It has been a spring-break-less semester loaded with Zoom calls, tests and quarantine. Practicing self-care during stressful times can provide you with a healthy mindset and set you up for success on exams and other end-of-year academic endeavors. With finals season among us, here are some ways to cope with that extra stress on your brain.
Setting aside personal time during finals can be essential for your mental health. One way to boost your wellness is to take some time out of your day to go for a walk, according to a TODAY article.
“Walking outside, being in nature and getting out of the same place allows you to decompress, understand what’s been going on and refocus,” the article said. Therefore, when the weight of your assignments becomes insurmountable, a brief walk might just be what you need to refresh and help you rediscover the task at hand.
If you want to remember that crucial tiny detail you just read in your exam review notes, you may want to consider giving your body time to recharge. According to research from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University’s Medical School, sleep and memory are intertwined. The article said that when the body is in chronic fatigue, its organs get thrown out of sync, which correlates with the negative impact of sleep deprivation.
If end-of-semester stress is preventing you from falling asleep, there are some simple remedies worth trying. Aromatherapy is a popular method to naturally induce sleep. VeryWellMind said that scents such as lavender spark relaxation. Similar studies demonstrate that lavender oil may be a helpful aid in battling insomnia. Also, here’s a list of breathing exercises for better sleep from VeryWellMind.
A nice, hot, relaxing bath or shower before bedtime may also get you sleeping better. Healthline reported the results of a 2019 systematic review which concluded that taking a warm bath or shower (at 104 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 10 minutes one to two hours before going to sleep delivered increased sleep quality.
Lastly, study snacks can be a powerful tool to keep your mind functioning. A SnackNation article said that it is best to avoid sugary and fatty foods. These foods increase your dopamine levels, but once they drop, that delicious, sugary treat you just snacked on might leave you feeling exhausted and more distracted than you were before consuming it. The article listed almonds, air-popped popcorn, fruits and vegetables, cheese and crackers as some healthy choices that can fuel your focus.
Remember that an exam is just an exam. Going to bed earlier or spending an hour with a friend offers significant benefits. Prioritizing your mental health in stressful times can be equally (if not more) important than your grade.
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