Watch out world - university students are preparing for final exams yet again! What this means will definitely depend on the individual characteristics of the student. For some, it will mean free time because lectures are all done. For others it will mean locking themselves in the library for the next 3 weeks. Even though it may not seem like a priority, it is important for students (and student-athletes) to stay healthy during this time. Many university athletes train hard during the off-season and need to ensure that exam stress doesn't affect physical performance, recovery, or healthy food choices. That means taking time to grocery shop, prep a big batch or two, hydrate, move your body, get fresh air, and allow your brain to rest.
If you're eating unhealthy snack foods and relying on caffeine at all hours of the day you will likely get run down and not be efficient when you do spend time with your books. I still struggle with balance in my life, but I know that clearing my head and/or working out and providing my body with water and nutritious foods allows me to be more productive. When exams end and you're ready to be free for the summer, you don't want to be sick in bed with no energy left.
Focus on a variety of colourful vegetables and fruit to provide important nutrients and fibre. By including lean proteins and healthy fats you will stay full for longer and be able to make it to the next study break without crashing and wishing you had a bag of chips or candy. Yes, you may be strapped for time, but buddy up and have a potluck for a mental/social break or take turns cooking to help whoever is cramming at the moment.
The government of Alberta has a few tips about managing exam time, which includes scheduling snack breaks and eating breakfast the morning of your exam(s). They also have links about dealing with exam stress and anxiety.
I know you don't want to forget the class material, but don't forget to take care of your health and wellbeing!
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching