Keep your mind and body alert through the semester finish line
School can weigh heavily on students’ minds and bodies, especially towards the end of the year. The final stretch to summer vacation is full of final exams, AP tests, projects, and presentations that can take sleep and sanity away from students. Increasing numbers of young people, now estimated at 10% from ages 13-18, are suffering from anxiety, and schools are taking notice of this condition amongst their students. In a recent article published by the Huffington Post, high schools across the country are helping students beat mental and physical fatigue through some creative solutions such as yoga, nap time, therapy dogs, and transcendental meditation. Schools have found that 15-30 minutes a day of focusing on mental health helps students perform better academically, manage stress, and avoid issues with anxiety.
As students approach the end of the semester, and maybe even the end of high school, it is important to take measures to keep the body and mind healthy. Here are some tips for staying mentally and physically strong through the semester finish line!
Getting a good night’s sleep can help keep your energy high throughout the day. While after school activities, homework, jobs, and friends can keep you up too late, it’s important to make sleep a priority, especially when you anticipate some busy months ahead. With a good night’s sleep, you can focus better and longer in the classroom, will have the attention span to get quality studying finished, and will be able to better manage stressful situations as they come. Drained after a long day at school? Take a break, and give yourself a 30-minute power nap to refuel, rest your body, and rest your mind before digging into some textbooks. With a rested mind, your cognitive functioning will improve and you’ll have a boost when studying for finals.
Getting a solid night’s sleep can be no easy task when there is a lot happening in life. Cutting down on caffeine throughout the day, exercising during the day, not eating too late at night, and reducing “screen time” before bedtime can all help you get a better night’s rest. So cool it on the coffee, and turn off the TV a little earlier, because nothing relaxes you quite like some slumber.
Take Your Time Studying
Sometimes it may feel like going a mile a minute is the best way to cover a lot of material when studying. In actuality, pacing yourself and taking frequent, short breaks helps with material retention and study stamina. When students rush through material, they may be reading faster than their minds are absorbing. By taking the time to organize materials, map out a study plan, and then progress through coursework at a steady pace, students can make connections and understand material better. You can avoid information overload by taking multiple short breaks. This is an excellent way to not only break up study materials, but also keep your mind and eyes from getting tired. Get a snack, walk around, or meditate for 10 minutes between chapters or topics.
Keep yourself from cramming, start studying weeks, or even months, before final exams and AP tests. This may seem excessive, but by learning consistently at a steady pace instead of trying to stuff a semester or year’s worth of information into your memory bank the night before the exam, you will enter your tests rested, stress-free, and confident!
Check out our blog post about time management and study techniques for more useful tips!
Give Yourself Some “Me” Time
It’s important to remember amidst the chaos of everyday life that sometimes, you just need to take a mental health break and focus on yourself. “Me” time can come in many forms, and how a person wishes to treat themselves is all relative, but find a special place or activity that will calm your nerves, clear your head, and give yourself much needed rest. Take a walk in the park, jog around the block, watch your favorite movie, read a book for fun, have a spa day, or engage in any other activity that will take your mind off of your daily stresses and revive your energy.
Eat Brain Food
There is some major truth to the saying “you are what you eat.” Certain foods can make your tired, move slower, and feel a little lazy, while others keep your body healthy and energized. Nuts, lentils, bananas, and oats are all “power foods” that keep your energy up. Foods high in fiber for example help your body release energy slower and steadier throughout the day instead of in a sudden short spurt because these “good carbs” release slowly into your bloodstream. Almonds, another excellent brain food, contain fatty acids that keep your mind alert. So instead of reaching for a hamburger or a bowl of pasta, try some foods that will fuel your body throughout the day.
Remember, water is essential in the digestion process and ensures that you absorb all those useful vitamins and minerals, so aim for eight to 10 glasses a day. Bring a water bottle to school, and keep it full throughout the day to make sure you always have water nearby.
When times get tough, stress starts to build, and you feel like there are a million responsibilities weighing on your shoulders, remember to breathe! Anxiety and stress can shorten breaths and stunt breathing, which restricts oxygen to the brain, and makes thinking and processing information more difficult. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try inhaling for 3-4 seconds and then exhaling for 6-8 seconds. This will open your lungs, calm your nervous system, and send oxygen back to your brain you so can move on from stress and relax.
If you stick to these basic tips, you can certainly keep calm throughout the spring study season. Try implementing these recommendations into your routine now, so that when finals are in full swing you’ll already have these habits in your back pocket. Ultimately, stress will redirect your energy away from completing tasks, studying, and relaxing. So skip the panic, breath, and focus on the finish line!