Stay Fit During Exams
Jessica Vainer provides advice on how to stay fit and healthy during exams.
Exam time is synonymous with stressful living and ironically, the last thing that ever crosses our minds is how to stay fit and healthy during this tumultuous time. This can be attributed to the fact that the majority of us are procrastinators and we always wait for the last minute to get things done. As a result, we would rather sacrifice our health, burning the midnight oil to achieve those coveted grades. However, does pulling all-nighters and surviving on junk food make us more exam-ready, as opposed to healthy living?
What do health experts say?
According to psychologists, increased stress levels can have a negative impact both on our physical and mental health. We become tense, our heart rate increases and we worry about the outcome of the exams that our performance abilities plummet. In psychological circles, this is referred to as "competitive anxiety" and does not affect students alone, but athletes as well.
This is exactly what happens when we try to outsmart the examiner by trying to master a whole semester's worth of syllabuses in just a few days. However, that is just one side of the story. What kicks our stress levels into high gear is our lifestyle choices and the type of food we eat. Therefore, to avoid competitive anxiety, we need to know how to stay fit and healthy to avoid high-stress levels during exam time.
The essence of healthy living and its impact on our performance
You may be wondering "why is it important to keep fit when I need all the time in the world to study?" With such a mindset, you are also likely to believe that partaking in exercises will wear you out to the point that you will not be able to study. The reality, however, is that exercises keep our bodies rejuvenated and relieve mental stress.
When we talk about exercises, we do not mean the rigorous workouts that will leave you completely burned out. We are talking about light regimens that will improve blood flow to your brain and leave you refreshed after a nice shower. There are many light exercises that you can choose from. For instance, you may go jogging or cycling or even go for a walk, if you lack the energy for the two. You may also hit the gym, although outdoor exercises are far more peaceful, especially if you do them in the park.
The most important thing is to reserve at least an hour a day for some exercises. You may also do yoga and quiet meditations alone in your room.
Food for Thought
Equally important is the type of food you take during this last phase of the semester. While junk foods, snacks, and sugary drinks may seem like viable dietary options due to easy accessibility, the truth is that they do little to keep your mental health in check. Too much junk food makes our brains exhausted and less efficient. Poor dietary choices will not work in your favour in an exam setting.
You need the best food before the exam, which are brain-boosting foods for optimal performance. So, which are these "exam foods" that we recommend? A healthy diet consists of a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.
We also recommend plant sources of proteins, as beef takes longer to digest and may make you feel tired. If you must consume flesh, then fish is a healthier substitute for various types of meat. You should also watch the type of fats you consume.
Go for healthy fats, such as canola and olive oil, and avoid saturated fats. You should put a high preference for foods with high levels of omega-2 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B vitamins, as these nutrients have a direct impact on the health of the brain. Oh! And avoid partying and alcohol binges during this critical time. The last thing you want is to study with a hangover weighing you down.
Socialize and Play
When we talk about socializing, we do not mean sacrificing all your precious study just to hang out with friends. Chances are most of your colleagues will also be studying and may not be willing to go out. However, keeping yourself isolated completely from your friends and loved ones could trigger stress hormones, which may negatively impact your performance.
You can schedule your study routine to be in line with your close friends so that you have the same free time. This way you will be able to spend time together and even go on workouts as a team. You should also dedicate your time to call your family and friends. It is comforting to know that there are people who care about you and will stand by you during the stressful exam period.
Lack of preparedness is what leads to high-stress levels during exam time. Most students procrastinate till the last minute and then strive to master all the information in a few days. The brightest students do the opposite- they cover most of the work during the semester when there is the least pressure and only do revisions during exam time. This is the main reason why they are usually confident and unfazed when everyone else is grappling to cram, as much information as possible.
It is due to this reason that we encourage you to create study plans during the semester. Through this process, you will be able to cover small concepts daily and by the time the exam period comes, you will have covered most of the syllabus.
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In conclusion, keeping fit and healthy during the exam period is the only way of ensuring you are at your personal best. Create a daily regimen of healthy foods and exercises to perform highly both at physical and mental levels.
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About the Author
Jessica Vainer is a freelance writer.