After spring break, summer feels so close, you can practically taste it! Too bad there are still a lot of important things left to do before the semester finishes. Whether you’re stressed about a big paper or exam standing between you and three months of freedom, or you’re just having trouble focusing in general, check out some of the suggestions below to combat stress and study frustration the healthy way, no caffeine or all-nighters required!
1. Get outdoors
Don’t fight the elements – take advantage of them! When temperatures start to rise and it’s absolutely gorgeous out, move your study space outdoors.
Alexandra Churchill, an editorial intern for Her Campus and a student at the University of New Hampshire says, “It helps me to take my books outside! If you can bring your work out into the open sunlight with you, you can't easily say that you didn't get to enjoy the weather!”
According to a study published on the Livestrong site (think Lance Armstrong), exposure to sun can increase levels of melatonin, a chemical in your brain that plays an important role in keeping serotonin, another brain chemical in check. According to the study, increased levels of serotonin can boost your mood and increase happiness!
Find a comfy spot where you can enjoy the nice weather, and then hit the books. Rather than moping indoors, multi-task and enjoy beautiful temperatures while keeping your grades up.
2. Keep eating healthy
When you’re crunched for time and cramming at all hours of the night, healthy meals are often one of the first things to go. Make a consistent effort to stick to the same eating schedule you usually follow, and keep meals balanced. Many of the health benefits from fruits and vegetables keep you from getting sick, eliminating another potential stressor. Plus, water has many other awesome benefits.
Also be sure to watch portion size with meals or snacks. When you’re busy studying, it’s easy to munch your way through different snack foods and consume way more calories than you intended to. Also, substitute water for caffeinated drinks. It will keep you in better shape to focus and concentrate and perform better on end-of-year exams and projects. Her Campus has some great snack suggestions to get you started.
3. Stay active!
Take time away from studying to get some exercise, too. Activities like lifting weights, going for a jog, or practicing yoga are great for relaxing and relieving stress and improving your mood. Regular exercise can help relieve tension and get your mind off of high-pressure activities you have coming up.
Feel like you have too much studying to hit the gym? A lot of college or university gyms have a quiet zone reserved for those who wish to get a workout in while studying. Take advantage of these and other opportunities to stay in shape, which can help you focus and commit more mental energy to studying later. Learn how to get fit without spending hours at the gym, whether it’s abs in the dorm, squeezing quick exercises in during work or class, or any other creative way you can come up with to stay active!
4. Say bye-bye to unhealthy habits
Are you an avid coffee drinker? Even simple rituals like a daily mocha could be contributing to post-spring break stress more than you think.
Caffeine can do more harm than good when you’re stressed to the max. Caffeine has an adverse effect on many of the hormones in your body, which can make you groggier after your initial intake and make you more moody once the caffeine buzz wears off. In some cases, too much caffeine can even elevate your stress levels! Obviously, caffeine makes it harder to sleep as well, meaning you aren’t as well rested and prepared for busy, stressful days. Need help kicking the caffeine habit? Try some of these alternatives.
During periods of high-stress, you might want to think twice about several other risky behaviors. If you’re a smoker, think about cutting back or quitting when you have a deadline approaching. Same goes for alcohol – cut back on the drinks and the partying the weekend before a major test or paper.
5. Prioritize (and make cuts if necessary)
If your grades are slipping, take a step back and take a hard look at your schedule. If you’re super busy zipping from your sorority meeting to an intramural volleyball game with no time left to study, it might be worth cutting something out of your schedule.