How to Stay Healthy During Exams
It’s that time of year again where 10 exams (yes, you read that correctly) are on the horizon and you want to get through those two weeks as unscathed as possible. Here are some of my helpful suggestions that I’ve accumulated throughout the years.
Calm & clean study area | Although a study recently came out about messy desks promoting creativity, this isn’t the time to get creative. I subscribe to the idea ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ as I usually begin to get anxious when I look around my cluttered surroundings. Interestingly enough, in that same study, having a clean study area promotes healthy eating (bonus!).
Stay hydrated & nourished | Fun fact: when the brain shrinks (because of dehydration), cognitive impairments start to occur. The easy fix? Drink water and aim for 2-3L per day. While coffee and tea are delicious sources of water (I’m looking at you peppermint mocha), they act as dehydrators so make sure you’re drinking lots of water no matter what. Moreover, eating the three main meals of the day, as well as smart snacking is key! While a cupcake is okay every now and then, it can lead to feelings of sluggishness. A quick TCM fact: eating lots of sweet and processed foods can damage your spleen organ, which is in charge of intellect – keep your spleen healthy by eating warm, cooked foods (with complex carbs rather than simple ones).
Exercise | To quote Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Exercise helps improve symptoms of depression, and endorphins can help fight stress. Not only does exercise improve the mood, it (unsurprisingly) affects memory as well. Although the research was conducted on 70-80 year old women with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the results were promising – exercise improves both verbal and spatial memory. Studies in rats suggest that aerobic exercise (such as running) may provide better benefit than resistance training, although the effects were subtle.
Sleep | Ever heard of the saying ‘sleep is for the weak?’ Don’t take it to heart. Impairments in sleep can leave to cognitive decline, and interestingly enough more than 9 hours can lead to cognitive impairments as well! In addition, research shows that non-REM (deep) and REM sleep affect different parts of memory, so be sure to get 6-8 hours of sleep per night.
Friends & Family | Yes, you’re very busy. But you need to take a break sometime. Why not see a friend and talk about things that have no relation to school. Better yet – go on an exercise date, which is really the best of both worlds.
Music | Although some swear by silence, I like listening to music while I study. My go-to playlist features any and all albums by Bon Iver, Lorde, Mumford and Sons, and The XX.