How to Stay Motivated to Study Despite Shorter Days and Colder Weather

winter-studying

With the end of daylight savings time comes shorter days and colder weather, and that means even the most ambitious students could find themselves struggling to stay motivated. Some studies suggest that 10% to 20% of the population suffers from some sort of winter depression. Fortunately, there are a few ways for students to keep themselves motivated.

Consider Using a Light Box

Light boxes are commonly used among people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD – a condition that causes mild to severe depression that sets in like clockwork almost every single fall or winter. Even if you do not have SAD, when it gets dark outside at five o’clock in the afternoon, and when the sun doesn’t come back until seven in the morning, it can be difficult to do anything except yawn. A light box is designed to mimic the sun with a bright, warm light. If you choose to go this route, use it for about an hour, and ideally before 10 in the morning.

Get Some Sunshine

When it feels as if you’re spending all your time studying and trying to find time to sleep and eat, getting outside everyday may seem like a challenge. What’s more, experts have shown us that anyone living north of Atlanta simply cannot get their daily dose of vitamin D from the sun in the winter months because the sun simply doesn’t climb high enough in the sky. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go outside at all, though; spending 15 to 30 minutes outside in the sun – or even going out when it’s overcast – can help you feel much better.

Modify Your Diet

Eating enough as a medical student can be tough, and even when you feel as if you are getting the sustenance you need, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting the right kind of sustenance. Try adding foods to your diet that help to reduce inflammation, give you energy, and provide brain-boosting vitamins and minerals. Good options include cinnamon, which has been shown to enhance cognitive ability, and pumpkin seeds, which are known inflammation fighters. Swapping simple carbs like white rice and white bread for their complex whole-grain counterparts can also help keep you energetic throughout the day.

Simplify Your Studying

Of course, when days are shorter and temperatures are colder, going out to study groups or libraries can be difficult to say the least. Utilizing software like the excellent CanadaQBank platform is a great idea for those days when you just don’t feel like getting out – or when you only have a few minutes to study. It’s packed with features designed to help you customize your mock exam or your study session any way you’d like, and the best part is that it’s affordable enough to fit even the most frugal student’s budget.

Keeping yourself motivated to study when it seems dark more than it’s light can be difficult. In fact, as many as 20% of the entire population suffers from some sort of depression triggered by the changing weather. The tips above are sure to help you feel better throughout the day so you can stay motivated to study and pass your licensing exam with flying colors.

Study Session Preparation and Advice from Doctors and Surgeons

medical-students-studying

For every single student just starting medical school or getting ready to take their medical licensing exam or boards, there are dozens of doctors out in the big, wide world who have been in those shoes. Below are some of the best tips and hints for getting the most out of your study sessions from surgeons and doctors around the world.

Classical Music is a Good Study Aid

Though it may seem as if you need perfect quiet to really concentrate on what you’re learning, there are actually studies and articles showing that classical music can help you absorb, retain, and recall more information if you play it at a low to moderate level while studying. Even if you don’t like classical music, think about using Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, or another streaming music service to curate a playlist for you for your next few sessions. You might be surprised by the results.

Eat Before You Study

Other studies and articles have shown that your memory is not as sharp as it should be when you are hungry. Just as you might not remember your fourth grade teacher’s name when your stomach is rumbling, you probably won’t retain or absorb as much information during your study session if you spend much of it wishing you had a taco.  Hunger is triggered by a hormone called ghrelin, and like any other hormone, ghrelin needs a receptor to trigger in order to make you feel those pangs of hunger. Some scientists believe that the ghrelin receptors in your brain exist to augment how your memories work rather than play a metabolic role. Eat before you study if you want to retain more of what you learn.

Dehydration has a Tremendous Effect on Your Brain

If you feel thirsty, then you’re already at least partially dehydrated, and that’s bad news for your brain. Per a study out of the Georgia Institute of Technology, being dehydrated for as little as two hours can have a huge impact on your ability to concentrate, thus rendering your study session useless. The best way to combat this is the same thing you’ve heard since childhood – try your best to remember to drink roughly 64 ounces of water each day – more if you feel thirsty or perspire due to strenuous activity, and less if you are in a humid environment performing sedentary tasks.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff & Move On

Every single medical student since the beginning of time has struggled to understand a specific concept, topic, or group of topics. The reasons for this are many, but despite what your brain might try to tell you, it isn’t because you are incapable of learning. In fact, when you’re really struggling with something at least semi-specific, you may just need to see it from a different perspective. Don’t get upset if you find that you cannot understand a concept during your study session; instead, flag that concept and set a reminder on your phone to ask a professor, mentor, tutor, or fellow student – or to perform a Google search later to peruse forums. All of these are great ideas.

At one point, every licensed surgeon and doctor in the world today – even the most successful ones – were in your shoes, and they were able to pass their exams and go on to enjoy the careers they dreamed of. Whether you try classical music during your study time, make sure to eat a good meal and drink some water beforehand, or do your very best to move on when you’re “stuck” on a topic, each of these things will make your sessions far more productive.

 

3 Unconventional Studying Techniques that May Just Work

Unconventional Studying Techniques

When it comes to being a university student, one thing dominates all areas of study – studying. Students are always looking for new, better ways to study. This is especially true for medical students, who must sustain an admittedly ridiculous amount of knowledge in an extremely limited amount of time.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the numerous basic studying techniques that dominate schooling. But how about trying some slightly unconventional techniques? Here we discuss a few that just might work for you.

1: Fifteen Minutes of Cramming Before Sleep

Science tells us that the brain processes its day backwards. In theory, this means whatever you did last will hold a stronger place in your memory. Using this idea, you can get the most effective studying done in the fifteen minutes before you go to bed.

This doesn’t entirely replace all other times of study. But, if you’re having difficulty remembering something in particular, take fifteen minutes just before you tuck in for the night to read as much information on that subject as possible.

Many people say that using this technique has helped them master the subject areas most difficult for them. If nothing else, it gives students an extra fifteen minutes of studying each day – which can never be a bad thing.

2: Make A Song

Songs get stuck in your head for a reason. They’re catchy, lyrical – all the things your brain is “hooked” on, so to speak. You can leverage this when studying for an upcoming test by turning your notes into a song which can be memorized.

If you look on YouTube, you’ll find that a lot of people have created study songs already. You could luck out and find one that pertains to the subject and/or test you’re already studying for. If not, just get creative and lay a few phrases over your favorite song’s rhythm.

Word of warning, however: don’t randomly burst into song during your test. Instead, sing it in your head and/or quietly (very, very quietly) hum it to yourself.

3: Make it a Game

The last unconventional method of studying is to turn the dull, boring act of studying into a game. This works especially well for people who have naturally competitive personalities. Compete against yourself or a study partner.

A few ideas for study games which will help you to memorize your coursework (while having fun at the same time) include:

  • Who can name the most anatomy parts in three minutes?
  • How many definitions can you accurately recite in five minutes or less?
  • How quickly can you complete a fill-in-the-blank sheet of pharmaceuticals and their definitions?
  • Who can complete a worksheet quickest, with the most accuracy? (Create your own worksheet or find one online)

There is a good chance that one or more of these unconventional studying techniques will work for you. Some students swear by these, while others prefer more conventional methods. The key is to figure out what works best for you.