It has come to the end of the semester again. Group meetings for projects, reviews for exams, as well as endless papers are all starting to take up more and more of your time. Sometimes you may feel like you have to sacrifice your sleep, your exercise, you regular meal time, and thus, your health to make a final boost of your GPA. But, sacrificing these things can actually be a detriment to your academics.
The following tips for finals month will not only help you find a balance between working hard and being healthy, but remind you that often times, they go hand in hand as well.
- Relax and Release Stress. One thing you feel at the end of every semester may be stress. Both physical and psychological stress can cause chronic inflammation in your body, with an immediate effect of dampening your brain and body function, as well as a long term effect of increasing your risk for chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Your overall performance and wellness could be determined by how well you manage your stress. Getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, and participating in regular physical activity are all effective ways of reducing stress, and have all been shown to reduce inflammation.
- Keep a Regular Schedule. An irregular schedule can create metabolic stress in your body and affect your health and academic performance. Thus, staying on a schedule that is similar to your typical day is best. When you change things up- like staying awake later or eating late-night- your body is stressed by this and has to adjust, which requires you to use energy that isn’t directed toward your studies. Regardless of whether you are a “morning person” or a “night person”, if you eat, sleep, workout etc at similar times day to day, you are minimizing the stress you put on your body.
- Stop Skipping Meals. Regular meal time is also a part of your schedule, and an important one. We all know that it’s bad to skip breakfast, and it’s actually bad to skip lunch and dinner too. Skipping meals can slow down your metabolism and cause your body to store the food you eat as fat since your body won’t know when it will get fed again. Therefore, try to have an apple, banana, cup of yogurt, or granola bar on hand so that you have something healthy to snack on if you get hungry and you’re in the middle of doing work.
- Stay Hydrated. During periods of intensive brain activity, water serves as the primary media and reactant in the massive metabolic reactions going on in your body and brain. To maintain health and a high level of functionality, you need to watch out for dehydration. Oftentimes, thirst is a sign that you’re past the point of dehydration. Headaches and fatigue may come first. Water is the healthiest and most hydrating choice to replenish lost fluid stores. Sugary drink like soda and sports drinks do not provide as much water and can actually be dehydrating. Other healthy options include iced or hot tea.
Nielsen, Forrest. March 15, 2010.Inflammation- Bad or Good. United States Department of Agriculture. Available online at http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=19563.
Shacter, E. and Weitzman, SA. 2002. Chronic Inflammation and cancer. Oncology. 16(2):217-229.
By: Xuan Qin
Editor: Kate Sweeney