The importance of taking a break during exam time

How to unwind while you’re studying

Written by Kat O'Connor


The Leaving Cert is just around the corner. As exam season approaches students are spending their evenings memorising quotes from Macbeth, attending extra math classes and stressing out about what type of rock Marble is. It’s a hectic time of the year for 6th year students, and with their minds full of quadratic equations and Irish grammar, they tend to forget to take care of themselves.

Exams take up a huge chunk of your time as a student, however it is vital that you find the time to take a breather. It’s hard not to get worked up over getting an A in higher level Irish or passing your German oral with flying colours, but taking a step back will help you avoid stress. A lot of students end up being run down due to a lack of sleep, poor diets and an overwhelming amount of pressure during exam time. Your body needs to be treated with great care and a lot of students tend to neglect themselves when they’re cramming for the Leaving Certificate. If you are run-down, your body can’t function properly. Exhaustion can cause weight loss, forgetfulness, insomnia, fatigue and even anxiety and depression. You need to take care of both your body and mind, especially during such an overwhelming time.

There are so many tips and tricks that will help make you feel better and full of energy. One thing that helps is to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. I know that sausage rolls from the local Deli may be a more appealing lunch option, rather than a leafy green salad, but your body will feel much better afterwards if you opt for the healthier option. Junk food can leave you feeling sluggish so it’s best to avoid your weekly outing to the chipper, especially during exam season.

Another thing that can help boost your energy is taking a tonic or multivitamins in the morning. These will help your body get all of the vitamins it needs. If you’re forgetful, putting the bottle of vitamins on your bedside locker will remind you to take them before you dash out the door to your 9am Irish class.

Getting enough sleep on the run up to your exams is key. We’ve all stayed up until 2am, reading our notes through sleepy eyes, in the hopes that we’d remember the answers during our history exam, but it never helps. Late night study sessions leave you feeling exhausted, which can have  a negative impact on your concentration. Aim to get at least 8 hours sleep a night, and even more when the week of your exams rolls around. The last thing you want to do is to start snoring in the exam hall.

One thing you can do to unwind is to plan a day out with your friends, whether you go to see La La Land for the fifth time or go for a walk in the Phoenix Park. This will help you get away from the books and out of the house. Organising a day out will also give your friends a break too, who are more than likely feeling just as stressed out about English Paper 2 as you are. Finding the balance between socialising and studying can be tricky, but try to relax for at least one hour every evening.

Taking a break during this hectic time of the school year will help make the overall experience easier. Remember to eat well, get enough sleep and take time out, and the Leaving Cert won’t be as daunting as it may seem.

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