It’s that time of year again. Finals week is here and some of us may be feeling like we’re buried beneath an endless pile of books, exams, and papers. Instead of letting the coming weeks overwhelm you, try to stay calm and pace yourself.

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With these few tips, you can conquer finals week without breaking a sweat.

Get some shut eye! :  Steer clear of the infamous all-nighter. Instead of cramming until the late hours of the night for an exam and loading up on caffeine, remember to get sufficient sleep. According to research, without an adequate night’s sleep, our focus and attention becomes impaired, affecting the brain’s ability to store and retain all that information you’ve been studying.  Plan ahead to get between 7-8 hours of sleep in order to give your brain and memory the chance to perform to its best ability come exam time. You’ll be surprised how much more concentrated and focused you’ll be during the test!

Find a Productive Study Environment: Try studying in a place where distractions are minimal. Start with recognizing the things that distract you most. For me, I have a bad habit of multi-tasking between studying and checking my Facebook newsfeed. During finals week, I have found it helpful to deactivate my Facebook until exams are over. Eliminate those things that tend to sway your concentration from the books, whether it be your cell-phone, the TV, or a chatty roommate.  Find a quiet study area or a cozy corner in the library and get in your “work zone.” You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done without those little distractions.

Fuel Up with the Right Foods: Sometimes when we’re buried in the books, healthy eating goes out the window or we forget to eat all together. It’s important to pick the right foods rather than grabbing a quick bag of chips or ordering take-out. In fact, according to research at UCLA, such foods can negatively impact learning and memory. Try these foods instead:

  • Grab an orange! They’re packed with Vitamin C which is known to reduce stress as well as ease some of the tension you’ve been feeling during these overwhelming times.
  • Green Vegetables: Stop by Lindsay’s Market in Sykes to pick up a fresh salad. Pack it with broccoli, spinach, green peppers, and other dark green veggies filled with the vitamins your body needs to replenish during periods of stress. These vegetables aid in memory retention as well as pump up brain power.
  • Eggs: Start your morning with this protein rich food containing essential amino acids that will keep you full and productive all day long!
  • Dark Chocolate: Looking for that sweet-fix during a study break? Treat yourself to a square of dark chocolate, known to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. You can even add bits of dark chocolate to trail mix sold in Larry’s market for a quick pick-me up.
  • Blueberries: This magic fruit actually enhances long term memory as well as improves cognitive processing (thinking). Grab and handful to snack on while studying.

Move it! : Spending just fifteen minutes of exercise a day helps reduce stress as well as increase overall energy which is much needed during long hours of studying! The more physical activity you do, the more power you’ll have to tackle finals. Try going to the rec-center and taking a brisk walk around the track to stimulate the release of dopamine, a chemical that revs up your energy.

Most importantly, allow yourself some “me time” to recharge and relax. Prioritize your time wisely and schedule in breaks to avoid feeling overworked. Take a deep breath and follow these few tips to keep your stress levels to a minimum. Before you know it, you’ll be waving goodbye to the fall semester and enjoying the long awaited winter break!

Written by Alana Sherman, Peer Educator