EducationSkills

Have a big test coming up? Working on a project with others? Study groups can be a very effective – and fun! – way to further your education. Studying with others provide the opportunity to make sure you didn’t miss out on any pertinent information and to learn from one another if a certain topic is confusing to you. It also allows you to explain concepts to others, which helps you better remember the information.

Run a productive study group with these techniques:

Create a Study Guideline before the Meeting

Email everyone in the Study Group an outline for the meeting. If there’s a topic you’re focusing on, or if it’s a broad overview of everything that might be on a test, break the meeting down by half hour or hour so that you can all stay on track. This way, people know what to expect when they come to the study group. Also, if there are any missing topics or terms, they can be filled into the guideline before everyone meets.

Pinpoint Confusing Concepts

Utilize the Study Group time to focus on confusing concepts. Go over the class lessons as a whole, but spend more time on topics that are more challenging. Try explaining the concepts to each other – saying what you need to know out loud will help you remember it later on.

Arrive Prepared

Don’t show up to Study Groups not having looked over the material. You want to be a participating member and offer your knowledge. Avoid joining the study group just to sit back and check your notes. Help others on topics they might be fuzzy about. Arrive ready to have a conversation and to prepare for the upcoming test or project.

Divvy Up Responsibilities

Before everyone meets for the Study Group, dividing responsibilities is a great way to relieve some of the burden of studying. Each week someone can take on the responsibility of being the leader of the Study Group, or you can designate just one person, and he or she can break down the topics that need to be covered and who is in charge of each one. If one person in the Study Group is more knowledgeable in the History of the Atomic Model, another person is better at explaining the Periodic Table, and you understand the Ionic and Metallic Bonding, you can all work together to teach other these topics. Play up your strengths to help yourself and others.

Limit Study Group Size

To prevent too much socialization and to make sure everyone has a chance to participate, limit the Study Group size to four to six people. This way everyone’s voice can be heard and it doesn’t become too overwhelming. Study with classmates who share the same goal of earning good grades. This isn’t social hour or a gossip group, so choose to study with people who want to focus and learn.

Make the Timing of Meetings Manageable

In order not to get burned out, overwhelmed, or easily distracted, make the Study Group meetings no more than two hours, with a ten minute break. It’s better to meet for two hours twice a week than four hours once a week. You’ll all be more productive and more time to study and sort out what questions you have. Meet in your school’s library, a local coffee shop, in an empty classroom, or outside on the grass – somewhere that is conducive to paying attention and being able to hear one another.

Eliminate Distractions

This isn’t the time for everyone to be on their phones texting or listening to music. Put phones, laptops, and other devices away. Use the time you have to stay focused and on target. This is the time to pick each other’s brains about confusing concepts, so make the most of it!

Bring Snacks

During your short break, it never hurts to have a granola bar or piece of fruit on hand. Stay energized during this power hour(s) of Study Group.

What tips do you have for running productive Study Groups?

Image by Breather

Health

Have you ever come across that person who is always complaining, gossiping, or making negative comments? Before identifying him or her, it can be very difficult to stay away from responding with negativity. Negative people like negative company. Constantly dealing with people who bring negativity into your life or who never fail to bring you down in some way are the kinds of people you should consider weeding out of your life. If these are people you ultimately can’t escape, there are ways to distance yourself without being harsh or rude.

Law of Attraction

The law of attraction notes that “likes attract likes” and if you focus on positive thoughts you will find yourself with a positive outcome. Now, consider applying this concept in another form. If you openly display certain qualities or interests, you are likely to attract people who are also interested in those same things. This, after discerning that you want to surround yourself with new people, is the first step of attracting people who are likely to understand you and who share similar traits.

Farewell to Your Comfort Zone

This one is difficult but very important. Many of us do not enjoy leaving our comfort zones because, well, it is no longer a comfortable place. However, leaving your comfort zone is the only way to achieve goals and stand out from the conventional – it is vital in life. It also allows you to get comfortable with what was once uncomfortable, therefore making your life a constant cycle that pushes you to try new things. Try joining a new club, traveling somewhere with a program, sitting somewhere else for lunch, or even inviting people you’ve never spent time with (outside of school or work) for lunch. Branching out is essential in trying to make new relationships.

Make Time for Yourself

Aside from trying out new activities, having some time for yourself is also an important component to this transformative time in your life. Allowing yourself to think alone and reflect on your experiences will bring you to identify the parts of your life you wish to alter. It allows you to make calm, well thought out decisions.

Focus on Work or School

Focusing on work or school is a great way to concentrate on the things that are important. In addition, it only leaves time for few people which allows you realize that quality time is meant for quality people. This is an easier method for not only distancing yourself from negative people, but it is also a great way to appreciate the people who matter most in your life.

Start Acting Positive

Almost like my law of attraction point, you can attract positive people if you begin to act positive. After you hear the typical, “I hate Monday, I wish it were Friday,” you can either not respond to it by changing the topic or you can respond with positivity by noting, “Really? I don’t mind them – they’re like any other day.” Like I previously mentioned, negative people like to feed off of other negative people. You will be surprised as to how quickly people will begin to catch on to this mindset. Being positive can: 1. Help positivity flourish in those around you, and 2. Repel negative people. Both of these are helpful for achieving your goal.

Staying positive is not only a mood booster, but it is also necessary for your physical health. Do yourself a favor and begin changing the parts of your life that will help you become a better person. The steps may be unfamiliar but you can’t go wrong in trying!

How do you add positivity into your life?

P.S. Journaling and living inside out can also help you live a more positive life.

Image: Bảo-Quân Nguyễn

CultureSkills

Oh, the plight of being nice. Kind. Polite. Harmless. Growing up, you’ve been told to put others first and give more than you receive. And kudos to all of the nice folks out there, you’re the heart-warmer of the group. The one that people go to for validation and encouragement. The one that would rather maintain harmony than cause a scene. People of the world appreciate nice people because of their willingness to help and listen. As a self-certified nice person, I will be the first to tell you that niceness, as fulfilling and pleasant as it may be, also comes with some serious baggage. Behold, the pros and cons of being nice:

DoNicePeopleFinishLast

The nice-person quandary is a tricky one. People begin to expect a certain level of empathy and consideration at all times. Think about the co-worker who assumes you’ll always take more work, or the peer that seems to always direct their favors to you, certain that you’ll make time for them. This makes being innately compassionate a draining distinction. It’s because of this that nice people finish last, in a sense that they put everyone before themselves. While the kindness gene in your body is screaming for you to save the world, there are situations in which you’d be better off passing up or confronting. So, how can you stay true to your caring nature yet create an air of authority?

Surround yourself with people that operate with a competitive edge.

They say you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Now this doesn’t mean you should outright ditch your core friend group, but spend more time than you usually would with people who react differently than you do. Try to examine how other people decline requests. Do they feel the need to explain why they are saying no? Are they steady in their response and apologetic only when need be? Know your boundaries when accepting opportunities to provide help. It’s also essential to command a presence that says you do more than just support, you can lead. Observe as many leadership styles as possible. Listen to how leaders at work, school, or in your community balance being assertive with being respected.

Maintain focus on your needs to succeed.

And furthermore, don’t feel guilty about it.

Nice people feel torn between serving others and tending to their own needs. If we start doing things that only benefit ourselves, we assume it’s out of selfishness. This is the nice person’s kryptonite. Realize that making yourself a priority is not selfish, but a sign of decisiveness and self-love. It is a true gift to be a thoughtful and intentional person. Keep that essence but be firm in your kindness, and never forget that being nice to yourself is a very good thing.

Image: Unsplash

HealthSkills

Every one of us has a tendency to get stressed or anxious; it is a part of human nature. A little bit of stress can actually be a great thing, but as humans we are usually inclined to over-indulge our emotions, even the nasty ones. However, appeasing one’s nerves can prove to be an arduous task. What I have found with my recent exploration of yoga, which I’m enrolled in at school as a gym credit, is that the “ocean breath” that yogis use when meditating and going through the motions of many of their moves is actually quite relaxing.

For example, I have struggled with being able to sleep on a normal schedule for a long time. I will stay up too late listening to music or watching television and those lyrics and story arcs plague my subconscious as I try to fall asleep. Recently, though, I started using Ujjahi breath – the formal term for “ocean breath”- to help focus myself and tire my mind late at night.

Ujjahi breath has been a staple in many forms of meditation and even in yogic positions of movement to help focus oneself on the task at hand. The reason it is nicknamed “ocean breath” is because the sound made when performing it resembles the sound of the crashing ocean waves. When practicing Ujjahi breath, inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose, and as the air passageway narrows and air moves the glottis, a rushing sound is created. There is no specific amount of time you are supposed to breathe for – leave that up to how much your diaphragm can take in and let out. However, try to make sure that your inhalations and exhalations are as equal in length as possible.

Ujjahi breath enables practitioners to maintain a set bodily rhythm, take in enough oxygen, as well as build up energy, and stay self-aware and grounded in yogic practices and in everyday life. So, if you feel as though you are struggling with keeping your cool, try this breath and hopefully begin to understand your body’s natural rhythms and needs.

Image: Unsplash

EducationSkills

The stress levels are high and the amount of time to study for tests and get the last assignments of the semester finished are extremely low. Many of you are probably pulling all-nighters and downing cup after cup of coffee just to stay awake. It’s going to feel like a long last couple of weeks before we’re officially finished with this semester, but once we get through our last days of classes, we can take our finals and go home.

But getting through these tough times are easier said than done. This is why I’m here to help you rock finals week. The better you do on your exams, the better you’ll feel about dedicating so much of your time to study.

Here are some of the things that I like to do to prepare for Finals week:

  • Take naps – a well-rested brain is a higher performing one. While all-nighters can be beneficial to you, you can’t focus on much of anything if you didn’t get much sleep. It’s also harder to retain the information you learned.
  • Stay focused – I know you don’t need anyone to tell you this, but I know how easy it is to get distracted. One minute you’re practicing math problems and the next you’re on Facebook. If you find yourself losing focus, maybe try new methods of studying or if you’ve been studying for one test for hours, maybe try studying for another one. You don’t have to spend hours doing this but make sure you do spend a few hours focused. Remove all of the distractions if necessary or study in a quiet place like the library.
  • Form study groups – Sometimes it helps having other people in your class around when you’re studying so if you need help you don’t have to go too far to get it.
  • Listen to classical music – There are a lot of studies that say that classical music helps you retain more information and others that say it doesn’t really help with anything, but I personally listen to classical music when I’m studying to a.) Block out distracting noise and b.) To help lower my stress levels. If you’ve never listened to classical music while studying, please give it a try. I recommend making a classical music station on Pandora.

Also, here are some things to do before you take your finals:

  • Eat a balanced breakfast – This is a tip for the day of your exams. If you can, try to have a nice, big meal for breakfast. It’s not good to start your day off with an empty stomach, especially before an exam.
  • Use the bathroom – I know this might seem like common sense, but some people just want to get their finals over and done with that they forget to go to the bathroom, even if they don’t think they have to go at the moment.
  • Got a cold? – Bring cough drops and tissues. You never know when you might need them.
  • Wear comfortable clothes – No need to get dressed up to take a test. Break out the sweats and the comfy shirts with the long sleeves. Don’t bother brushing your hair or really doing anything to fix your appearance. It’s final week! You have a right to be as casual as you want to be.
  • Believe in yourself – You’re only going to do as good as you think you’re going to do so think good thoughts and try your best to stay positive.
  • It’s only a test – I don’t like not getting good grades on my finals, but I always remind myself that it’s just an exam and it’s not a reflection of my intelligence.

Finals week is really stressful and it can seem like it’ll never end, but it will. Just remember to treat yourself well during this time. Eat three (healthy) meals. Get a good amount of sleep. And stay positive. Study as much as you can and just do the best that you can.  Soon this will all be behind us and next semester will be a clean slate.

