A self-care guide to success during exam season and beyond
Taking meaningful breaks
other types of support
BE WELL, DO WELl... DURING EXAM SEASON AND BEYOND!
We know that university life can be stressful at times, and it can be tricky to make time to look after yourself, but when you put your own health and wellness on the back burner, it can have a negative impact on your ability to thrive. You’re obviously a superstar (way to go on getting into King’s!), but if you don’t look after your own wellbeing, you may not be putting your best foot forward. This little book will give you a chance to take a break and look after yourself so that you can recharge. We encourage you to use these ideas regularly before, during and after exam time. So, let’s stick to the basics of making sure you’re well so you can do your best work and be your best you.
The stuff you put in your body is a big deal! We all know that making sure we have brekkie and eating vegetables are good for us, but let’s talk about how food can fuel you to be your best. Skipping breakfast has been shown to reduce the ability to recall information and this could affect your academic performance. Researchers at King’s have found that a bowl of oats for breakfast reduces the inevitable decline in concentration throughout the day by more than half. Simply eating in the morning is not sufficient however; it is the food you choose that is key! Consuming low glycemic index (GI) foods such as oats and wholegrain toast keeps your blood sugar levels stable and increases your attention span, compared with high GI foods like white toast and sugary cereals. To prevent burnout during the exam period, keep your vitamins and minerals topped up by meeting your 5-a-day! Here are some brekkie ideas to power you through your day: Avocado, wholegrain toast, tomato & egg
Oats, nuts, berries, yogurt
Did you know you can use King’s Move to get rewards?
Remember: One portion = 80g = A handful
How Hydrated are You? Studies show that students who bring water into exams may improve their grade by keeping hydrated.
Dehydration causes your brain to shut down and not run at full speed, potentially impacting your everyday life. The NHS recommends you drink 6-8 glasses of water every day. Fill in the chart to make sure fully hydrated to feel your best! (Source: Fight the Fads, nhs, sciencedaily)
Tick off glasses of water to ensure you are fully hydrat-
A healthy recipe Pulled beef or pumpkin burrito (4 portions) Ingredients: • 1 packet (approx 300g) diced beef or 150g diced and roasted pumpkin • 4 spinach wraps • 400g cooked rice • 50g small diced onion and mixed peppers • 40g cheddar, grated • 100g drained and rinsed kidney beans • 20g Cajun spices Method: • Slow cook the beef in half the Cajun spices. • Roast the pumpkin in half the Cajun spice for the veggie option. • Sauté the onion and peppers then combine with the other ingredients cold so not to melt the cheese. • Add the flaked beef or roasted pumpkin. • Fill each wrap and roll up,sealing the sides and edges with a paste made from water and flour. • Roast to reheat on 175c. (source: king’s food)
taking meaningful breaks
Taking short, meaningful breaks can help you recharge and refocus when you’re spending long hours getting ready for exams. Here are some simple ways to best use your breaks to re-energise your mind and motivation.
Gratitude makes us feel great! Take a minute to write down three people you’re thankful for and why. 1. 2. 3. Didn’t that feel nice? Spread the love by sending them a text message to say why you’re grateful for them.
Headspace Teaches you how to meditate. Humm.ly Uses music therapy techniques to help people improve their physical and mental wellbeing. Mindset Uses 20-minute hypnosis sessions that could help you break procrastination patterns within your behaviour.
3 Minute seated yoga
This workout makes it easy to be active wherever you are! Make sure your back is straight throughout. Hold each pose for 15 seconds. Do one side, then repeat on the opposite side!
Stretch one of your arms up to the side
Slowly bring your chin towards your chest and hold, before straightening your neck again (keep your shoulders away from your ears) Stretch your arms above your head
lift one of your legs and flex your foot
Place one calf on top of your thigh and rest both hands on top
lift one leg & reach out with your opposite arm (palm facing up)
When you feel like you’ve got loads on, it can be easy to skip sleeping. Are the extra hours of awake time really helping out? Studies associate poor sleep quality with lower academic performance, whilst further research indicates that the time you go to sleep may also predict how you do academically.
