Becky Reed a final year student studying Sport and Social Sciences writes about how you can stay well in these last few months before the summer.
So, it’s really happening. For many of us, there are only a few months left until we hand in our final assignment or sit our final exam. Wow. How quickly have these years gone?!
During this time, you may be feeling an immense amount of pressure. You may feel like there’s a lot riding on your performance during this period. But, it is vital that we remember that although our priorities may be on our academic studies, we are human and need to look after ourselves.
It can be really easy to forget about looking after yourself when workload increases. ‘Just an extra half hour’ to finish something off, which may mean you lose time for, or simply forget about, important self-care practices.
Here are some tips of how to keep you healthy during these last few months. Just remember, if you don’t look after yourself, your emotional and physical health will suffer, which will likely reduce your academic performance.
- Keep hydrated: We all know the importance of keeping our body hydrated, no more so than when our brain is having to work extra hard. Drink regularly throughout the day to maintain these levels.
- But… avoid caffeine (sorry): It can be really tempting to fuel ourselves with caffeinated drinks such as coffee, Coke, and Red Bull, to heighten our energy levels, and keep us going for longer. But, ultimately, these can be counterproductive. A huge high, will only ever be followed by a massive crash in energy levels. Caffeine can have negative effects on your body, affecting sleep patterns, hydration levels, and ultimately energy levels.
- Instead, eat good food little and often: This is an ideal way to maintain energy levels throughout the day. Try and stick to regular meals, and then add in healthy snacks like nuts, peanut butter on toast, and avocado to help fuel your brain. Not only will this help maintain your energy, but it will also help to protect against viruses. When the body is stressed it can be more vulnerable to illness, so making sure it has the appropriate tools to defend against it is necessary to keep you well.
- Give your brain a break: Your brain is like any other part of your body. It gets tired. It can only do so much before it loses its productivity. Everyone works differently in terms of how long you are able to sit and work. But, if you feel like it’s not going in, or you’re developing a headache… walk away! Your brain isn’t working properly. Don’t punish yourself for this break, or think you aren’t working hard enough. Your brain is telling you it needs to stop for a bit. Listen to it, and you’ll be far more productive in the long run.
- Give yourself time to be the uni student you have been before finals: University is much more than studying – it’s a lifestyle, of which you only have a few months left to enjoy. Think of things you have enjoyed doing over your time at University, and make sure you keep doing them, even if it is slightly less. Whether that’s involvement with a society, going to the gym, or going for dinner with friends. These are all so important in keeping you happy and healthy.
- Exercise: Exercise has been repeatedly proven to have endless benefits on our health, including on mood and brain productivity. I’m not suggesting you run a marathon, it can be anything that lifts your heart rate, including going for a walk, practicing yoga, or having a kick about with friends. This will give your brain a well-deserved rest, whilst also get endorphins (happy hormones) pumping, hopefully leaving you feeling relaxed, happy, and positive.
- Get some fresh air: Take a walk around the beautiful area we live in, and allow your brain to switch off.
- Get regular sleep: Try and not reduce your sleep time due to studying. Sleep is so important for recovery. If you are struggling to get sleep due to not being able to ‘switch off’….
- Try apps like HeadSpace: These are really good at calming the mind, and helping it to stop thinking about study, study, study. There are a few different apps out there, but also listening to your music preferences could help you.
Please look after yourself and your friends during these last few months of your degree. We all want to get the best out of ourselves academically, but this should not be at jeopardy of our health. If you feel like you are struggling, there are people that can help:
- Director of Studies
- Personal Tutor
- Student Services