Pulling all-nighters, running on coffee and 5-hour-energy shots, and making the library your new permanent residence? College is already hard enough! Then, at the end of every semester, we have to deal with EXAMS.
And, of course, studies show that women are at a higher risk for stress-induced eating and consequent weight gain. Blame it on cortisol – probably the suckiest hormone I’ve ever heard of. It’s a stress-related hormone that’s linked to weight gain (especially in your abs!). Cortisol also makes your metabolism slow down and increases your appetite. It ALSO leads to a tendency to consume high-fat foods. Ugh.
There are ways to avoid weight gain and unhealthy habits even when you’re scrambling to finish that paper at 4am the night before. What does a girl gotta do to stay healthy and avoid gaining weight during these super stressful times?
Build a support system.
Friends and family are there for you – feel free to vent! Unloading your stress and frustrations will keep you focused… and prevent you from stress-eating.
Avoid sugar and caffeine. They’ll seem like a good choice… until you crash a few hours later! And when you’re making your 2am food run, keep healthy snacks closest (front of the cabinets and fridge) so that’s the first thing you see and grab. If you have time to cook, put food away right after you make it so you’re not mindlessly eating seconds and thirds while studying. Also, no matter what hours you keep during exam week, try to keep your eating schedule as close to normal as possible. Eating when you should be sleeping increase your chances of gaining weight.
It’s been proven that exercise relieves stress, so do it! You don’t have to give up an hour to hit the gym, either. Try meditating and focusing on your breathing for 10-20 minutes. Play music, get out of your chair and dance between chapters. Or, now that the weather is starting to get nice, get outside and take a 10-minute walk. Simply moving around will ease your mind and make you feel better.
What are your healthy ways you cope with stress during finals?