We all know midterms and finals can be tiring, to say the least. As a senior in college, I like to think I’ve gained some knowledge on how to maximize your energy without overexerting yourself in the midst of exams. I’ve rounded up my top five tips for starting the day off right and keeping a healthy mind and body during stressful times.
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1. Fill out your planner at the start of the term.
We are all guilty of waiting until two days or even one day before an exam to start studying. I get it. Life can get SO hectic sometimes. But cramming is a sure fire way to miss out on crucial sleep hours and end up sabotaging your success on an assignment or test.
The easiest way to avoid this is by spending an hour at the beginning of the term or in the middle of it (I won’t lie to you guys and say I successfully do this the first day of every term), filling in all your exam times or research paper due dates. That way they’re laid out right there every time you open your planner and you don’t have to spend extra time making sure you’re on track. For example, if it’s a Monday and you see an exam date filled in for that Thursday, you can set aside a few hours that day and get ahead of the game eliminating the need to cram.
This may seem self-explanatory, but I know so many of my peers that try and skate by on four or five hours of sleep during exam week. They all end up exhausted and overworked. I could go on and on about the importance of sleep, but I’ll just give you the SparkNotes version: sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body, especially the brain, immune function, mood and disease resistance.
Sleep is REQUIRED for consolidation of a memory, no matter the memory type. Without adequate sleep, your brain has a harder time absorbing and recalling new information. Guess what that means? Being able to study smarter, not harder. When you get enough sleep you do better on exams, no ifs ands or butts. When you get enough sleep, you don’t need five cups of coffee just to function. My life (and grades) changed dramatically when I started prioritizing sleep. Between six and nine hours is optimal for young adults, so up your beauty sleep game and thank me later.
3. Stretch in the mornings.
I know that running or hitting the gym in the A.M. isn’t realistic for everyone, but study after study shows getting moving in the morning positively affects your mood and energy levels for the entire day. Whether you take three minutes or 20, stretching is the easiest way to get your blood flowing and wake your body up. It’s free, good for your mental and physical health, and easy to fit into any schedule. This is my favorite way to naturally boost my spirits.
4. Get some fresh air.
Wake up and scroll through your Instagram or Twitter feed on your porch instead of in bed. Drink your coffee on your balcony. Walk your dog an extra ten minutes. Take a study break and walk a half mile. Take your textbooks to an outdoor coffee shop. Work out at the park instead of the stuffy gym. However you want to get your fresh air is up to you but just do it. More oxygen results in greater brain functioning, improving your concentration skills and providing you with more energy. Let that Vitamin D soak into your skin and breathe in the good vibes, baby.
5. Eat nourishing foods.
Brain food is a real thing and we all know skipping breakfast is a major no-no, but there are certain foods that I love to keep in my kitchen during busy weeks because of the long-lasting energy they provide. On this list are avocados (perfect with whole grain bread and sliced cherry tomatoes on toast), bananas with peanut butter, brown rice with lots of veggies, fresh fruit on top of oatmeal with honey and whole grain pasta with chicken, tofu or another protein of your choice. Not only will keeping your belly happy keep your mind happy too, but it avoids getting hangry during already stressful times.
I’ve found that the above tips don’t just help during the craziness of midterms and finals, but are good general “rules” to abide by to ensure you’re always putting your best foot forward in school. These are all small changes that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine to boost productivity. Now, go kill your exams babes! You got this!
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