Good luck everyone! Rock those finals!

Image: Ryan McGilchrist

Education

Autumn has finally rolled around, which means that in addition to leaves, sweaters, and the smell of cinnamon and maple in every coffee shop, we are also about to be hit with hard deadlines, stacks of work, and plenty of assignments with overlapping due dates. That calls for a playlist that can get you settled in and ready to accomplish your looming tasks.

If you’re anything like me, you like to get work done in different kinds of environments. Sometimes I need complete silence, other times I perform well when there’s a miscellaneous ambiance of strangers, and once in a while I like to throw in some headphones and mark off my to-do list with the help of an awesome playlist.

The playlist below has been carefully curated by yours truly (but I won’t be offended if you switch out or remove any of these selections). I like these tunes because they all have a steady but upbeat vibe, and flow together well when I don’t want to be distracted by the sudden jolt of a Top 40-get-up-and-dance jam.

(Click on the photo to view in full screen.)

workplaylistcarpe

Good luck with your exams, papers, deadlines, and meetings this season. You’re doing amazing things!

For more daily inspiration, follow Carpe on Twitter. See you there!

Image: Death to the Stock Photo

Health

Last week I talked about the benefits of meditation and the roadblocks that keep many people from getting started. In a nutshell, it’s a wonderful way to find freedom from anxieties, negativity and certain ailments. So you might be motivated to get it going. But how?

I’ll walk you step-by step through a first-time meditation sequence. The type of meditation I’m going to outline is called mindfulness meditation; it’s a simple technique and a great place to start. It will help you be more mindful (duh) of your feelings and desires, and allow you to cultivate or work through them more easily than you would if you were not practicing mindfulness.

Your first time meditating should be short and sweet – enough to at least immerse yourself a little, but not so long that you get bored and discouraged. I recommend allotting about ten minutes to begin, but even this can be intimidating if you have no idea what you’re doing or a short attention span, so five minutes is ok, too. And just follow along!

1. Find somewhere comfortable and where you won’t be interrupted.

I like to sit on the edge of my bed with my feet on the floor and hands in my lap. Find somewhere you can sit this way, where people aren’t likely to bother you. Background noise, even if it’s loud, is ok; being jarred out of your thoughts by sudden disruptions is not!

2. Sit with feet on the floor and hands in your lap or on your thighs.

Find a happy medium between rigid and lounging; keep your back straight and shoulders back, but don’t freak out about having perfect posture. To keep you straight and still you can try imagining your head aligning with a point in the sky.

3. Breathe, imagine a sense of calm.

Before closing your eyes, think about yourself in a peaceful place and state of mind. Take a few deep breaths.

4. Close your eyes when you’re ready, and take a few more deep breaths.

Focus on the up and down of your breathing, wherever that is in your body. Imagine inhaling calm and exhaling stress or negativity. Once you’ve taken several deep breaths, return to your normal breathing pattern, in your nose and out your mouth.

5. Body scan.

Do a mental scan of your body; I like to start at my head and move downward, but feel free to start at your feet, stomach, wherever. As you move down, up or out, focus on the way each body part feels. Are some areas tense? Are some relaxed? Just notice, don’t try to fix it. Take as long as you need for this; it may take several minutes.

6. Emotional scan.

As you do the body scan, you will begin to notice the underlying emotions you’re feeling. It may be obvious or you may have to look for it. Are you anxious? Sad? Happy, free, peaceful? Again, just notice. Don’t judge or try to change it.

7. Return focus to breath.

Sit for several minutes (I’d say up three to five) with yourself. Don’t force your mind to be blank. Instead, if you realize your mind has wandered off, gently label it as ‘thinking’ and bring the focus back to your breathing. You can count your breaths if it helps.

8. Let your mind go.

For about 15-30 seconds (but don’t strictly time this, just approximate) let your mind wander free. This feels longer than it sounds. Let your mind think or sing or be blank, whatever it wants. No effort. You may get frustrated by this at first; don’t worry. It’ll get easier and easier to let go the more you practice.

