Keeping Healthy Habits During Finals Week

illustration by Kate Koenig

Alyssa Simon, Nutrition Columnist

illustration by Kate Koenig

The end of the semester is almost here and unfortunately, with the end of the semester comes finals week. For the majority of students, finals week is the most stressful part of the semester. If you’re not studying, you’re eating or sleeping, and vice versa. Finals week doesn’t leave much room for a social life and if you’re not careful, it doesn’t seem to leave too much room for taking care of yourself either. Here are some tips to help keep your healthy habits during finals week.

Make time for sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways you can keep yourself healthy, especially during this time of the year. Your brain needs sleep to work at its full potential, and skimping on sleep can actually make it more difficult for you to study the next day, leaving you feeling discouraged and unprogressive. Do your best to get at least seven hours of sleep every night.

Eat three real meals, not while studying. Aside from sleep, your brain also needs food to properly function. Glucose is the only fuel the brain uses and the only way to get glucose is from food. If your brain is not fed, you will have a very difficult time studying. Taking the time to eat three meals a day not only feeds your brain, but it also gives you a chance to relax and unwind, even if it’s just for a little while. Providing your body with foods it needs such as fruits and vegetables will help you even more, while eating numerous slices of pizza, bags of chips, and Ben and Jerry’s will not. If you plan on snacking, be sure to portion out your food to avoid mindless eating.

Get to the gym. Exercise is an excellent stress reliever; you can listen to your music and forget about your work (if only for half an hour), you can take out your stress on a punching bag, or you can “run away” from your problems on the treadmill (you do need to come back though!). Exercise also results in the release of endorphins, a hormone secreted from the pituitary gland, responsible for “runner’s high.” During finals week you may not feel like you have time to work out, but taking even 15 minutes to go for a jog or some light yoga or even stretching will allow your brain to recuperate and help you feel refreshed.

Go easy on the caffeine. Consuming large amounts of caffeine in order to stay awake and work longer may seem like a good idea, but caffeine can leave you feeling jittery and unable to concentrate. 300mg is the recommended daily limit for caffeine, which is the equivalent of about 4 cups of coffee. Energy drinks, such as Monster or 5 Hour Energy are not only packed with caffeine, but sugar as well. This combination of caffeine and sugar is unhealthy for your brain, and can give you too much energy, so you feel hyper instead of focused.

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