How to: stay healthy through the stress of exam week

Exams, what some would classify as the most dreaded time in the life of a college student, have arrived.

Many of us are guilty of picking up some extra unhealthy habits during this week, but this time around can be different if you follow these simple steps.

1. Eat breakfast.

It’s true what they say; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast gets your minded fueled and ready for your exams (especially those annoying 8 a.m. ones) and without it, you lack energy, motivation and readiness for the day.

Make a special trip over to the grocery store and pick up some Special K cereal, which is double threat- it comes in many different flavors and it’s under $3. This cereal is just one example of a healthy and cheap breakfast option, but whatever you choose, just make sure you don’t miss this important meal.

2. Bring food to eat in between exams.

Many students live off campus, making it difficult and impractical to make a separate trip home to grab lunch in between exams. However, this also increases the temptation to swing by one of the convenient fast food places very near campus.

If possible, avoid this temptation and pack food to bring with you to campus. A sandwich or fruit are simple things you can eat between exams to keep you energized and ready to take on that exam you’ve been stressing over. Most importantly, you’ll save yourself the calories you’d pick up at a fast food place!

3. Drink water.

Water, water, water! This is one of the most important steps, and while it isn’t the choice drink during exam week for most college students, it’s the best.

Drinking water keeps you hydrated and healthy, which is important because the last thing you need is to get sick during exam week! Choose water over the soft drinks available on campus or at your apartment. This healthier choice is cheaper, too; all you have to do is bring your own water bottle and there are numerous places to fill it all over campus.

Soft drinks and energy drinks will only provide temporary energy, but cause a regrettable crash soon after, so avoid these drinks if possible.

4. Dodge stress eating.

We’re all guilty of making that late night run to Taco Bell to indulge during one of the most stressful weeks of the semester, but avoiding stress eating is one of the most important factors to consider.

Instead of wasting both gas and calories running to a fast food place or to the grocery store for something sweet, have a few things ready when this temptation arises.

For example, put together a fruit and yogurt parfait or some whipped cream and strawberries. These are healthier alternatives, which simultaneously satisfy your sweet tooth. Another great alternative is to buy that box of candy you’ve been craving, but limit yourself to only that box for exam week, which will make it easy not to go overboard.

5. Pass up the vending machine.        

These machines should have a sign over them that reads, “Warning: Empty Calories.”

Avoid vending machines at all costs; they waste your valuable change (which you need to do laundry or park at the meters) and they don’t have any nutritional value whatsoever. The snacks that are typically in these machines, such as candy bars, chips and crackers will only keep you fueled for a short amount of time, while racking up your calorie count for the day.

Instead of wasting your money here, stop by a quick, on-campus store where healthy alternatives are provided, such as sandwiches, cheese sticks, yogurt and fruit cups.

These items are much more valuable to your health and well-being than what you would find in a vending machine.

6. Avoid too much coffee.

Coffee is the drink consumed during exam week, but like energy drinks, too much can be dangerous.

Too much coffee causes a serious crash, which may happen during an exam or a critical study time.

When pulling an all-night study session, coffee can be very alluring to help accomplish this task, but these drinks often to more harm than good. Pulling an all-nighter with the assistance of coffee will make you more tired and less focused during your exam and could be detrimental to the grade you have worked so hard to earn.

Instead of drinking coffee, take a quick run outside or do a couple of jumping jacks to stay awake. You don’t have to go far or do a lot, but exercise can help you stay alert and awake, and gives you a break from studying.