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Don’t let it get you down: How to survive reading period and exams


            As finals loom before us (How did it get to be that time of year again?), you definitely don’t want to worry about getting sick. Nevertheless, it seems that germs love to nuzzle up in stressed out people. Here are some tips for how to stay healthy, even when as your body is combatting some end-of-the-year (what’s my Summer internship?) anxiety:

Number One: Exercise

Exercise has been proven to increase our physical and psychological health immensely, and particular during periods of high stress. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of three, 30-minute moderate intensity cardiovascular sessions (i.e., running), and two full-body strength training routines weekly in order to keep up optimal health.[1] Now, most of us are probably thinking the same thing: Who has that kind of time, and especially this month? Even if you can’t commit to this regimen, try to allot some time in your day for a trip to the gym. Even something as simple as a one-hour Yoga session might do wonders for your body.

Number Two: Healthy Diet

Again, I know what you’re thinking: The Ratty certainly doesn’t permit me to maintain a healthy diet during finals. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a healthy diet is defined as one that emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, plant-based oils, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean proteins and low fat daily. Experts also emphasize the importance of reducing our intake of saturated and trans fats, refined grains, sugary drinks, sodium and sweets, as they contribute little nutrition with a higher concentration of calories.[2]  Even if it’s not possible to be a total health nut, becoming more cognizant of what you eat can help your body to ward off uninvited guests.

Number Three: Stress Reduction

(As if there’s a simple way to reduce stress during finals.) Believe it or not, stress can actually lead to physical illness, as your body reacts with a release of hormones triggering ‘fight or flight’ responses. Yet it’s important to keep a level head, even when that 25- page seminar paper, yet to be started, is glaring threateningly before you. Some simple ways to take it easy: meditation, deep breathing, going for walks, yoga, Heavy Petting on the main green… all of these are way to Keep Calm and Carry On. Take a look at this kid, learning to live the good life:

Number Four: Sleep

According to Forbes magazine, getting some zees can be the “cure all” for any malady. The average adult needs about eight hours of sleep per night. (Evaluate yourself, Brunonian: how much are you getting on average?) Sleep is the time when our bodies recover from the previous day, and get ready for the onslaught of whatever the next day has to offer us. Sleep is important for long term health as well: According to a survey conducted by the American Cancer Society, people who sleep less than 6 hours (or more than 9) hours per night had a death rate 30 percent higher than those who regularly slept 7 to 8 hours.[3] Indeed, as with anything, it’s important to regulate your rest in both directions. If you overdo your sleep right before a major test, that can be bad too. We can start to feel paradoxically tired, as if our bodies are getting used to living in an unconscious state. Get 8 hours, and when it’s morning, Carpe Diem!

Number Five: Keep a Positive Attitude!

As with anything, the key is in the approach. Studies have proven that having a positive attitude correlates to more positive outcomes. If we dread going into a test, and believe that we will do poorly, it’s more likely that the outcome of the test will be negative. All of the above tips may help you to keep in a better attitude; when you’re well-rested, well-fed, and well-exercised, what more do you need to feel ready to seize the day? As a member of ATTITUDE Dance Company, this is one piece of advice that I find absolutely critical. Approach everyday with a smile, and you’ll get smiles back. In a very basic sense, it must be true that we reap what we sow.

In conclusion: Stay strong, Brunonians! And know that no matter what happens, as Bobby McFerrin has famously argued, (and is thus the thesis of my work here):

Don’t Worry Be Happy.



[1] Livestrong, “The Best Ways to Stay Healthy”: http://www.livestrong.com/arti…

[2] Harvard School of Public Health: What Should You Eat?

[3] American Cancer Society, via Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/st…


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