If you’re not stressed out during midterms and final exams, you might not be human. Even if you know the material and you’re confident that you’ll do well, you feel on edge—and when you feel this way, you might not take care of yourself like you should. This can compound your stress and even impact your performance when taking a test. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during exams.
Don’t Rely on Caffeine to Get You Through
It’s tempting to load up on caffeine during exam time, but before you order that next White Zombie, be aware that the temporary high you get from caffeine may also lead to more stress and anxiety. Feeling jittery isn’t conducive to focusing and consuming too much caffeine during the day might make it hard to sleep at night—and caffeine is no substitute for sleep.
Get the Sleep You Need
On the topic of sleep, don’t skip it in order to stay up late studying. A lack of sleep will impact your performance on exams and it’s unlikely that you’ll retain any information from late-night studying if you’re dozing off every few minutes. Instead of cramming, set aside ample time the entire week before exams to study each day; this will help you get the rest you need and you’ll study much better too.
Another way we neglect our health during exams is by not eating right. If you’re subsisting on ramen cups, fast food, and candy bars, you’re not getting the nutrition you need to do your best on your exams. Eat a diet that’s balanced to help fuel you through your day. Each meal should contain a protein, a source of healthy fat, whole grains, and at least one vegetable. For snacks, pair a healthy carbohydrate with protein and/or a healthy fat for long-lasting energy. Some examples include an apple with peanut butter or celery sticks and hummus.
Being active gives you a much-needed break while studying and it can also help you manage your stress in a healthy, positive way. Even a 10-minute break to take a walk around the block can help relieve tension in your body and mind—you don’t need to go to the gym in order to stay active during exams.
There are countless meditation apps with guided meditations to help ease your mind when you’re feeling stressed. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to set aside an hour and sit on the floor in silence to reap the benefits of meditating. Start with an amount of time that feels manageable to you. If meditation isn’t your thing, try taking deep breaths through your nose and exhaling through your mouth when you begin to feel overwhelmed.