Finals depend on health

“Final exams are in two weeks … there is so much to do in so little time … aaugh!”

Preparation for finals can produce a great deal of stress which, if not handled properly, can seriously affect your physical and mental health.

It is best to begin sharpening your coping skills now to maximize your potential during finals week by doing the following things:

Choose a study location that works best for you. For example, you may find the library more conducive to studying than your residence hall.

Say “no” to requests that impinge on your time.

Take time for relaxation and recreation. Engage in activities which help relieve anxiety and tension while giving you a break from studying.

Get enough rest. Lack of sleep can lessen your ability to deal with stress by making you more irritable. Get enough sleep so that you awaken feeling refreshed, alert and in a good mood. To help ensure a good night’s sleep, avoid nicotine and caffeine, especially two to four hours before bedtime.

Limit your caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams per day to avoid its unpleasant side effects. Caffeine in coffee can range from two to 180 mg depending on type and brew. Soda ranges from zero to 60 mg per 12 oz. can, and over-the-counter medications contain as much as 200 mg per tablet.

What about sugar? Sweet snacks can deplete your body of the necessary B-complex vitamins needed to convert sugar to energy. A deficiency of vitamin B can cause symptoms of anxiety, irritability and overall nervousness. This vitamin depletion is further intensified during a stress response.

Limit sodium intake. High levels of table salt or foods high in sodium may result in increasing nervous tension due to the excessive fluid retention.

Eat well-balanced, regular meals; do not skip meals. Be sure to include foods high in vitamin C, B-complex, niacin and choline, which are needed to maintain proper functioning of the body. These essential vitamins play an important role in the body’s stress response.

Remember to keep final exams in proper perspective; they should never be a “do or die” situation.

Take time now to assess your health level and develop a plan to be at your physical and emotional peak during the coming weeks in case you need to extend yourself beyond your normal limits.

For more information, stop by the Wellness Resource Center at the Holmes Student Center or call 753-1435.