It’s the season we’ve all been anticipating, and I wish I were talking about the one with strings of lights, red and green tinsel and gingerbread houses. It’s actually finals season: the 3 weeks of torture before winter break. All we need to do is cram everything we have learned or haven’t learned into our brains for one more giant test, and we’re free!
It’s no secret that the weeks leading up to exams can fill your days with stress, so study these tips before you start your real study marathon!
Understand that everyone needs a break. This is the first step to a relatively stress-less finals season. No human being can be in the library for 12 hours straight and still be productive. You need fresh air, a fresh view and a change of clothes. Don’t feel guilty about taking an hour or two out of your day to do something other than studying.
Get fresh air in your lungs every single day. Don’t make the mistake of staying at your bedroom desk for a full day. It’s unhealthy, and your body will realize that before you do. Your brain thrives on fresh oxygen, and your back will thank you for giving it a break. Even a simple walk to the grocery store will help.
Get exercise. “I feel guilty for doing something other than studying” is my go-to line, but that makes no sense because you will be so much more productive academically if you get your body moving. Getting your heart rate up improves blood flow to the brain, which helps boost memory and overall brain function. Don’t lose sight of caring for yourself – a half-hour run, a visit to the gym or even a quick ab workout in your living room will help your GPA.
Do yoga. This form of exercise relaxes your muscles while simultaneously strengthening your core and calming your mind. Your break could be as simple as a yoga tutorial on YouTube, but you get bonus points if you make it to a hot yoga class. The heat will take your mind off of calculus and the meditation will remind you to breathe. You’ll walk out of your practice feeling refreshed in mind, body and soul.
Plan your meals. Making a meal schedule takes a few minutes at the beginning of your week, and it saves huge amounts of time throughout your week. This will keep you eating healthily at regular intervals, and you will avoid the “I’m too tired to cook” trip to the McDonalds down the street. Don’t let stress take you off track diet-wise, and remember that your diet directly affects your brain. Avoid junk food that will make your mind sluggish.
Take each day one at a time; keep your head up and your muscles strong. Your brain and your body will be put to a lot of work, so pay extra attention to keeping them healthy and active. Exams can seem like this huge, insurmountable mountain, but soon you’ll be at the top and you can enjoy any Christmas movie as many times as you want. Good luck!