9. Bring it back to breathing.

Bring it back again to your breath and physical body. Just allow yourself to re-acclimate to your physical surroundings. How do you feel?

10. Open eyes when ready.

Take your time breathing before doing this if you need. There have been times I’ve needed to keep my eyes closed and remain focused on my breathing for another 15 minutes, and times I’ve been immediately ready to return to my physical environment.

Congrats!

That’s it. Nothing super difficult, nothing ridiculous. Just sitting with yourself.

You may be confused at first or unsure whether you even feel any different. You may be sure you don’t feel different. Just keep at it. As you continue meditating, you’ll begin to understand your feelings, become able to sense them more effortlessly and manage them with ease.

I hope mindfulness meditation helps you in your journey, whatever it may be, and that you are able to more fully live and discover yourself through it! Most of all, I hope it helps you find freedom from anxieties and health issues.

Any meditators out there have other advice or suggestions for getting the most out of meditation?

Image: Jesus Solana, Flickr

LearnSkills

I recently just wrapped up my very last class in an 8-week series of Tango classes. For many years, I have always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance. I saw the movie Shall We Dance? and was in awe by how fun dancing looked. I am in no way graceful or coordinated, so I knew taking any kind of dance class would be challenging. I did some research, found an 8-week Tango class, and decided to go for it.

I ended up loving every minute of it, and even though I was correct in that it would be a challenge, I loved putting myself out there to learn a new skill. I can now Tango, and even though I am still at a beginner’s level, I am better than I was eight weeks ago. In addition to learning the steps and how to position my arms, I learned a lot about myself in this class series. There are aspects to dancing that are similar to life, and I made the connections as I was (awkwardly) gliding across the dance floor.

These are the 9 things I learned from Tango class:

1. The power of repetition.

At the beginning of every class, we would do exercises back and forth across the dance floor. Even though it got repetitive, the point was to take the next step better than the previous step. Dancing is all about getting the steps down, and through practice and repetition, the steps become part of your muscle memory. Through this repetition, my feet and body started to understand the way the dance was performed. After just two classes, I held my arms up in a different way than the very first class without thinking twice. As you do things over and over with intention, you get better at them.

2. Get in the zone and focus.

When you are dancing with your partner, it is important to be in the moment. The second your mind starts to wander, toes are stepped on and the entire rhythm is thrown off. When you are dancing, or working on a project or task, give it your 100% attention so you can do it well.

3. Embarrass yourself, and then laugh about it.

Staring at yourself dancing in front of a mirror that covers an entire wall is not easy, especially when you don’t actually know how to dance. When you’re just starting out, you are going to look silly sometimes, and you are going to make mistakes. When you feel embarrassed or bad about it, just look around you. Everyone else there is learning how to dance, as well. You are all in the same boat. Laugh it off, and move on. This applies to most things in life, not just dancing. Whether it’s public speaking, a sports game, or something you are learning by yourself, just know that when you can laugh at yourself if you make a mistake, you have already succeeded.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

Okay, so you embarrassed yourself and messed up on a step. Say sorry to your dance partner for stepping on his or her toe, and learn from the mistake. Focus, figure out what you could have done better, and then don’t make the mistake again. It feels so great when you get a complicated step right.

5. Quick-quick-slow.

There are a couple of steps in tango that require a quick-quick-slow rhythm. This means that you step quickly twice, and then take the third step slowly. Then repeat. As I was learning how to do the “media luna,” where you move around your dance partner in a quick-quick-slow circle, stepping forwards and backwards, I couldn’t help but think about how much it resembled my life at the time. A lot of things happened all at once, and then all of a sudden everything slowed down. Sure enough, the next week my life was back to being quick-quick, and then slow. Things will get hectic, busy, and overwhelming, but if you stick with it and keep moving forward, your life will calm down and you can breathe again.

