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Midterms, and winter and classes: oh my!

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(bottled_void/ Flickr)

(bottled_void/ Flickr)

It is a stressful time for everyone right now.  The days are short and cold, midterms are upon us and scholarships and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) looms in the background. If all of the stress from the semester is starting to get to you, take a look at these five tips to give you a mood booster.

  1. Eat breakfast and a balanced diet.

Everyone knows the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but you should understand that beginning your day with breakfast actually correlates with balanced blood sugar levels and helps keep you less hungry throughout the day. According to a study conducted by the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, people who eat a high-fiber, low-carb breakfast are more energized throughout the day compared to those who consume a high fat breakfast. Eating a smaller, high-energy breakfast promotes focus. So, when you wake up, try having something like a veggie omelet, a bowl of oatmeal or a protein bar. These foods will keep you full and give you the energy you need to get going.

It is important to keep a balanced diet in order to combat lack of sunlight and increased stress levels. This means focusing on eating a lot of fruits, vegetables and foods that are complex carbohydrates, high in protein and high in vitamin D. When going to the dining hall, load up on foods like brown rice, potatoes, fish, nuts, lean meats and milk. These foods promote healthy digestion, increase concentration, boost energy, fight fatigue and depression and strengthen the immune system.

  1. Drink water

Dehydration slows down enzymatic activity in the body, and can result in lack of focus, premature aging, high blood pressure, digestive disorders and fatigue. Drinking water when you are thirsty is a necessity. On that note, during this time it is probably best to stay away from your favorite caffeinated drinks. Caffeinated drinks can cause dehydration, spiked insulin levels and lower blood pressure and can also cause restlessness, insomnia, irritation and nausea. Instead of your regular latte, try fruit infused water instead. Hydrating will perk you up and keep you going throughout the day.

  1. Focus on self-awareness

With the hustle and bustle of college, it can often feel like you are in a constant cycle of waking up, going to class, doing homework and going to sleep. It is easy for us to forget that we need to take time for ourselves to relax and unwind. A great way to do this is by meditating. Meditation is a relaxing process which allows an individual to focus their mind and body to increase self-awareness. Meditation has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and increasing focus and productivity. Try taking 15 minutes out of your day to listen to some relaxing music and spend time focusing on yourself. If meditation is not your thing, try reading a book, watching some TV or planning a fun night out with your friends. It is important to take time out of your day for you, and it will pay off in the long run.

  1. Get going

When it is cold out, there is nothing better than staying in inside all day and being lazy, but as tempting as that is, we need to get moving. Try to motivate yourself to wake up and start your day earlier by making breakfast plans with friends or developing a morning yoga routine.  By getting up and moving, you will have more energy during your day and be awake and alert by the time you get to class.

Getting exercise is also a huge help. Exercise gets your body going, boosts your mood and self-confidence and contributes to an overall healthier lifestyle. Take time out of your schedule for at least 30 minutes of any kind of exercise five days of the week. You will feel healthier and happier if you do. Try to take advantage of the sporadic warm weather. Running, walking or playing sports with your friends outside will keep your vitamin D levels up and give you some time in the fresh air.

  1. Get some sleep

It is harder to make it through difficult times if you are constantly exhausted. Getting six to eight hours of sleep per night is extremely important for your health. Lack of sleep contributes to fatigue, a weakened immune system, higher risk for mental health issues, lower academic performance and higher stress levels. In order to be a functional student and a coherent person, you need your rest. Cramming will not do you any good if you cannot make it through class without falling asleep.

I hope these tips help you to get through midterms and this last stretch of winter. For some of us, stress feels like a constant state of being this time of year, but it will pass and with these tips we can all stay alert, happy and healthy through it all.

Marissa Vertes can be reaches at [email protected]

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