As the semester progresses, the pressure increases and students develop different ways to cope with accomplishing more in less time with less energy. Often this means foregoing sleep and slamming caffeinated beverages, but these are not the healthiest choices and can actually work against your brain’s ability to function.
Getting sick at college will certainly not help during mid-term exams. So what are some healthier strategies to get through the rest of the semester with your grade point average and your sanity intact?
Here are some of the tips we’ve heard for keeping your energy levels up and in prime form:
Exercise – Not only is walking good for your general health, but walking in cold air is a good way to wake up. If you are in the habit of taking a bath to relax and sleep, realize that cold air (or water) does the reverse: it wakes you up. Many students also find that the kind of free association thinking that occurs in the brain during exercise helps you become more creative as well.
Go to bed earlier – Many students push their bedtime back later and later as the semester progresses, but this can be counterproductive because a regular sleep cycle results in better rest. Instead, go to bed a half an hour earlier and do it every night. Your body will adjust to this routine and your brain will get more deep restorative sleep – the kind that really matters for mental and physical health. Adults ages 18 and older need an average of 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every day to avoid sleep deprivation and the problems that come with it, including moodiness, lethargy, irritability, weight gain, memory problems, and reduced immunity to disease.
Eat healthier – Conventional nutritional advice has focused for decades on eating certain dietary carbohydrates – like fiber – but consuming fiber doesn’t increase energy, and the kinds of carbs most people gravitate to are full of sugar which will raise your energy levels…and then crash them. Instead eat more real foods, made from individual ingredients, and skip the processed foods. Women with fatigue can benefit from eating more iron-rich plants, like spinach, and fats are a surprising source of energy. Per gram of food fats have more than twice the calories – and they metabolize slower, so your energy levels will be elevated and even all day.
Talk to your friends and family – Not only will your social support system help in keeping you grounded and emotionally bouyant, taking a break and talking about things that are interesting to you will wake you up when you are drowsy.
Introducing healthier habits to your lifestyle might take some time and may not have an immediate effect for this round of mid-term exams, but if you implement them now, the rest of the semester will be more manageable, and you’ll thank yourself around finals.