrics can embrace their growing independence and choose to view this incredibly challenging time as an opportunity to improve self-discipline, time management and study skills. It is our own inner attributes that help us to harness the motivation, will power, creativity and coping skills that will empower you to succeed.’
Of course, mental toughness and emotional resilience do not stand on their own. Sufficient sleep, supportive nutrition and being physically active every day too often fall by the wayside when study pressures mount.
‘Eating balanced meals and snacks with a variety of foods results in good blood sugar control,’ added Clinical Dietician, Nathalie Mat. ‘When our blood sugar control is smooth as silk, meaning no sugar highs followed by lows, we’re able to keep laser-like focus for longer. Quick fixes like coffee and energy drinks may promise a mental boost but are not ideal sources of nutrition and do not fuel our brains. High caffeine intake can affect sleep which further decreases concentration and learning.’
While some may think long hours at a desk is evidence of discipline and virtue, it is counter-productive to learning. Biokineticist, Joshua Marc De Hahn explains, ‘Physical activity increases our heart rate, the volume of blood pumped around the body and the amount of oxygen we consume, this creates an environment where more blood is flowing to the brain, which in turn means more oxygen and more nutrients reach the brain. This results in a brain and body that can function at a much more optimal level.’
Join SACAP for their Study Hacks Session on how to get through the matric exams with less stress. There will also be a Q&A session so that you can address any personal challenges. Register for the free Zoom webinar on Saturday, 19 September at 10am here.