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Studying Brain dead after studying for comps

  1. Aug 17, 2011 #1
    So my comprehensive exams (aka qualifying exams) are coming up, and I've been studying my rear off to be ready for them. Anyway, today I switched from character theory to functional analysis, and came to the sudden and horrifying realization that my brain has stopped working.

    Essentially, I have all my study materials in front of me, I just can't seem to put my nose into my books. My brain is just so exhausted from studying for so long that I can't seem to focus long enough to process any information.

    What it comes down to is that I need a way to refresh my brain. Does anybody have any tips on how I can do this? I'm done to only 3 more weeks of studying, so hopefully nothing too drastic.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2011 #2


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    Daily exercise is a huge brain booster!

    Are you getting enough sleep?
  4. Aug 17, 2011 #3
    Go for a run to clear your thoughts. Come back, have a shower, make some tea and sit down. Pick out the tough problems and leave them for later and try to get through the easy problems first.
  5. Aug 17, 2011 #4
    Edit: Shame on me for trying to post via my cell!

    Anyway, my normal techniques don't seem to be working. I run fairly regularly, and that was definitely always a good destress/relaxing activity back when I was an undergrad. Thing is though, this seems to be a different level of mental exhaustion. I'm going into my fourth month of heavy studying.

    Maybe it's not even mental exhaustion? Maybe it's just a lack of motivation now :P

    Anyway, maybe I'll step up my exercise routine a bit. Any other suggestions?
  6. Aug 17, 2011 #5
    As for sleep, it hasn't been an issue. I'm getting a solid 8 hours a night.

    As for doing hard/easy problems, that's not really an issue either. Doing questions seems to be a little bit different in that they are challenging and stimulate the mind. Rather, my issue seems to be the monotonous routine of committing endless volumes of mathematical facts to memory.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to complain. This is all stuff we all do before getting a PhD so I know I'm not somehow special in my torment. Just seeing if anyone has any super special recipes for getting over brain cramps.
  7. Aug 18, 2011 #6
    I find that going camping for a weekend is a great way to destress. The change of environment helps my mind reboot since none of the usual associations I have with my normal atmospheres interferes with my ability to relax and escape. I nice idyllic patch near a lake I find is always best, or any place that can definitively get your mind focused on something other than schoolwork for a day or two. Otherwise, set aside a day or two and do somethings that are exhilarating and memorable, like rock climbing, or just something spontaneous and sudden with several good friends.

    In addition, you should also try and study in different places (if you don't already) to help make data retention a bit easier, and possibly less stressful on the mind. I can dig up a study on the benefits of learning in different environments if need be.
  8. Aug 18, 2011 #7
    Music usually works for me. Sometimes classical, like maybe Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and sometimes some raunchy death metal. Both have unique ways of eliminating stress depending on the mood I'm in.

    I'll echo that it's important to get enough sleep. Your mind studies while you sleep anyway - imagine sleep as a very effective defragmentation program. It compiles all the information throughout the day and stores it in long term memory as an easily-accessed file. I'd rather have seven hours of study and nine hours of sleep than twelve hours of study and six hours of sleep.
  9. Aug 18, 2011 #8
    Excellent suggestion. I will definitely give this a try.

    As for everyone else suggestions, I really do appreciate the input, but I learned all these things as an undergrad. They are (for me at least) normal test taking techniques and don't really address the problem I'm facing.
  10. Aug 18, 2011 #9
    Work out, man. Do an hour of lifting and strength exercise and hardcore cardio. Works wonders for me. Then some tea with lemon so you dont fall asleep and life is gooooood :)
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