Balancing work and study during a global pandemic for a 2nd season is a challenge. It can be difficult to separate work, study, and home life when all 3 take place under the same roof! Some of you taking this season’s exams have expressed a feeling of being “chained to the desk.” With no social outlets and restrictions on sport and gyms it can feel difficult. We know some actuarial students have decided not to take exams this April and that is completely understandable.
Then there are those actuarial students from the glass half full gang who have mentioned that the current restrictive landscape is helping with studies. If there is nothing going on you are not missing anything so what a great time to focus. There is also the bonus of open-book exams which does help in some cases.
So how do you stay on top of your study game while also holding down a full-time actuarial job, in a highly competitive field, during a global pandemic?
Part of the answer is to make sure you look after yourself. The most important way to combat the stress factors of exams is to incorporate balance in your life. While it is vital to study for exams, it is also especially important to take care of your physical and mental health. Here are some suggestions which may help you.
Our bodies were not designed to sit at a desk for hours at a time. The very act of sitting still for too long has been proven to be unhealthy and would certainly have a negative impact on study. The problems may manifest themselves as physical problems with your back or your eyesight, or mental health problems including stress or anxiety. Remind yourself to take a break and walk around for a few minutes every hour – even if it is just going into the kitchen!
Better still, one thing that seems to help people get out of a study funk and refresh their brain is to get outside. Those of you who are lucky enough to be within 5K of the sea have the advantage of a quick dip. Sea swimming seems to be the new go-to stress buster for Irish people in lockdown, as it leaves you refreshed and reenergised (and cold – remember to bring a flask of tea or coffee!). But you do not have to plunge into the freezing ocean to get your fresh air fix. As simple as it sounds, a 20-minute walk can do wonders for both body and mind and will have you feeling ready to hit the books again with a new mindset.
Another tip is to make sure that you are maintaining a balanced diet. It is all too easy to spend a day working/studying, and then to order a takeaway instead of cooking. Although we do all need something to look forward to these days, getting takeaway too often can be expensive and unhealthy. Preparing healthy meals in advance can help your pocket and your body. Consider making a few portions of dinner to freeze or preparing a healthy breakfast/lunch the night before. The food you make yourself will have less added salt and sugars and will keep you feeling energized and motivated. Some good “brain-foods” include salmon, broccoli, eggs, nuts, and oranges.
Sleep sleep sleep
Never underestimate the power of sleep. Having a regular sleep routine improves the quality of sleep. A rested brain is a healthier more receptive brain.
Break down your study to achievable nuggets
Learning theory can be a particularly hard part of study. Try to break each subject down to smaller manageable chunks. Writing concise notes will help you learn and will be a huge help to your future self. Once you have your concise notes think about how you would apply the knowledge to answering questions. From there create even smaller bullet points. Eventually you will end up with what looks like a small amount of material, but it becomes a handy prompt when you are studying. If you can, try to get practice questions to help you learn.
Good luck to all of you taking exams this season!
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