Healthy tips to manage end-of-year stress

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As the month of May springs to life, DePauw students start to look forward to the many attractions of the month – the warm weather, soaking up the sun outdoors (unless of course Indiana weather decides to have its periodic mood swings), the numerous social events hosted by the greek houses on campus, being home or abroad for the summer and seeing family and friends. 

However, the one thing we're definitely not looking forward to is among the inevitable: finals. It's the last hurdle we must all cross to reach the other side – filled with fun, friends and frolicking (and summer jobs). 

The finals season on campus can be damaging in many ways – increased stress from all the academic pressure, finalizing travel plans for the summer and catching up on all the work that you have been postponing until the last minute. All this pressure and time crunch situations can have a devastating toll on your health and well-being, which takes an even greater toll on your productivity, throwing off calculations and coherent arguments as well as thwarting plans. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind while preparing for finals and how to stay healthy and fit through this season: 

Exercise — With all the papers and assignments you have to complete, you probably don't have the time to workout, and because it's finals, this excuse seems perfectly justifiable. Big mistake. If you've already read this far into the column, you probably know a little bit about the benefits of working out on productivity. Even half an hour of exercise can greatly increase blood circulation, stimulating your mind and body, making you more focused and productive. A short, explosive workout and a rejuvenating shower will give you the motivation to complete that 15-page paper in no time.

Tip: Start the day with your quick workout. Morning calorie burns are typically higher than burns during the day, and checking off the workout for the day early in the morning will you give you more time to work on school. Also, it's a great feeling of accomplishment and good time management.

Stress Eating – Busy burning the midnight oil preparing for finals? It seems to be the perfect excuse to disregard basic nutritional guidelines, but stress-induced binge eating is a common practice during periods of greater academic pressure in colleges around the country. Just don't forget - Taco Bell, PB & Js, Doritos and Monsters don't exactly make up the food pyramid. It is essential to provide your body with a high-energy, high-fiber diet that will help you pack in more productive hours throughout the day.

Tip: Surround yourself with healthy things – you'll be a lot less likely to eat junk. Fibrous cereal, fruit or even well-balanced sandwiches make the perfect snack between meals.

Hydration – Sleep deprivation (which is almost unavoidable during finals) negatively impacts the body's natural digestion and even affects the basal metabolic rate. To counteract this, keep yourself amply hydrated. And for clarification, Monsters and 5-Hour Energy don't count as sources of hydration. Avoid carbonated and unnecessarily sugary drinks. Stick to water.

 Tip: Drink up. Water, that is.

 

Focus – On a slightly broader note, don't lose sight of the bigger picture. We're all here to learn, not to take finals. So go out and enjoy the breeze once in a while. Do stay productive and manage your time effectively, but remember, health must always be your first priority.

Stay healthy, and happy finals!

— Chatterjee is a sophomore from Kolkata, India, majoring in economics.

features@thedepauw.com