It won’t be a surprise for any of you to know that I am back in the revision zone. After 2 years of GCSE’s, 2 years of A-Levels and 3 years of an undergraduate degree, I’ve become a bit of a revision expert. In fact at my secondary school I taught revision seminars on top tips for memorising facts and information. This post will be a little bit different though...rather than banging on about pneumonics, colour coding your notes and consolidation, I’ll be sharing with you my top tips for eating, drinking and exercising during your revision period.
One thing I have learnt during my many, many years in education is that the brain can’t take hours and hours of staring at notes and textbooks, which brings me to my first tip:Tip 1: Get up and move about!
Every 45 mins or so you reach the peak of how much information you can retain – just a little fact I retained from my revision seminar days... In other words after 45mins any work you continue to do just won’t stick! 45 mins really doesn’t seem very long, but your break doesn’t have to be that long either.My favourite ways to take a break are to get up, have a good stretch and do one of the following activities for 2-5mins, depending on how much of a break I need:
· Jump up and down, do some star jumps, anything bouncy that will get the blood flowing round the body again – it really is invigorating!
· See how many sit-ups you can do in your break. This gives you something else to think about other than the looming exams. By giving yourself a non-exam related target you will be switching your brain off for those 5 mins, and getting some exercise too!
· Go for a walk. At university this was my most used trick. Sometimes you need a change of scenery and going for a walk around the block will give you fresh air too.All of this exercise will also help to combat top tip #2.
Tip 2: SnackSnacking is often associated with unhealthy bags of crisps, chocolate, and cake. I don’t for one minute propose that you live off of these kinds of food during your revision (see tip #4), but the odd treat won’t hurt you. In fact a naughty snack or teat can work to incentivise you.
For example, if I have consolidated all of my notes on derivatives by 3pm I can have a piece of cake! Woo hoo!Snacking IS an essential part of revision though. People often underestimate just how much energy revision requires. In fact it can be seriously exhausting! Brains don’t run on air you know. So try some of these healthy snack ideas to keep you going:
- Fruit – I like to chop up a variety of fruits and have them in a bowl next to me. Apples, pears, mango, pineapple, orange segments etc are all great for a sweet treat later in the day. They will also give you a natural sugar rush to help you push through.
- Vegetable sticks – celery, cucumber, peppers and carrot are fab for savoury snackers. Avoid creamy dips if you can!
- Popcorn – for those of you who just can’t avoid something with a bit more of a crunch try popcorn. Not the microwave covered in butter/toffee stuff, but instead the popped-at home slightly more healthy kind. It takes minutes to make your own popcorn and a bag of unflavoured kernels is much cheaper than the branded kind. Try this chocolate popcorn recipe, or simply add your own flavouring.
- Chips and salsa – I won’t even try and pretend that Doritos, or any other tortilla chips for that matter, are healthy. But sometimes you just need a big bag of crisps! Whip up a quick salsa to get a few fruits and veggies into your snacking diet.
- Nuts and dried fruit - another great snack that won't do too much damage to your waistline is nuts and fruit. You can pick up bags of these in all good supermarkets! Try to portion them out into small bowls though to avoid a huge calorie intake.
Tip 3: Drink LOTS
It’s not just important to keep your energy levels up by snacking. You must also make sure you stay well-hydrated.Some drinks are actually known to dehydrate you further, so try staying away from fizzy drinks and drinks high in caffeine.
When you’re a student it can be really tempting to live off of energy drinks and coffee. I for one however find it more difficult to concentrate on the revision I’m trying to do if I’m too pepped up. There is also a limit to how much caffeine a person should have in one day. 4 energy drinks one after the other will NOT do you any good.Stick to water based drinks such as squash to ensure you are hydrated.
Tip 4: Eat fishI won’t pretend to understand the science behind fish being good for the brain. I think it’s something to do with the omega 3? What I do know, is that at the very least it will hopefully work as a placebo and give you the confidence to do well!
When I was still in school my Mum fed me these brain tablets that supposedly helped with memory etc. They were made of fish oils. Again, I have no idea if they worked or just gave me the boost I needed to believe in my own capabilities. Well I achieved the 3 A’s I needed for university and have done alright for myself since.See for yourself if it works and try and fit in some of these fishy meals in the run up to your revision:
- Home-made fish fingers
- Healthier Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas and Tartar Sauce
- Trout and Chorizo Chowder
- Mackerel and Cream Cheese Pasta
- Asian Style Salmon with Red Onion and Cucumber Dipping Sauce
- Gourmet Tuna Pasta Bake
- Soy Glazed Salmon with Rice and Peas
- Salmon with Dill and Creme Fraiche
- Spicy Prawn Noodles
- Trout and Fennel Parcels with Cous cous
- Baked Cod with Lentils and Lardons
So those are my top tips! If you keep active, eat and drink well, you will breeze through your revision! (I can't guarentee you'll get good grades though, that's up to you!)