Nourish your mind for stress finals week brings

Blake Glosson

Finals week can be a restless time, but there are things you can do to alleviate some of the stress and keep you sharp and alert.

Arguably the most important aspect of a person’s lifestyle that influences brain power is diet. During such an integral period of the semester, it’s important for students to understand which foods to embrace and which ones to avoid.

When it comes to snacking, many students turn to caffeinated beverages such as coffee and energy drinks. While these options might help you stay awake for a short period of time, they won’t give you the sustenance your brain needs to function optimally.

“Caffeine may give you that quick … boost, but could make you feel jittery, and when you’re feeling jittery then it’s hard to focus and stay concentrated and stay on task,” said Beth Lulinski, registered dietitian and nutrition and dietetics instructor. “You’re better off to get some mixed meals like carbohydrates with protein for snacks.”

Along with high-caffeine drinks, foods containing saturated fats and refined sugars can also be added to your block list during finals week.

“Any of the very refined or high sugar products; those also cause a crash,” said Shannon Summers, graduate student of nutrition and dietetics and dietetic intern. “Things like that cause a high glucose spike and then a crash later on. Our brain likes a constant supply of glucose rather than an overload.”

Summers will host a brain foods demo from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday and 9 to 10 a.m. Monday outside of the New Residence Hall dining area to promote student awareness of brain foods available at the dining hall.

“There are quick and easy ways to incorporate these foods to make it worth your effort and to help you succeed in this last week and the stressful week of finals,” Summers said. “This will be a good way of showing [students] that what you eat really does play a role and can really help.”

Foods such as whole grains, leafy greens, lean meats, walnuts and other healthy fats are great choices for cognitive function.

Summers will give you direction of where to find these in New Hall.

Of course, what you eat isn’t the only factor that will affect your energy levels. Exercise and adequate sleep are also major contributors.

“[For students], making sure to keep up at least somewhat of an exercise routine; that not only helps the energy but also your stress levels and can help with sleep. So they kind of all work together,” Summers said.

Lastly, don’t skimp out on sleep. The brain needs sleep to reinforce and maintain memory of information you’ve studied. Pulling a few all-nighters studying isn’t going to be beneficial if you can’t retain the information for the tests.

“To avoid the sleeplessness, start studying now,” Lulinski said. “Then it’s just less stress on you during [finals] week.”

Start preparing today. A few healthy choices in the next couple weeks could go a long way.