6 TOP TIPS: SLEEP WELL TO DO WELL 1. Be Active during the day 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity during the day enhances deep sleep and energises you to be your best. 2. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine in the evenings. They can raise alertness before bedtime and disrupt normal sleep cycles that are responsible for leaving you refreshed after sleep. 4. Sleeping in a cave Create a room that is designed for sleeping in. Generally experts recommend keeping the bedroom cool (around 16-18C) and dark for high quality sleep.
3. Switch off!! Although tempting, avoid having any electronic screens switched on in the bedroom in the hours leading up to going to bed. The blue light produced by screens mimics daylight and can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm, preventing your body from naturally shutting down at the end of the day. Try to switch off electronic devices and close the study books at least an hour before bed.
5. Keep it beyond the bedroom If you can, try to avoid studying in your room so your mind and body know it’s time to rest.
6. Get up If you’re struggling to sleep after 20 minutes don’t stay there feeling frustrated, get out of bed and do something practical that you need to do but don’t enjoy (e.g. reading a really dull textbook). Don’t reward yourself with food, drink or your phone. These will motivate your brain to try to get you out of bed again. (source College Student Psychotherapy and Biological Rhythm Research Journals, mayo-clinic. Nhs, sleepcouncil, university of derby)
Like what you see and want to make some positive lifestyle changes? Whilst self-care is a crucial ingredient for exam season success, it’s positive lifestyle changes in the longer term that can really help you to flourish. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know where to start if you’re looking for personal growth, but King’s Wellbeing is on hand to help with our one-to-one coaching service. What is coaching? Coaching is a method that helps you to tap into your inner resources in order for you to better understand your current situation and your options moving forward. It focuses on goal-setting and action planning for positive change. How does coaching work? Coaching sessions are delivered in a confidential space on a one-to-one basis. During your session your coach will use open questions to help you to gain clarity and to set achievable goals. How many sessions can I book? Your first session will be an initial consultation, where you can explore what brings you to coaching and where you would like it to take you. You then have access to a maximum of 6 sessions per academic year. How do I book an appointment? Fill in the self-referral form on kcl.ac.uk/wellbeing and your campus coach will be in touch with you to book your first session. What will coaching help me with? You can come to our coaches with any area of your life where you would like to set goals for positive change. This may be study-related, or it may relate to other aspects of life such as relationships or getting the most out of your university experience. Will you give me advice? No. Coaching is distinct from our advisory services and is non-directive. Your coach will support you to make your own action plans. Is it the same as Counselling and Mental health Support? No. The Counselling and Mental Health Support Team can provide a deeper level of emotional support and coping strategies for students experiencing distress and mental health difficulties.
other types of support Whilst taking breaks is important you may still need some extra support during this time of year. Please don’t struggle on your own, remember that there is so much help available to you here at King’s College London. Your Personal Tutor is a great place to start if you’re experiencing difficulties with your academic life. kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/tutor Need a helping hand with your exam preparation? KCL’s Study Skills have a range of resources to help you. libguides.kcl.ac.uk/studyskills King’s has a Counselling & Mental Health Support Team. The team offers different types of support aimed at helping you explore your problems and share, and gain insight into, your feelings, thoughts and behaviour. Once you register for support, you may be offered face-to-face counselling sessions, which can be either individual or group, guided CBT, psycho-educational groups or relevant self-help resources. KCL.AC.UK/COUNSELLING For independent advice you can access KCLSU’s Advice Service where there is specialist advice for academic appeals, misconduct and mitigating circumstances. kclsu.org/advice Plus remember…if you are after some information, advice or support and, for whatever reason, you can’t remember or work out which part of the university to contact, you can always get in touch with Student Services who can advise you. KCL.AC.UK/STUDENTSERVICES
A self-care guide to success during exam season and beyond.