When studying for an exam or writing a complex essay, you may find yourself struggling to stay focused. Maybe you feel groggy from a late night of studying, or perhaps you are feeling run down before an afternoon exam. Either way, a foggy mind is never ideal when taking a test, or when performing any academic task.
However, there is still hope! Even the sleepiest scholars can wake up their brains with a few simple activities designed to have them feeling – and thinking – their very best.
Arms above head
An important part of testing well is having confidence. Students who feel empowered tend to do better on tests because they feel secure about their ability to perform well. To increase your confidence and engage your brain, stand with your feet far apart and your hands above your head, taking up as much physical space as you can. Do this for two minutes.
Studies show that by adopting a “power pose” before important tests and interviews, people gained confidence and performed better. See if you feel confident – and more awake – after this exercise.
If you feel anxious about a test or presentation, it can be helpful to take a few minutes for quiet meditation. Do not allow yourself to drift into sleep – instead, focus on a specific phrase or idea and sit quietly with it.
Dismiss thoughts of the material and get a few moments of conscious rest. A study at the University of California has shown that a few weeks of meditation increased memory capacity and performance on standardized tests.
One-minute dance party
Music has a way of energizing even the most tired of us, so why not use it to your advantage? Put on some upbeat music of your choice and dance wildly for one minute – or, if you are really feeling it, an entire song.
The coordinated movement and mental stimulation will have you awake in no time at all.
Sunlight has proven restorative properties, so spend a few minutes standing, reading, or stretching in the sun. If it is cold outside, bundle up – the act of absorbing a little sun, no matter the temperature, will energize your brain.
You will likely feel a bit happier throughout the day, which can help you to be more academically engaged as school progresses, as well as counteract long hours of studying indoors. Sunlight tells your body and brain that it is daytime – so wake up!
Move your feet
More specifically, move your toes. These small and simple movements engage a set of nerves to engage your brain and wake you up. Because this activity is simple and discrete, you can perform it in a variety of places. If you are struggling during class time, daydreaming during a test, or unable to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, a simple toe wiggle can do the trick.
Take a walk
A walk can make you feel immediately refreshed, offering fresh perspective on a number of academic issues. If you are able, take a five-minute walk to get your brain to welcome the morning – or afternoon.
A walk helps to circulate blood and oxygen, providing energy and stimulating the brain. Running in place can have similar effects – just get that blood flowing!
As with all areas of your life, awakening the brain takes balance. To refocus your energy, try standing on one foot for a minute (or for as long as you can). You will give your mind a rest while focusing on your body and its movement, and this coordination can wake you up.
Especially as you approach big tests, it can often be difficult to remain academically engaged. Hang in there – ultimately, you will be glad you did. By focusing on small things you can do to make yourself feel more awake, you will be a better student in the short and long term. Wake up!