7 Dietitian Tips to Manage Stress This Exam Season
Exam season is among us which can mean a jam-packed schedule of studying. Here are my 7 tips to help manage the stress that can come along with this time of year. Because your health and well-being is worth it!
1. Fuel up on healthy food. Eating nutrient dense balanced meals helps you stay alert and focused, solve problems, learn and memorize information. This means grabbing items high in fibre, protein, fruits and veggies. Remember the plate model? Check it out here and find mindful options around campus by looking for the apple symbol.
2. Make time for meals. This is easier said than done when it comes to a busy exam schedule, but it’s important! Eating every 3 to 4 hours (3 meals and snacks when needed) maintains your blood sugar levels and keeps your energy up. When we skip meals, our blood pressure can drop and contribute to anxiety symptoms. Pro tip: Plan ahead! Some find it helpful to schedule your meal breaks and have some snacks ready on hand. Check out my study snack blog post for ideas. Also, many locations have extended hours of operation for the exam period, which can be found here.
3. Stay Hydrated. Even minor dehydration can cause tiredness, irritability, headaches and can impair your attention and memory. Check your pee! If it’s pale yellow, you’re in the clear. If it’s dark yellow, up your intake! Pro tip: Carry your reusable water bottle in your bag and choose herbal teas or milk with your next TAM purchase.
4. Cut down on caffeine. Too much caffeine can give you the jitters, cause an upset tummy, insomnia, headaches and irritability. Health Canada recommends staying below 400mg of caffeine per day, which means about 2-3 cups of coffee or 4-10 cups of tea. More information on caffeine can be found here.
5. Get your 150! Your body releases endorphins when you exercise. These bad boys improve your mood and reduce anxiety, stress and depression during this cold, gloomy winter season of exams. Health Canada recommends 30 min 5 days a week. This doesn’t mean you have to sign up for the next marathon, it could mean speed walking to class, taking the stairs, or hitting the ARC for a much-needed study break.
6. Make sleep a priority. Research suggests that you remember new information better when you get some rest after you study. On the flip side, a lack of sleep can increase our hunger hormone and lead to less impulse control. Both of which can make eating well more difficult. How much sleep should you be getting? About 7-9 hours each night! Read some sleep strategies here.
7. Take a break. Taking some you-time is important for your mental health. Watch for some de-stressing activities around campus this December including Carnival in the dining halls and Queen’s Be Well activities.