Finals 101: Take care of your brain and body and they will take care of you.

Finals 101: Take care of your brain and body and they will take care of you.

A stressed out student holds a book over her face.

Finals got you feeling stressed? You’re not alone.

According to the American Institute of Stress, a whopping 8 in 10 college students report experiencing stress frequently. A study by The Higher Education Research Institute found that college students report being more stressed out now more than ever before.  

It makes complete sense: students are juggling multiple classes, exams, extracurricular activities, side jobs, internships, and a social life. It’s a lot to try to handle. Add in an international pandemic with no clear end in sight, and it’s a recipe for disaster. 

High levels of stress can impact productivity and lead to poor academic performance. That’s the opposite of what you’re going for, we know!

While we can’t promise you an A+ on all your finals, we can offer you some tried-and-true solutions for stress.

Take care of your brain.

  • Silence your inner critic. You might be familiar with your inner critic, that voice whispering in your brain, “You’re a failure! You aren’t smart enough. You won’t do well on your finals.” Time to banish that voice! According to Psychology Today, “The best intervention [to silence your inner critic] may be to respond to its grievances from a detached perspective—almost as if you were another person.” This technique is called self-distancing, and it involves replacing the first-person pronoun “I” with “you” or “he/she” when talking to yourself. 

“Instead of feeling pain again, as when you recount an experience in the first-person mode, self-distancing allows you to pause, step back, and think as clearly and rationally as if it had happened to someone else,” stated researcher Dr. Ethan Kross, who works at the University of Michigan’s Emotion & Self Control Lab.

  • Meditate. One way to take care of your brain is to practice meditation. Check out guided meditations on an app like Calm or Headspace. 

Mayo Clinic recommends meditation as a healthy way to reduce stress: “During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.”

Take care of your body.

  • Get enough sleep. We all know how important sleep is, so make sure to act on it and get plenty of rest before finals. 

Dr. Lawrence Epstein, the medical director of Sleep HealthCenters in Brighton, Massachusetts, and an instructor at Harvard, explained: “Studies have shown that adequate sleep is essential to feeling awake and alert, maintaining good health and working at peak performance.”

“After two weeks of sleeping six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 hours,” he continued. “New research also highlights the importance of sleep in learning and memory. Students getting adequate amounts of sleep performed better on memory and motor tasks than did students deprived of sleep.”

  • Eat well-rounded meals. Food is fuel for the body, so make sure you’re getting enough nutrients to keep you going. Try to eat well-rounded meals that offer a mix of fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbs. 

Mayo Clinic recommends drinking lots of water in addition to eating nutrient-dense meals. They suggest avoiding soda and other sugary drinks, as they cause your blood sugar to peak and then crash.

  • Move your body. You don’t have to run a half-marathon or go to a CrossFit class to reap the benefits of exercise. Simply going for a walk, stretching your muscles, or working out for a short period of time helps reduce tension and relieve stress.  

As Mayo Clinic explains: “Exercise can provide stress relief for your body while imitating effects of stress, such as the flight or fight response, and helping your body and its systems practice working together through those effects. This can also lead to positive effects in your body—including your cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems—by helping protect your body from harmful effects of stress.” 

If you’re still feeling stressed even after taking care of your brain and body, consider booking a virtual appointment with a therapist. 

Thanks to myURGENCYMD, you can chat with a licensed therapist, doctor, or healthcare advocate in the comfort and privacy of your own dorm or apartment. You can find the help you need quickly and conveniently.

With myURGENCYMD, you skip the waiting room and your questions and concerns are answered and addressed in the place where you’re most comfortable: your home! 
Interested in joining? Learn more about membership!

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