It’s that time of year! Final exams, research papers, and final projects gives you lots to do, but not a lot of time to get it all done. This can result in less sleep, less exercise, and poor nutrition choices. It is even more important during a stressful time to stay focused on making healthy choices - getting enough sleep, fitting in physical activity, and choosing good foods.
Some individuals eat more during a stressful period. This has been referred to as “stress eating.” In 2010, a study from the University of Michigan found that when levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) increased, even in healthy, non-stressed adults, they ate more snack foods.
A healthy lifestyle can improve your focus and concentration, which can help you to be more efficient and can actually result in you completing your work in less time. Here are some great tips to keep you healthy and focused during this stressful time.
- Too much stress can disrupt your efforts of being organized. Take regular breaks when you think you need them - and even when you don't. Even if it is taking a 10-minute walk or making a phone call to a friend, any break is good for your brain and body.
- Caffeine may give you a quick boost - but don’t overdo it. If you drink too many caffeinated beverages it may increase dehydration as these beverages may end up taking the place of water or other hydrating beverages. Avoid caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon as this could disrupt your sleep.
- Drink water often throughout the day. At meals, between meals and during a study break!
- Pre-plan meals and snacks. This can help cut down on making impulsive less healthy choices.
- Eat small frequent meals throughout the day. Avoid allowing too much time between meals and snacks. If you go longer than 4 hours without eating you will begin to feel fatigued, which may result in decreased concentration.
- Limit consumption of high-fat and high sugar snacks. These items can zap your energy level - it is important to keep your energy level up by choosing healthy snacks as often as possible. Healthy high-energy snack options include:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Apple with peanut butter
- Low-fat yogurt with fruit or whole grain crackers
- Low-fat pudding
- Vegetable soup
- A handful of trail mix
- A handful of almonds
- A bowl of cereal
- Oatmeal made with milk
- A piece of fruit
- Time management: Tips to reduce stress and improve productivity. Accessed December 4, 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/time-management/wl00048.
- Stress Management. Accessed December 3, 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001942.htm.
- Nutrition: Healthy Eating When Busy or Stressed. Accessed December 4, 2011. http://www.uhs.uga.edu/stress/strategies.html.