COVID19: Tips for Staying Sane and Focused While Studying During Quarantine

Stress reduction has always been key to maximize efficiency and maintain your sanity while studying for the DAT. With the amount of information that needs to be learned for this test, combined with the high-stakes nature of the exam, it’s really easy to get caught up in the pressure of it all.

At best, this can decrease your quality of life while studying for the test, and at worst, it can result in getting burnt out and not even wanting to look at the material. Various stress reduction techniques can both maintain your mental health and increase your studying effectiveness!

Right now, when most of us are stuck inside our homes, techniques for reducing stress have become imperative even for those who aren’t dealing with the stress of studying for a high-stakes exam. Try these techniques to maintain your focus and avoid going stir-crazy while studying in quarantine.

Follow a schedule

Try to pretend you’re leaving the house each day to go study, like when you used to go to the library. Wake up at a standard time, get dressed, and study at a location that mimics the exam environment, like a desk, rather than in your bed or with the TV on in the background. Try to adjust to the new normal as much as you can. Develop a new routine and avoid succumbing to the temptation to lie in bed all day or reorganize your entire house.

An underestimated challenge of quarantine is spending more time than normal with roommates and family members. If your quarantine environment has the potential to be distracting, be sure to take action to limit it. Tell those around you that you’ll be studying for a set number of hours per day, and consider using noise-cancelling headphones to drown out any noise.

Find balance and make time to nurture connections with loved ones

Go outside, practice a hobby, or watch Tiger King with your family. Just because you’re home all the time, and even if you might feel like you should be studying all the time, it’s actually important that you don’t!

Taking time to rest and recharge is just as important as the time you take to study, because it increases your ability to focus and retain information over a long period. For example, if your DAT was recently rescheduled to a date that is a ways away, taking a couple of days off from DAT Bootcamp can provide some renewed vigor to your studying!

Do things that make you happy, including spending time with loved ones – either in-person or virtual. Studying for the DAT is a marathon, not a sprint, and especially with being stuck inside 24/7, it can begin to feel particularly monotonous. So don’t feel guilty for taking time off – you’re doing yourself a service!

Use resources to maintain your physical and mental health

Taking care of yourself both physically and mentally has always been a key to success while studying for the DAT, but it’s crucial now more than ever. I highly recommend using an exercise routine, meditation, and any other stress reduction techniques you find most helpful. Here are some resources that might help:

For boosting your physical health:

  • Reduce stress and relieve muscle tension you’ve built up after studying at a desk all day with 5-minute desk yoga! Check it out here.
  • Explore some of the free workout classes being offered due to the COVID19 pandemic! These will get your heart pumping, take your mind off the stress of studying and quarantine, and improve your focus once you’re done. Here are a few options to get you started:
    • Down Dog: these yoga, barre, and HIIT workout apps are currently accessible for free through July 1st for all users who sign up using a “.edu” email address. Find them on the Apple App Store!
    • Lifetime Fitness: online classes including Zumba, cardio, strength, and yoga are currently free for all in response to COVID19. Check them out on Lifetime’s website.

For supporting your mental health:

  • Headspace: this popular meditation app is available on the App Store, and offers free guided meditations that can help to clear your mind and regain focus.
  • Innovative study techniques: If you find yourself getting burnt out after studying for a few hours or getting distracted every few minutes by your phone, a good method to try is the Pomodoro technique. Ari talks about it here. You can study for 25 minutes, rest for 5 minutes, and repeat, or use different intervals. I like to study starting on the hour for approximately 45-50 minutes, take a break, and start studying again on the hour.
  • Tools for limiting distractions: Several apps, like Forest and Pomodoro, lock your phone for certain intervals so you can focus on studying. I like using Forest because you can use it on both your phone and computer by syncing it to a Google Chrome extension. You can also whitelist the sites you need to access, like Canvas or Google. Alternatively, try moving your phone to another room to avoid checking it.

It’s easy to get caught up in the stressfulness of this crazy time, but keep in mind that it will pass, and you will follow through with your journey of becoming a great dentist someday! In the meantime, take care of yourself, stay safe, and never hesitate to reach out if you have any questions – we’re always here to help.

Wondering when to schedule your DAT in light of the COVID19 closures? Check out our blog post on that topic here.