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Wellness > Mental Health

Surviving Exam Season: How to Balance Self-care and Studying

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

Exam season is upon us! While the temperature drops and the days get shorter, we’re in for one last sprint to the semester finish line. Amid essay outlines, study guides, and abusing the library’s late hours, it can be hard to stay motivated and level-headed. The key to thriving over the next week? Striking a balance between work and wellness. So, if you could use some tips on how to navigate your revision week routine, keep reading.

Tidy Your Environment

Before you begin your studying endeavors, it’s good practice to make sure your everyday spaces are organized (or, organized enough). Starting the process of preparing for deadlines with a messy bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom only builds upon the stress of exam season. Taking a brief moment or two to declutter your surroundings can establish a conducive atmosphere, setting the stage for a more productive and efficient week of revision.

Establish Go-To Study Spaces

Whether it be your kitchen counter or a favourite cafe, having reliable places in which you know you will get work done can elevate your outlook on revising and help you maintain a stable study routine. In a town like St Andrews, it’s not hard to find a cozy nook or picturesque seat to set up shop for a bit. You can even devote different spaces to different subjects– a coffee in Five Acres while studying for your Econ exam, a few hours in the main library to write your Philosophy paper. If you want somewhere quiet but pretty, I personally recommend the King James Library. The top floor of the main library also offers a nice view of town.

Create a Study Schedule

While it may seem intuitive, scheduling your study sessions serves not only as an extremely helpful organizational tool but also as a good way to avoid both procrastination and overworking yourself. This practice also allows you to allocate time to decompress each day. What’s important is finding a daily (and hourly) structure that works for you. Time management approaches like the Pomodoro Method are great ways to work in relaxation periods and boost your revision efficiency. You can also institute a study cutoff, in which you stop working after a certain time in the day. This way, you can also avoid working yourself into the early hours of the morning and encourage yourself to sustain a healthy sleep schedule.

Separate your Spaces

When you’re revising throughout a day, the things you do outside of work can blur together and feel insignificant. But, in the same way that it’s important to look up from our phones to appreciate a sunset or a clear starry night sky, it’s important that you don’t let the little moments outside of the buzz of revision lose their value. To maintain this sense of mindful gratitude during such a busy time, it’s a good idea to separate these moments.

An easy way to implement this practice is to avoid eating where you’re working. Whether you leave your things in the library to grab a smoothie from Raw Pressed, or merely keep your computer tucked in your bag at dinner, fully disengaging from your work during the other parts of your day can help contribute to a more fulfilling and well-rounded experience.

Set Aside Treats

In line with the decompression you can budget in creating a study schedule, creating little rewards for yourself along the way to completing your deadlines can help you avoid losing steam in your work endeavours. This can take different forms for different people, but some of my favorites include: 

  • Picking up a dessert at the end of a workday
  • Taking a beach walk on a sunny day
  • Buying a pastry and/or coffee in between study sessions
  • Trying a new dinner recipe when you get home
  • Buying yourself a new candle
  • Reading a book you’ve been enjoying
  • Watching your current binge show
  • Doing a face mask
  • Facetiming your best friend– from home or at school (if they’re also at uni, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the distraction from finals as much as you will)

Keep a Post-It Handy

When I’m working for long periods, I often find myself daydreaming of the things I’d rather be doing. Honestly, most of them are usually things I wouldn’t have even thought to do if I didn’t have things to do. On top of this, half of the time I completely forget the fun things I think of doing so I can never actually set out to do them once exam season is over. My favorite way to remedy this forgetfulness and hold myself accountable for doing these things is to keep a Post-it note on my computer while I’m working. Whenever I think of something I’d like to do but can’t at the moment, I write it down. At the end of finals, I have an entire list I can consult of fun things to do in celebration.

Kennedy Drolet

St. Andrews '26

Hi all! I'm a second year studying philosophy and psychology. In my life, I've often turned to writing as an outlet for creative expression and an opportunity to delve into topics I hold close to my heart. I'm excited to use this platform to continue to explore and share these passions.