Your Health Matters More Than an ‘A’ in Anthropology | By Whitney Fox

It’s time for midterms here at the university, and by far the second most stressful time of year. During these late night study sessions and bright and early mornings, don’t lose track of something that matters more than an A in Anthropology, your health. Despite the fact that everyone can feel their body starting to shut down, we insist on fueling it with caffeine instead of a good night’s rest.

Yes, sometimes you feel like midterms are the most important thing in your life, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your health! Everyone knows a student who sacrifices their sleep and I even know a few people who will skip meals just to get a few extra minutes of study time, but this will not help you. Not only will it cause your mind to work extra hard to concentrate when it doesn’t have the fuel it needs, you might just end up not absorbing the information. I think everyone has had a night before a test where they stay up late to study an extra bit of information, then the following day, you still can’t recall that information. Here are some quick tips to stay in top mental condition during exams:

1. Get some sleep

I know as well as the next student that it’s tempting to stay up late to finish that Calculus assignment, or study for the Biochem quiz you have on Thursday, but nothing will help you study harder than a good night’s rest. If you continually stay up late to study and do homework, you might drive yourself into sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can cause moodiness, and particularly a lack of brain function in the temporal lobe, where you process language. So not only will you be tired for your lectures the next day after a late night study session, you probably won’t comprehend much either!

2. Eat real food

Stop eating KD for a bit and eat a well-balanced meal. You’ll be surprised at how energetic you’ll feel with “good” fuel in your body instead of those nasty surgery pastries and coffees from Tims! Say no to the addicting coffee and just focus on eating vegetables and fruits, things that will keep your brain in tip-top shape! If you find that veggies aren’t very filling (as many people do) then just make sure to have a variety of vegetables and protein in your meals. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated, and snack on things like nuts, which are filled with the “good” kind of fats that your body likes!

3. Lay off the Liquor

Liquor is a stimulant that lets you feel good fast. Though you might feel better, like you could skip a few more nights of sleep, it has negative consequences on your mood when you’re sober. Drinking can also lead to a lack of sleep, since most of us prefer to drink during the nighttime, when Whyte is crawling with people. I’m not saying you should completely give up alcohol during midterms, just don’t overdo it. Instead, swap two glasses of water for every one alcoholic beverage that you would normally consume. Not only will it wake you up, but it also keeps your skin hydrated.

4. Get out and exercise

Exercise will give your body some time to de-stress. Take a quick walk around campus to work off the study-blues that everyone gets after being cooped up for so long. I know we’ve had some pretty snowy weather here in Edmonton, so if walking around in the cold doesn’t sound appealing, then take a couple hours to find all the secret passageways around campus! Find a way to get from building to building without going outside by using the walkways, the underground pathways, etc. By the time you’re done exploring, you’ll not only have been walking around for a long time, but you might also find some shortcuts to your classes!

5. Let loose and have fun

Don’t forget that you need to have fun too! Regardless of your need to study, you can allow yourself breaks. Whether that includes hitting up RATT or Dewey’s for a couple beers with some friends, or even watching your favourite TV shows on Netflix for a couple hours, you need to give yourself some mental breaks. If you’re underage or maybe just looking for something different, check the U of A Facebook pages for some awesome guest speakers and other exciting events. Check The Wanderer Online for any interesting events that might appeal to you. Remember, the SU hosts a monthly movie night, CCIS has the observatory open on Thursdays, etc. There are plenty of things you can do while on and off campus! Fun and mindless activities will allow your brain to slow down and just mellow out before the next big study sesh.

Just remember these tips when you go to study for the rest of your midterms and keep it in mind when finals come around!

For more mental health awareness articles, read here, here and here

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