Healthy Body + Good Environment = Success
Guest Post by Rick and Teena Kamal
As you endeavor to improve your study skills, it is imperative to take a holistic approach to the process. While knowing how to study is the main focus for most students, there are several other factors that directly relate to your ability to study successfully. As a student, you must take care of your physical self and maintain good health in addition to creating a beneficial study environment to significantly increase your learning and concentration capabilities. When you combine a healthy body with a good environment, you are on a fast track to success.
Having a Healthy Body to House a Sharp Mind
Knowing how to study is great, but if you don’t have the energy or ability to concentrate and learn the information effectively, you can’t achieve success. Eating healthy foods and getting the proper amount of exercise and rest is essential to the study skills equation. Once you learn how to practice good health through diet, sleep, and exercise, you are one step closer to becoming successful in the classroom. Here are some tips to help guide you along your journey:
- Your brain is your study skills central station. Give it the best fuel you can by eating only wholesome and healthy foods. Foods that are closest to their natural state are much better for your brain than processed and packaged foods. Choose foods that are in their whole form whenever possible, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and natural products, such as milk, eggs, nuts, legumes, and fresh fish fillets.
- Eat a balanced diet as you learn how to study. Strive to eat five mini-meals to keep you at an optimal energy level throughout the day. The key to a balanced diet is to consume fewer portions of complex carbohydrates and greater amounts of lean proteins. Foods with simple carbohydrates such as refined white sugar and bleached white flour, for instance, break down into the bloodstream immediately as glucose, sending your energy levels through the roof. As a result, your energy also rapidly falls leaving you even more sluggish than you were to begin with. Therefore, choose complex carbs, which include whole grains such as popcorn and brown rice. These take much longer to digest and are often accompanied with dietary fiber to keep you satisfied for a longer period of time. Choosing lean proteins ensures that you are not getting too much saturated fat that will bog down your digestion and leave you feeling tired.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Not only is this beverage the least expensive, but it is also the best choice for your body. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, add a slice of cucumber or a sprig of fresh mint. Steer clear of energy drinks or sports drinks, both of which provide too much sugar and synthetic chemicals that are unhealthy for your body. Say ‘no’ to caffeinated drinks; caffeine is a stimulant similar to sugar that makes your energy skyrocket rapidly only to send you crashing with a headache afterwards. Skip the vicious cycle and limit black or pekoe teas, and forgo coffee drinks altogether.
- Make exercise a regular habit along with your study skills, and soon you will be learning how to study with greater success. Exercise stimulates blood flow, generates brain cells, and sends feel-good chemicals called endorphins into your bloodstream. No matter how busy you are with your newfound study skills, you should incorporate at least 2 1/2 hours of physical activity in your week. This equates to five half-hour sessions in a seven day stretch. As you develop a plan of how to study, incorporate physical exercise into your schedule. If you don’t like to ‘exercise,’ find ways to do this without hitting the gym or aerobics class. Go on an evening walk with a partner to chat and unwind from a day of class. Invest in an exercise ball that can be used as your desk chair, both an effective way to focus while studying and to keep your body engaged and active.
- Sleep is another important element of healthy study skills. Even if you have a difficult time finding enough time to get adequate rest, you should maintain a consistent sleeping routine. This allows your body to fall asleep more easily so you spend less time tossing and turning and more time in a deep and restful sleep. If you must take naps, limit these to a 15-minute power nap once per day. Naps longer than 15 minutes can interfere with your nighttime sleep pattern. Sleep is crucial to retain what you learn and process new information. It should be a tool used by all students strategically to lock in information they learn. Don’t sacrifice your sleep, especially before your tests, since it may adversely impact your retention and judgment.
- Improve Your Study Environment
- Now that you have conditioned your body and mind to an optimal performance level, you have a head start on how to study. We can now go on to working on your study environment. It is crucial that you maintain a favorable studying environment when practicing your study skills. However, your study environment is not limited to your desk. Check out these tips to prepare an optimal learning environment:
- Start with your bed. This should only be used for resting and sleeping. You want to keep your bed clean and tidy, as well as without clutter, so that when you are ready to go to bed you don’t have to spend half an hour getting into the bed itself.
- Keep your room temperature at a comfortable level. Use a thermostat if possible, or add a fan or an electric heater to help you maintain a cool temperature.
- Maintain bright lighting either by adding more light fixtures or by using a brighter bulb in order to optimize your study skills. Use a desktop lamp that has a swivel arm to help you illuminate your textbooks or notepad. Be sure that you are able to block out, or turn off, all light when you are sleeping.
- A large work area, such as a table, is ideal to adjoin to an open desk that contains drawers. This provides you with plenty of space to work as well as storage for your office supplies. Keep your desk area clean and clutter-free to promote positive study skills. Always study at your desk, to program your mind to focus on your schoolwork whenever you approach your study desk.
Whenever you think of ways to improve your study skills, consider all of the different things that go into knowing how to study. It is very important to have a healthy mind and body that is capable of studying as well as a good study environment to go to in order to achieve the optimal success in learning. Each part of this study skills equation can be improved in simple steps; as you complete these steps on a regular basis, you are one step closer to academic success.
About the Authors: Study and life skills experts Rick and Teena Kamal founded EduNova to prepare students to lead and thrive in the global economy. They worked with 33 top university education experts and many successful senior executives to produce resources that empower middle school, high school and college students to succeed. Learn more at www.HowToStudyBest.com.