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How to Stay Healthy and Sane(ish) During Finals

End of semester craziness is often inextricably linked with students’ disregard for personal wellbeing. Between spending all waking hours (and possibly those marked for sleeping) studying in the library, consuming copious amounts of caffeine in place of food and water, and forgoing human contact, it’s no wonder we don’t always feel our best during finals. But it doesn’t have to be like this! Below are a few ways I like to keep my health in check so I can do my best on tests and still feel like a functional human being.


Personally, hanger is the root of probably 94% of my problems. If I’m not adequately nourished, I’m going to be grumpy and totally unmotivated to study. Enter, healthy computer friendly snacks. Boredom and irritation can make me want to eat salty, crunchy, carbs like chips and pretzels, and while I thoroughly enjoy these, my computer’s keyboard has other feelings. So if I’m thinking ahead, I like to stick to neater, nutrient dense snacks like Larabars, grapes or dried fruit, yogurt, unsalted nuts, Babybel cheese, etc. 


Brains need water to function, and unfortunately, the most popular study accompaniment happens to deprive it of that. Caffeine can seem like a cure all, but it definitely has a point at which it becomes more detrimental than helpful. I like to limit to 2 cups a day, and as a rule of thumb I drink at least 12-16 oz of water for every cup of coffee I have. You might think that this seems like a lot of liquids, and you would be correct. This results in a phenomenon I like to call procrasturination (see what I did there?). Getting up to pee and refill your water bottle every 45 min to an hour is a never-ending cycle and a great way to build in mini-breaks to marathon studying sessions for stretching the legs and clearing the mind a little. Along that same vein…

Take a Break!:

Stepping away from studying for short increments of time is so beneficial for giving your brain a rest and helps divide up tasks for maximum efficiency. Among my favorites are anything that involves being outside, going for a quick walk, sitting on a bench to eat lunch, or laying in the grass. I’m not sure this next one would be appealing to everyone, but I am a fan of productive procrastination. Come test week, you can find me scrubbing the inside of the microwave or batch cooking enough food to feed an army. Find whatever works. I also like to plan fun activities throughout the weeks on slower days to have something to look forward to. Going to a fun off campus coffee shop for a friend catch-up or indulging a treat-yo-self shopping trip just might do the trick. Usually getting away from campus and everyone’s stress gives me some much needed perspective, and suddenly how I do on my tests doesn’t feel like the only thing in the universe that matters anymore. It’s refreshing.


All of the studying will be for nothing unless it has time to sink in. I always feel like there comes a point when my brain is so full that if I read another word, some info is going to start leaking out. That is when I decide enough is enough and it is time for bed. A well-rested brain is a calm, rational brain which are all good things when taking exams.

When all else fails, I like to tell myself, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important, you is going to be fine.” We’re almost there, stay strong friends!

Kelly is a senior at William and Mary studying biology and kinesiology with plans to become a physician. Outside of class she enjoys reading, spending time outside, being active, and preparing and eating food that nourishes both body and soul.
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