It’s almost the end of the semester! Final exams are almost upon us and stress is bound to set in; you may not feel the stress, or really react to it, but the overload of work and exams and papers can really get under the skin of some people. So how can you fight stress? Or at least how can you manage to keep it at a reasonable level? Here are 4 easy to apply ways to do just that:
1.Eat Right, Snack Right
You would be amazed at how accurate the phrase “you are what you eat” is. Clearly if you eat fast food crap for weeks and weeks, you won’t turn into that fast food, but the phrase does have some meaning behind it. If you don’t treat your body as it was evolutionarily designed to be treated, you will see negative consequences. This includes all the small snacks you have at 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. in the middle of cramming for that exam! Don’t think that just because it’s a small snack it won’t be detrimental to your well-being; it all adds up. For more information on what exactly eating right entails, look here.
2. Don’t Forget to Exercise!
There is no better way to take out your finals week stress than to lift some heavy ass weights. In fact, exercise will actually improve your retention of all that studying you are doing. Plus, you are going to be cramped up in a chair studying for most of the day so why not get your heart rate up? Exercising will also help you sleep better, helping you retain that information even more. Getting in a quick heavy lift or even a nice sprint session will be perfect for finals week exercise. For more information on what you should be doing in the gym, check this out.
It seems obvious, but few students actually take the time to do it. It seems like meditation is only going to distract you from the books. However, doing all this studying is only a better reason to get in even more meditation. Studies have shown that meditation helps regulate blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, and increase blood circulation. I once heard a quote that said “You should meditate for at least 30 mins a day, and if you are busy, you should meditate for at least an hour.” So, find some quiet space, inside or out, close your eyes, and focus on that breathing.
4. Go Outside for a Minimum of 15-30 Minutes a Day
You may not think this one is that important, but it is crucial! We’re going to spend some extra time on this one because it is one of the primal laws and VERY crucial. Getting sufficient Vitamin D daily is extremely important to maintaining a clean bill of health, especially during a stressful time such as finals week. Harvard Medical School recommends getting between 800-1000 IU of vitamin D per day. Interestingly, as you can see in the image to the left, if you live above 37° N latitude in the United States, your skin is very unlikely to produce little, if any vitamin D from the sun. People who live in these shaded grey areas are at relatively greater risk for vitamin D deficiency, especially during the fall and winter months.
Ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure per day is said to be sufficient to absorb enough sunlight to produce that 800+IU of vitamin D. The reason we recommend closer to 30 minutes per day of sunlight is because there are other factors that also affect the amount of UV rays that reach your skin. Cloud cover, exact geolocation, the season, the time of day, cloud cover, and even level of pollution in the air affect the amount of UVB that reaches your skin and eventually affects the vitamin D produce.
So, how do you go about getting your sun/vitamin D? If you live above that red line in the picture, well . . . you’re screwed. Just kidding. Obviously if it’s cloudy and there’s no sun during one day, you can’t do much (unless you can change the weather, then all power to you). But don’t let the cloud cover get you down, try and take advantage of any sunny days you have and go study and/or eat outside on a porch or on the grass. In Carlisle, PA, where I go to school, it is unfortunately cloudy a lot of days during the fall and winter months. But then every few days, almost out of nowhere, the sun shines and it’s 67°F and breezy. Thank you global warming! So I take advantage of those days and spend lunchtime hanging out on the porch taking in the rays; you should do the same!
So how do you plan on keeping stress to a minimum during finals week? Leave a comment below.