We can learn to master our studies and gain a strategic edge in life
Before we dive in, here's some quick advice to help with study. before we dive in:
Study while moving, as with a treadmill walking outside or walking in circles in a room, multiplies memory retention up to a factor of ten and somehow helps understand complex concepts that may have been a pain before.
Whenever you study also consider recording yourself reading the text while writing it down on flashcards (no notes should ever be on 81/2x11 paper as you might not have the time to also write them on flashcards as well), speaking what you study has been shown to increase memory retention. Recording it also allows you to listen to it while going for walks, going to the gym, sleeping etc.
Never try to study all flashcards at once and try to separate them into to groups. If studying oncology, try to separate by cancer types etc And start with a stack no more than 20 at a time.
If at any time you don't understand a concept or word, look it up or check out you tube videos on it. You tube videos can also be a great thing to study before you get to that section of the book or class, to make it less foreign. You want to prevent the class being the first time you hear something as much as possible.
Finally work to try and get everything done ahead of time, before you even cover it in class. Working hard to stay ahead will reduce a lot of stress that otherwise has been shown to challenge memory retention and even willingness to study.
There's a test coming up, and you may be worried about it so much that it's hard to study. Or you find yourself in a line of work but just don't feel your knowledge and skill cuts it. Or find yourself missing a vast area of knowledge you knew just years ago.
In the combat of wellness we learn to slowly focus more on the solutions than our worries, fears and problems. We have to make the decision, "Will it serve me better to spend my time worry about that which I may not know or learning it?"
We may endlessly worry about an upcoming test but it's not our job to decide if we pass or fail.
Imagine for a second an actor going to an audition, who's so concerned with whether or not they get the part they loose the ability to simply be... and never get any parts. Imagine that actor speaking up to the director and saying, "Mr director, I know it's your job to choose who gets the part and all but I'm just really concerned about that." If he's nice he'd ask them to simply do their thing, possibly with some direction...
It's not our job to decide if we pass a test, someone had to go to school for a long time to have that responsibility. Let them do their jobs and lets do ours.
Our job is not to pass tests. Our job is to grow as people, get better at that which we do, to grow, to learn and to even try to enjoy our time spent learning. Redesign parts of your house to be more conducive to study with library wall tapestries, exercise equipment etc.
With that in mind try saying the following out loud:
It is not my job to decide if I pass or fail
It's my job to learn to enjoy learning
It's my job to continue to learn how to learn
It's my job to keep growing and I will
Whether or not I pass or fail is beyond my control
And thus I focus my time only on solutions, and that solution is study
If I pass great, if I don't, life goes on
I am comfortable facing the unknown because I am preparing to face it effectively
I enjoy studying
I'm good at studying
I remember that which I study
And in my study I gain building abilities to better make a difference in the world
I am the peaceful river who cares not for it's obstacles but only it's solutions
There is honestly nothing cooler than getting smarter, more educated and more able. Yet something very strong within us seems to drain our energy and ability to study, our ability to focus and our ability to remember the limited things we barely managed to read.
Fight or flight mode literally turns off our memory and cognitive reasoning. It also takes an exorbitant amount of energy away from us, often the very energy that we needed to have done something about that which was stressing us.
There's a reason why students that don't stress about the test, tend to do better. Fight or flight is simply shutting down their memory and ability to learn.
Just like in the combat of wellness, any goal that we are interested in achieving, we have to become at ease at not making it. Just like the actor that goes into an audition stressed out about whether or not they get the role, they simply won't get it because they'll be too busy worrying about how well they're doing, instead of just being in the moment.
Beginning in your journey to overcome stress, there are a few more helpful things to remember for study.
If you're not able to spend some time each day meditating, it will be equally hard to spend time studying. We will soon have a page just on meditation and we hope that you give it a serious read. In life we can often feel our ability to succeed at anything slip away when it's actually our ability to do nothing that's slipping through our grasp. Meditation is actually a bit more than nothing as it's practicing focus on the breath. The skill of focus is equally needed in study. But there's something powerful about the breath that most miss. Learn more about it HERE.
As a summary, every athlete depends heavily upon the power of the breath to both remain calm and be able to function. A boxer will breathe out when struck in the stomach to prevent injury to their lungs and to get a little help withstanding that blow.
Practice having a nice friend gently put their fist against your stomach and breath out when they make contact.
Next, when they raise their hand it will represent internal feelings of insecurity and self doubt. That's equally an attack. Now when they raise their hand, breathe out. Go on, give it a try.
Breathing is not just breath. It's a power that all athletes continue to master to the point of spending time in oxygen chambers and so on to better harness it's power.
When you begin to feel like you cant do it. Like you may not make it. May not be smart enough, special enough and so on.
Take the breath and carry on
The approach to study should also be of design. It's not really feasible to just open a book and start reading. A few other actions should happen before and after. For example, staying away from foods that are inflammatory, processed or high in sugars will make it possible to study longer and better. While eating foods that are healthy and contain healthy sugars will also better support the study ahead.
We are either "successful" with our taste buds or the rest of life. (Splurging is ok until it becomes the diet)
How well we approach our nighttime routine will also affect how alert and focused we will be the next day. And thus working to prevent any serious discussions, distractions, unhealthy food etc. will go a long way in helping our battle. In our house we have this rule, as we also recognize that there really ins much we can do about problems then create a note for the next day anyway. If we can also spend time before bed doing stretches, meditation, a hot bath and so on then we'll be better equipped to succeed. If you have any highly sore muscles throw a damp towel in the microwave for a few minutes till its warm (not hot) and use it to massage the muscle. Overly tight muscles won't just lessen sleep, they can prevent it entirely. Some planks, sit ups and back work before bed can also help with sleep. Maxed out at 20% of what you can do. Believe it or not, it actually takes muscle to sleep well. If we find that we're getting bedsores as we sleep, or we need to toss and turn at night, that simply means we need to do more planks, swimming and core exercises so that our muscles can be strong enough to remain comfortable despite prolonged pressure upon them. The better the bed, the less shape we need to be in. And thus a better bed isn't always the answer over better health.
Affirmations, as above, can help out a lot as well since our brains will tend to believe what we push it to believe. So spending time saying "I'm a great student, I'll remember all of this and I love to study" will actually help our minds begin to work for us and support our endeavors to study, even if we feel like liars as we work to change our language.
Peppermint essential oils can help us feel more alert, while lavender essential oils can help reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety. In the world of color therapy, being around orange and yellow colors are known to increase memory.
At our home, we remodeled the main office to look more like a library and we'll play library atmospheric music with classical caffe music on the side. And none of this has to take up much time to do. They key is that whatever our goal is, instead of worrying about it, we arm ourselves with multiple strategies to give ourselves the best chance at succeeding at it. Including study.
Finally, if you ever hit a part of your studies that seems difficult to grasp, first seek out any parts you may have misunderstood, like words, supportive data etc, then try studying it while walking or on a treadmill and you'll find your brains ability to grasp it multiplies ten fold. Sections that felt too heavy and complicated read far easier. Which is why we turned the master bedroom into the study/ exercise room.
Since exercise is shown to improve cognitive ability, we've found it very helpful to do a few stretches, easy weighted deadlifts, and arm twists a little every hour or so. In addition to trying to get 30min a day of walking/cardio which is shown to help virtually every area of life.
When you think about it, one of the most exciting things in life is the action of getting smarter, wiser and more able.
Lets stop letting stress and poor study prep and approach keep us from our better selves any longer.