Sunday, April 20, 2014

Five tips for stress-free finals

Finals week is usually characterized by sleepless nights, potfulls of coffee and high stress. But it does not always have to be that way. Here are some easy ways to stay stress free during finals.

Eat Better.

Enjoy breakfast. It is tempting to skip breakfast before running out the door in the morning to a final exam or study session, but this vital first meal can help increase concentration, strength and endurance throughout the day. Think there’s no time to stop for a full five course breakfast? Even something as small as a banana, yogurt or piece of toast is better than eating nothing.

According to WebMD, drinking orange juice not only reduces stress, but also helps immune systems that are weakened by the sleep deprivation so common to finals week.

“Researches say vitamin C may help people manage their stress more effectively, in part by lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol,” WebMD said. “As an added bonus, vitamin C-rich foods such as orange juice, grapefruit juice (or) strawberries can help boost your immune system.”

Careful on the carbs. Do not binge on carbohydrates, which can cause a huge energy drain. Prevention magazine suggests keeping eating five servings of vegetables, two servings of fruit; and three or four servings of starchy carbohydrates such as bread, rice, pasta or cereal to make carbohydrates help, instead of hurt.

Drink coffee later. According to Prevention Magazine, caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a sleep-inducing brain chemical that accumulates as the day wears on.

“By the time adenosine builds up to the point where you start feeling sleepy-generally, late in the afternoon-the effects of your morning caffeine will have worn off,” Prevention said. “Having a half, to one cup of coffee during the later afternoon when the pressure to sleep is high will keep you energized.”

Study More Efficiently.

Study day by day. One of the keys to retaining information is not cramming the night before a test, but studying a little bit of the material day by day.

Liberty psychology professor Sundi Donovan emphasizes that students can alleviate a lot of stress by planning ahead. She said that students should take short breaks every 45 minutes to an hour to walk around and get a change of scenery.

“Try to arrange your studying so that you can have one day off completely. This will give your mind a break and make you fresher when it is time to study,” Donovan said.

Enjoy rewards. “I’d set a goal of studying early a little for each class each day and if I reached my goal, I’d allow myself a large banana pudding milkshake at Chick-fil-A,” psychology professor Dr. Larry Anderson said.

Get rid of distractions. Study in a well-lit place and make sure to be prepared ahead so trips for additional pencils, books or whatever other random item is suddenly “necessary” to further procrastination can be eliminated. Also, do not be afraid to get away from the world for a while.

“Cut off your phone when you are studying and cut off the computer as well,” Dr. David Horton, professor of exercise science, said.

Get Out.

Whether it’s a five-minute walk around DeMoss Hall or a jog around campus, getting some fresh air can keep minds fresh and from getting buried from loads of information.

“We dressed up (with) underwear over our shorts, rain boots, and towels as capes and ran around East Campus to lighten our mood and take a break from studying,” Margaret Duncan said.

Don’t Forget to Prioritize.

In the massive piles of textbooks and notes, Bibles often seem to get lost. But discipleship pastor Chris Deitsch urges students to not forget where their success and strength will really come from. He quotes Isaiah 20:49-31 which reads:

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

“If you want to have the energy and the strength to finish strong, it will not come through coffee or Monster energy drinks, but through a connection to Jesus and spending time with Him over the next few days. You need God, not a nap, coffee or energy drinks,” Deitsch said.

What not to do:

Don’t waste hours stalking random people on Facebook.

There’s plenty of time during the summer to do that. And finals usually do not have questions regarding Farmville or which couple just got engaged.

Do not miss your final.

After studying for days on end for a final, one of the worst things that could happen is oversleeping or mixing up when the exam is. So be careful to double check the date and time of the exam on the Registrar’s page and set multiple alarms to avoid sleeping in.

“I once missed a final because I got the time wrong,” junior Danny Conover said. “Luckily the professor let me make it up in his office.”

Do not forget to shower.

Despite the fact that this is just gross, roommates and study partners will usually shun the kid who smells like he’s been living in the computer lab.

Do not give up.

Remember that finals will soon end and are not worth losing life and limb over. Stay strong because summer is just around the corner.

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