Studying for exams or tests can feel quite intense and stressful, however I have found that through making time to self-care, self-love, nurture and study in my own rhythm, studying can be much more fun, natural and easy.
In the past I have fallen for the belief that you have to focus only on your study in the exam period to achieve the best results, and this had a huge impact on how my body felt after the exams. I felt sadness, not because the exam did not go well, but because I could feel that the way I had studied was in disregard of my body.
I also felt tired – because I had pushed myself as I thought there was not enough time, and I did not always listen to the little signs when my body was asking me to stop and take a break or do something else for a moment.
It was also about the thoughts I allowed at times whilst studying, and how I treated myself. I would have thoughts such as “I will never pass this”’ and “I have not studied enough so I am very bad,” instead of feeling that I am a very tender, delicate, joyful woman who needs care, love and nurturing as my foundation, to then be able to do other things like studying without going into disregard for myself and my body.
After realising this I asked myself; can I study, care for, love and nurture myself at the same time? Wouldn’t this be a much greater way to study?
I have found that when I care for, love and nurture myself first and foremost, I can study in a way that is much more efficient and fun. I do not need to study long, arduous hours just to have read and be able to recall everything. Instead, I gain more of an understanding of what is important to remember for the exam by studying the things that are important and making sure I understand the bigger picture of what is being taught.
This is very powerful. I realised that when I am present with myself, as in not thinking about anything else while I am studying, I ‘just know’ what parts are important and I do not have to know every little detail and every page from the inside out to pass an exam.
In this way I am able to do so much more, in and besides my study, such as chatting with my family and friends, listening and dancing to some beautiful music or working in my job. This leaves me feeling alive and connected to people around me.
So, what are the simple self-caring, self-loving and nurturing things I choose to do to support me in this way?
- I make sure I listen to my body, for example taking breaks before my mind feels foggy
- Making sure I drink enough water throughout the day
- I keep myself warm whilst studying, with tea and warm clothes (especially in winter)
- Wearing clothes in which I feel beautiful and are comfortable at the same time, even if I am not going out that day
- I eat foods I know will support me and prepare nourishing lunches to take with me to University
- Going for a walk or choosing to exercise each day, as I find exercise and walking help me connect more deeply with my body
- I make sure I create time to spend with other people, be it in the supermarket, with my family or with friends
- I also love deeply caring for my body with warm showers with delicious douche gels and painting my nails in the colours I feel like
- Going to bed when I feel tired and waking up early
- Not studying in the evening as that makes it harder to sleep
Living in this way and going to the university is a world of difference from how I used to live and study. By taking care of myself first, I feel more solid in myself and am much more able to see the requirements of the university, and make a choice how to work with them.
The most important thing I find about living life and studying in University is knowing that everything is equally important, so that studying is as important as for instance exercising, cooking, spending time with friends, doing the dishes and spending time with myself.
In all this I find the way I am with myself is key to support me through University and life.
by Lieke van Haastrecht, 24, Student in Dentistry, Ghent, Belgium