6. Use feedback to your advantage.

When I was making mistakes with my footwork or body positioning, my teachers would identify what I was doing wrong and help me fix it. They are there to help me become a better dancer and to learn the proper way of dancing the Tango, so why would I get annoyed with their feedback? Use feedback to your advantage and excel.

7. Stay on your toes.

Not physically, but metaphorically speaking. There are routine steps that you will learn in dance, but every now and then, your dance partner will switch up a move just to keep you on your toes. It’s when you get too comfortable and your mind starts drifting that you will mess up the last-minute switch. Just as in life, get into a rhythm and routine that works for you, but every now and then, switch things up to keep life fresh. Stay on your toes and improvise.

8. Learn how to follow.

As someone who works hard to be a leader, it isn’t always easy to be a follower. When I Tango, I am the follower. I take directions from my dance partner, who is the Lead. At first this was difficult, and I would be pushing and pulling to try and move in the direction I wanted to go. However, when it comes to Tango, I had to learn how to trust my leader and follow his steps and direction. While the two dance partners are a team, one person takes more control of the situation. When I finally learned how to follow my Lead, we would be gliding across the dance floor. It was a pretty cool feeling.

9. Step outside the comfort zone.

None of these lessons would have been learned if I hadn’t stepped outside of my comfort zone in the first place. I signed up for these Tango classes without a friend or dance partner. I embarrassed myself in front of strangers, had no one to laugh about it with except myself, and I can honestly say it was awesome. These Tango classes were something that I did for myself, to follow through on my interest, and to learn a new skill that I’ve wanted to experience for the longest time. If you want to learn how to do something or if there’s a class you want to take but you can’t find anyone to go or do it with you, just do it by yourself! When you don’t have the distraction of a friend, you really can focus on personal growth and learning more about yourself.

Culture

When the lights went down on stage and the guitars started to hum behind the darkness, Carpe Juvenis could tell something special was about to happen. The jittery, high-strung excitement in the back room of Brooklyn’s Trash Bar was magnified by the cheers from fans and bright, random flashes of light from cell phone cameras.

As the lights went up, lead singer Connor Frost belted out the opening line of “Where Are the Children” from the debut 2012 album Sundial, and the crowd went wild. They seemed to be absorbing every note and beat of the drum, bopping and swaying to the jam. Tonight would be all about the music.

Dizzy Bats are unique because their punk-rock vocals and high-energy tempos are still relatable, enjoyable, and accessible to a listener who is unfamiliar with the intricacies and style of the genre. Take the track “These Kids I Teach,” for example, with its raw lyrics and straightforward attitude; the song has a vibe of its own that invites new listeners in and keeps the old fans wanting more.

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Following closely on the heels of his solo-West-coast tour, Frost shares with Carpe that he feels “more excitement around Dizzy Bats’ music in general” and that his latest tour “was unbelievably rewarding.” His gratitude and enthusiasm were both felt at the Girls 7” Release Party as the band opened up for the wildly popular Chicago-based funk/soul/rhythm group whysowhite.

Carpe dug around for some behind-the-show information and found out that each set list is fine tuned to take the audience on a ride. There is a certain “ebb and flow” Frost creates to hype the listeners up, mellow them out a bit, and then “amp the crowd back up” as he finished with a popular tune that everyone has been waiting for. That last song at this show was “Appendectomy” from the 2013 album release with the same name.

Something special is happening with Dizzy Bats – with a brand new album coming out this year and a quality sound making its way across the country, this band is not one to miss out on. Check them out at Bandcamp and iTunes.

Make sure to “Like” Dizzy Bats on Facebook to keep up-to-date on everything Dizzy Bats related!

EducationSkills

With the holiday break so close, studying for finals may not be the most exciting thing on your to-do list. However, exam week is critical and because of its importance, it can cause major stress. For us during finals week – as much as procrastination tried to distract us – starting to study early was super helpful. That way, when our finals test date crept up, we didn’t need to cram all night and we had a little more confidence. As painful as finals week is, you have the power to take control. There are many little useful tricks to help you study – hopefully one of these works for you!

Create a plan.
Before you dive in to your mounds of paperwork, old tests, and study guides, create a clear guideline for the most important topics you’ll need to know for each test. This way, when you spend hours studying, you will be studying the material that will be most useful. Also, set aside hours of your day for studying for each class/test instead of just studying when you feel like it. When you have a clear plan, you’re more likely to follow it.

Take 5-10 minute breaks.
For every 55-60 minutes that you study, take a 5-10 minute study break. Whether you are transitioning between topics or just need to clear your head for a bit, do something completely different to take your mind off of what you spent the last hour reading and practicing. Don’t be fooled, break time is not wasted time.

Designate a study area for a certain period of time, then change it up.
Spend the morning studying history at the library, and then move to a cafe to study English in the afternoon. When you’re back in your dorm or at home that evening, round out your day by practicing math equations at your desk. If you sit in one place all day long, you’ll start to get distracted and bored. Everything will feel like it is blending together. Switch up your environment for a change of scenery and for the walking breaks.

Start studying early.
As hard as it is to avoid procrastination, starting to study early is the best thing you can do for yourself. Since it is no surprise as to when finals are in the year, you can plan out your study days accordingly. Try to give yourself at least one month to study before finals week. During your first week of studying, you won’t necessarily need to buckle down and study as hard as you will in the third and fourth week. Use the first couple of weeks to review all of the material, start from the beginning, and refresh your memory.

Find a focus point.
Designate something to be your source of comfort. For instance, a favorite family photo, your childhood teddy bear, a soft tennis ball to squeeze, or a funny comic strip. Then, when you get anxious or nervous before your test, pull out your little object to bring some laughter, happiness, and focus back into your mind.

Walk/Jog/Dance.
Get those endorphins going! Cardio is good for your memory and health, and a quick dance break might be just what you need to remember a tricky equation or definition.

Laugh. A lot.
Just as you need your cardio break, you also need to laugh! Laughing relives tension and stress, so don’t be shy. Laugh away. Watch a hilarious video your friend sent you, listen to your favorite comedian, or crack a couple of silly jokes with friends.

Talk to your professor.
If you start studying early, you can create a list of questions you may have to ask your teacher. Swing by his or her office hours and discuss anything you might find confusing. Also, be sure to ask in class or during office hours what exactly will be on the test. Your teacher might not be willing to share that information, but it never hurts to ask. When you start early and arrive prepared, you will be more confident come test day.

Memory aids.
Maybe writing equations or definitions down on flash cards will help you remember them. Maybe acting out a Shakespeare scene will help you better understand the themes and major plot points. Turning the capitals of countries you need to memorize into a song or poem will definitely spark a reminder during the test. Do what works for you and be creative!

Study with friends/classmates.
But only if it makes sense for you. You want to study with people who are motivated to learn the material and who have been paying attention in class. Everyone should equally contribute to the conversation or that time spent with a group is just not worth it. If you find a good group to work with, divide up the material between your peers and have everyone come to the study sessions with their sections filled-in with useful information. When the group can help each other and maximize time and be efficient, it is a win-win for everyone involved.

Avoid the dreaded all-nighter.
It might sound tempting to stay up all night before the test to cram that last bit of information. However, if you stay up all night, you’ll be exhausted for your exam the next morning. What you study last-minute the night before will have little impact on your overall knowledge of the content, so it’s better to get eight hours of sleep so you feel refreshed, quick, and comfortable.

Enjoy healthy snacks.
Want to munch on something while you study? Snack on carrots, apples and peanut butter, popcorn, and almonds. Avoid sugary sodas, energy drinks, and too much caffeine, as that will just give you a sugar crash that you did not need.

Breathe.
When you feel your heart starting to race when you’re studying from the anxiety about test day, put everything down and just breathe. You’ve taken tests before, you’ve done the work all quarter/semester, and you’ve read the material. Breathe deeply for a count of 10 seconds, think about positive outcomes only, take a break if you need it, and then get back to work with a more relaxed attitude.

Good luck with your finals! You got this!