The student's guide to staying healthy during exams

June 03, 2016
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It’s that time of year, folks. When textbooks are permanently glued to our faces, we have an endless stream of black coffee at the ready and vending machine snacks seem like a good choice for dinner. It’s a time when most of us are questioning why we ever thought this university thing would be a good idea. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.

Who has time to think about physical health when exams are looming just around the corner? Who has time for a jog when there’s a whole semester’s worth of information to cram into your poor brain?

Though it might seem like it belongs at the bottom of the priority list, staying on top of your health and fitness is just as important during the exam period. If anything, it’s more important to stay in tip-top shape to avoid the dreaded flu waiting to knock you on your feet just before the big day. Read on for some super simple and attainable tips on how to stay healthy and give your brain a break during this hectic period.

Keep up your fluids (no, that doesn’t mean more coffee)

Our bodies are about 60 per cent water, so it makes sense that we have to replace the water we lose every day through exam-nerve sweating and all those precious tears shed over revising that one lecture that just doesn’t make sense. 

Take a break every hour to stretch or even do a little jog around the house or library, then go and drink two glasses of water. For those of you who are university-bound, make sure you keep a big drink bottle by your side at all times and fill it up regularly throughout the day.

Avoid all-nighters

Sleep is vital for our bodies to function and is equally important for our brains. Make a list of everything you have to do to revise, then break down those tasks into a day-by-day schedule. Of course, be sure to leave room for food, bathroom breaks and at least a solid six hours of sleep.

While this might seem like a waste of precious time, narrowing things down this way will help you see that everything will get done in time, negating those imminent scheduling panic attacks.

Bonus tip: get up early. No really. You’d never guess how much you can get done before 9am.

Get some vitamin D

You know that great big ball of gas in the sky that you can see from your window and that sometimes wakes you up at ridiculously early times in the morning? Yeah, the sun. It’s good for more than just reminding you of the good old days.

Spending just 10 minutes outside in the sun signals to your body to produce Vitamin D, which is vital for strong bones, muscles and for keeping the flu away. Spending time in the sun can also vastly improve your mood, which is just what you need when you’re in the middle of exam stress. Don’t overdo it though, sunburn is still a thing.

Plan meals ahead

I get it – the last thing you feel like doing after a busy day is cooking. But by preparing food with plenty of nutritious vegetables, this will be beneficial to your concentration as well as your physical wellbeing. In those rare moments when you take a break, prepare your food in advance then freeze the leftovers so you’ll have an easy meal for a study break. This is the much better option than greasy takeaway or high-fat instant meals.

Go forth, my friends, and stay healthy while you slay your exam dragons. We believe in you.

Shannon Coward

Shannon is a third year Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Queensland. She enjoys period dramas, doughnuts and a good nap.

Image: Demi Brookes, Flickr Creative Commons license