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5 Tips To Prepare For Exams

5 Tips To Prepare For Exams

The end of spring and the beginning of summer is where the nightmare begins for most students. Burning the midnight oil, as they say, as we sit and cram a whole semester’s worth of topics into 2 days. Tensions run high as we sit in groups in the library trying to catch up with everyone else. As we lean upon one another to help and grow together, the cooperation that was absent throughout the semester happens overnight. This is the time where everyone becomes allies; this is the time of final exams.

However, during this time is when many fail to realize that being calm and collective is the key to concentration and successfully getting through finals. Here are a few pointers that might help you get through your finals and move on to an amazing summer.

1. Choose An Appropriate Study Time.

Our bodies are unique. Therefore, our biological clocks are programmed differently too. That means that adapting your routine to everyone else’s can bring you more harm than good. As your body suffers from trying to force itself to absorb all the information, you’ll eventually tire yourself out and the whole session won’t be as productive.

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Alternatively, it would be best if you create your own study time. Observe yourself at the times you’re highly productive and align your study periods then. This will increase your efficiency and you’ll be able to carry on the same energy flow for a longer period. This methodology also increases your ability to concentrate, hence you needn’t worry about forgetting what you’ve learned.

2. Keep Sweets Of Different Colors And Flavors With You.

Sweets are one of the world’s great gifts. As the delicious, sugary goodness oozes down your throat, you realize what a good day feels likes. Also, you may not have known that munching on sweets while studying allows you to increase your attention span. This gives you the ammunition to concentrate longer and remember better.

There’s also something called “association memory,” where your memory associates what you taste, smell, or feel with a particular memory. Keeping this in mind, munching on something sweet with either varied colors or tastes will allow you to associate that particular subject with the sweet. Then, during the exams, your subconscious memory will trigger the knowledge needed for you to ace that paper — just don’t forget to take the sweets with you to your exam!

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3. Prioritize Leisure Breaks While Studying.

After being trapped in a study room for days, a breath of fresh air can be bliss to the soul. Picture studying as keeping our mind in a library with constructed concrete information where creativity is on hold. Our mind keeps running on the treadmill of information and it eventually tires itself. This is exactly when you start losing your concentration and focus on whatever it is that you’re doing.

Huge companies such as Google have created various spaces for activities that allow your mind to breathe again, as a way of inducing a more efficient workforce. Why don’t you create your own time for leisure too? It could be binge reading your favorite novels, catching up on your favourite series, or making a good meal to treat yourself — just do something to get your mind off studying for a short period of time.

4. Have A Hot Flask Next To You.

Have you noticed that in most Hollywood movies, you find a group of students sitting in a corner studying while sipping on a mug of coffee or a huge pot of tea? There’s an interesting reason for this. Studies have shown that taking the time to slow down while studying allows your brain to digest information better compared to the normal robotic munching of information.

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Keep a hot flask with you and take a sip of your favorite beverage while studying. Even though you’re down to the wire, rushing the process doesn’t quite help — even if you’ve completed all the chapters. Instead, enjoy your beverage while going through the process of learning — what could be better than making learning a fun and relaxing activity?

5. Have A Great Playlist.

They say always save the best for last, and the one recommendation which every student knows is to have a great playlist of songs which tender the mood. Music is related to associated memory and it can also calm your now-speeding mind. This gives you the centered emotion you need to overcome each chapter of your studies.

Have a playlist of calm studying music — there are many on YouTube and Spotify — and listen to it while you’re studying. It can help you lose track of time and forget just how long you’ve been hitting the books. In other words, music helps in tricking your mind to work more.

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If you have a great playlist set before flipping through your books, studying will seem a lot less like work.

Even though finals is a time when as students we feel suffocated, using various adapting mechanisms can make this period a breeze. After all, this process is part of enjoying life as a student and the evolution of you as a person. As they say, first come finals, then comes summer.

Featured photo credit: Students Studying via az616578.vo.msecnd.net

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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