It seems like just days ago when students unpacked cars and headed into residence halls or sat at their laptops looking for inexpensive textbooks. Believe it or not - it's time to prepare for finals week. It's no secret that finals week can be a stressful time. So, let's prepare wholistically - mind, body, and soul.
It's essential to maintain physical activity.
That's right. Keep your body moving. Leave the desk and move your body. According to the CDC (2023), exercise can help to reduce anxiety and increase memory. Those two benefits are perfect for the end of the semester. Take a movement break. Get some cardio activity, stretch, or go for a walk.
Fuel your body with a healthy diet.
Also, drink water and eat meals full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I know you realize that healthy eating and staying hydrated will give your body the fuel it needs. We expect a great deal from our brains. Harvard Health (2023) explains that eating and drinking affect our brain structure, function, and moods.
Enjoy some sunlight and fresh air.
Go outside whenever you can. Consider studying outside, having lunch outdoors, or even starting the day in the daylight before classes or work begins. Your time outdoors provides vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight can increase your body's production of Serotonin, which can positively impact moods and emotions (PBS, 2022).
I don't know about you, but being still and quiet can be challenging for me. Intentionally finding time for quiet and reflection will help keep everything in perspective. Many years back, I started focusing on carving out some time to sit quietly and be still with intentional breathing to clear my mind and relax my stressed-out shoulders, which were close to locking up again.
First, I became more familiar with sitting in quiet. Later, I layered on meditation. Now, I can be in a silent space for hours. Although occasionally, my brain enjoys some instrumental-only music while I'm working.
Take it one small chunk at a time. Place five, ten, or fifteen minutes of silence on your schedule. Then, create quiet time at the start and end of the day. Before you know it, you'll also crave a calm spot between class and work hours.
Quiet time is so important. The Harvard Business Review (2017) reports that having this peaceful time restores our nervous system and enhances our ability to navigate the complexities of our days.
Capture the moments.
Additionally, daily journaling can increase purpose development, establish self-efficacy, and improve interpersonal relationships. Find time to write down your account of the day, the celebrations, challenges, and lessons. I once shied away from journaling because I thought I had to write a certain amount of words in a beautiful narrative format. I later gave myself grace and realized that journaling could come in any written form, even a bulleted list of the events and lessons of the day.
Self-care routines are helpful all school year, especially during the busy end of the semester. While you finish the last assignments of the semester and prepare for finals, remember to take great care of yourself. Attending to your mind, body, and soul will help you remain calm and productive.
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