How to build habits that last the whole term

As the academic year kicks off, students often embark on their journey with enthusiasm, armed with resolutions and grand plans for success. However, the excitement tends to wane as the term progresses, and many find their well-intentioned goals falling by the wayside. To foster lasting success, it's crucial to not only set ambitious targets but also build habits that withstand the challenges of a rigorous school term. Here are four evidence-based strategies to help students create habits that endure:

1. Sleep is the priority..?

One of the most underestimated factors influencing academic performance is sleep. Research published in the journal Sleep shows a strong correlation between sufficient sleep and cognitive functioning. Lack of sleep not only impairs concentration and memory but also affects mood and overall well-being.

Strategy: Establish a consistent sleep schedule. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Create a bedtime routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted by devices can disrupt the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Quality sleep lays the foundation for a successful day of learning and achievement.

2. The way to good grades is through the stomach.

A healthy diet is not just essential for physical well-being; it significantly influences cognitive function and academic performance. The brain requires a steady supply of nutrients to function optimally.

Strategy: Prioritize a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and certain nuts, may positively impact cognitive performance. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary snacks and caffeinated beverages, as they can lead to energy crashes and negatively impact concentration. Additionally, be mindful of carbohydrate intake before studying, as an excess can induce sleepiness. Opt for complex carbohydrates like whole grains, which provide sustained energy without the risk of a post-carb crash. By fueling your body with the right nutrients and avoiding excessive carbs, you provide the energy needed for sustained focus and academic success.

3. Mental Health as a pillar

Academic pressures, social expectations, and the fast-paced nature of student life can take a toll on mental health. Ignoring mental well-being not only hinders academic performance but also affects overall life satisfaction.

Strategy: Incorporate regular mental health practices into your routine. Engage in mindfulness activities, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to reduce stress. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation has been associated with improvements in anxiety and depression symptoms. Prioritize self-care by allocating time for activities you enjoy, whether it's reading, listening to music, or spending time with friends. By nurturing your mental health, you build resilience to face the challenges of the academic term with a clear and focused mind!

4. Sustainability, and Consistency as the keys

Many students start the term with grand study plans but need help to maintain consistency over the long haul. Building a sustainable study routine is crucial for retaining information and avoiding last-minute cramming.

Strategy: Adopt the principle of spaced repetition, a technique supported by research in the Journal of Memory and Language. Instead of cramming, spread your study sessions over time to enhance long-term retention. Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable chunks, utilizing the Pomodoro Technique—working in focused intervals followed by short breaks. This approach not only prevents burnout but also increases overall productivity. Consistency is the linchpin of academic success; by establishing a routine that balances study, rest, and recreation, you create habits that endure the entire term.

In conclusion, the key to a successful academic term lies not only in setting ambitious goals but in cultivating habits that can withstand the challenges of student life. Prioritising sleep, nourishing your body, fostering mental health, and creating a sustainable study routine are evidence-based strategies that, when integrated into your daily life, can lead to lasting success. Remember, small, consistent actions pave the way for significant achievements!

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