Mosaic / Reviews / February 19, 2014

Six ways to de-stress smartly

Midterms may be coming to a close, but only just in time for the finals rush to start. Inevitably, students will start finding themselves at the library more frequently, wondering when extended hours begin, sleeping less and reading until the words on the page start to blur.

In short: studying is stressful. But there are ways to de-stress and retain basic humanity without binging on yet another order of mozzarella sticks from the Gizmo or pulling another all-nighter. Here are some of those ways:

  1. Exercise. It’s been said time and time again, but there’s a reason for that. Now, there’s no need to become a workout junkie who hits the gym for an hour and a half or more every day. Start with 10 minutes. Use this as your break time when transitioning from studying for that economics test to reading for your history lecture. And don’t let exercise become a chore. If you hate running, don’t run. Find something you like to do — whether it’s yoga, going for walks in the recently balmy weather, punching a pillow or dancing to your favorite music — and do that.  Check out the CDC’s breakdown of health benefits — it’s incredibly helpful.
  2. At the very least, stand up. According to NPR, sitting for long periods during the day is no good. So set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes, step away from your computer and stand for a minute or two. Walk around a bit, if you’re feeling adventurous. The truly daring may even venture to stretch.
  3. Drink way more water than you think you need. Moms everywhere will echo this advice. The amount of water that we need in a day varies, according to the Mayo Clinic. So think about it this way: On average, men need 3.3 liters of fluid — about four Camelback water bottles full — and women need 2.2 liters — almost three Camelback water bottles. And keep in mind that you’re more likely to get dehydrated without knowing it during the winter.
  4. Take naps. Not getting enough sleep at night is the college students’ complaint heard ’round the world. But there are ways to feel rested that don’t involve chugging an energy drink or going for that seventh cup of coffee. Napping is one of these ways. And there may even be a perfect nap time: 26 minutes. According to a 1995 study conducted by NASA, naps of those length resulted in improved performance and alertness. You may not be flying giant machinery through the sky, but an impending final exam can be just as formidable. If you’re not convinced of the awesome power of naps, click here.
  5. Snack well. We all get the munchies, but the carb-filled foods we crave may not be the best choice during an all-nighter. In other words: If it reminds you of Thanksgiving dinner, leave it be. You’ll have better luck staying awake — and actually re-energizing — if you go for lean protein, fruits (naturally full of vitamins) and dark leafy greens. While you’re at it, go for foods that will also help your main study tool: Your brain. Walnuts, avocados, beets and garlic are a few suggestions. Get more here.
  6. Treat yourself. Sometimes, it may be best not to follow the rules. If you’re really craving cheese curds to the point that you’re eating everything else in sight trying not to to think about them, then just eat the cheese curds. Or, if you’re beyond tired after consecutive nights of four hours of sleep, find a way to give yourself a break from studies and get those glorious nine hours one night. Continually running yourself down to the wire means that you’re never fully restored, and handling day-to-day tasks will become harder. So, above all, take care of yourself.
Chelsea Embree
Chelsea Embree is a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in art history. She previously served as co-mosaic editor and as an arts and features reporter for TKS. During the summer of 2013, she served as a content intern at The St. Louis Beacon. Chelsea has studied under former Random House copy chief Sean Mills and taught writing as a teaching assistant for First-Year Preceptorial. An avid blogger, she has written extensively about youth in St. Louis and maintains a lively poetry and nonfiction blog on Tumblr. She is also the director of communications for Mortar Board and co-president of Terpsichore Dance Collective.

Tags:  cdc exercise finals food midterms naps nasa NPR sleep studying water Yoga

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