Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Surviving the Stress

Hi everybody!
It's been so long since I've posted anything and I am terribly sorry for that - finals, sminals.

My life this past week revolved around studying, food, sleep, and repeat - due to finals week. But, for the first time in my college career, this was one of the least stressful Finals weeks, ever.
Don't get me wrong, yes I was stressed and may have had a slight break down toward the last day but, overall my week of studying was very relaxed and almost... dare I say, enjoyable?
No. Never say that.

I did a lot of different things this week that I normally don't do during Finals. Making these couple of changes definitely ended up helping me in the end!

I came up with a list of a few tips I learned throughout the week. These are not new tips that I made up but things that I have always had people tell me to do but did not put into action until recently. Don't be me. I swear this stuff works.

1. Have a schedule! - I am a schedule person. I love scheduling. I love organizing. I love lists. I cannot tell you how many people have told me to write up a study schedule and how helpful it can be!  This past week, before I started studying, I sat down and finally wrote up a study schedule. It had everything on it. I'm actually surprised that I didn't write bathroom breaks on there. That's how detailed it was. I had each day as a column and the times along the left hand side starting from 7:30AM - 12:00AM. I also had each class, lunch, break and dinner color coded. So, for example, all of my Lunches are colored orange and my Breaks/Dinners are colored red (as you can see in the picture). Then I wrote in my exam times and filled in my studying from there. I divided everything up so that I was never reviewing all of the information at the one time. I also planned it so I was never studied new information the day of.
This schedule was my lifeline throughout the week. I followed this schedule almost to a T. It also helped me refrain from getting too overwhelmed and studying too late at night - because it wasn't on the schedule to do that!
*Side note: I also do this for each semester. I organize my classes, work schedule, + meetings, and extracurriculars throughout the week. In that schedule I even put when to workout so there is no excuse not to do it.
Sorry this is so difficult to read, darn excel.

2. Power up your body! Eat right! - As you may have already guessed. I love food. I was never and will never be one of those people who "forgets to eat". I have friends who do this and I just don't get it! I plan my whole day around food I would never forget to eat! This is especially true for Finals week, when your brain is fully focused on studying and retaining information it may be hard to work in a good meal. But I promise, your body will thank you! Your body needs the energy to keep powering through your studying and skipping a meal or even eating empty,useless calories is never a good thing! When planning my schedule, I always gave myself an adequate amount of time to make a decent meal to eat or heat up the meal from the day before.
The first meal of the day can also set a standard for the rest of your day of productivity! One of my best/most productive days of studying was done after drinking this amazing, protein smoothie. It kept me energized for hours and kept me full and focused! Remember that the more satisfied + energized your body is from the amazing nutrients your body is taking in - the more alert and focused your brain will be!

Strawberry, Banana, Choco-Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie!
1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 Scoop Vega One Choc-A-Lot Protein Powder
1 Frozen Banana
1 Cup Frozen Whole Strawberries

1. Throw the frozen fruit into the blender with Almond Milk to get the blender going.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth + creamy!

Nutrition per Smoothie:
304 Calories, 47.5g Carbs, 5.1g Fat, 20.8g Protein
I also made one of my favorite lunches - Turducken and green beans! Monty, my cat or that black blog in the picture, seemed to think it smelled amazing - as you can see!  I love green beans and am pretty sure I ate them every day last week. See how I made them in this post here.

3. Pick the right study space! - When I study I need to be spread out across every which, way! And I definitely need to be somewhere where there is tons of light! I hate studying in a place that is dark and dreary, with little to no windows. The space I chose this semester has tons of natural light + tons of room which makes studying so much more enjoyable!
Make sure your study place is right for you! Pick a place that makes you want to study but also doesn't make you want to go straight to sleep. That is why I chose to study downstairs. I knew that if I were to study in my room I would get anything done because my bed and TV are both within arms length. Studying at my kitchen table gave me enough space overall to feel relatively happy while I was studying!
4. Have a good study buddy! - I cannot study with people. Unless it is information I already know, I just cannot do it. I need complete quiet with zero distractions. But, this finals week I did have an amazing study partner that helped me through it all.
This little guy was by my side throughout the entire week. He was the perfect study partner that I needed so I would not go crazy in a house by myself! He was also hilarious to watch {which allowed for the perfect short study breaks}. He is obsessed with squirrels, so whenever a squirrel would pass by the window he would stare at it, bark and whine - poor thing!
For those of you studying with real people make sure you pick a study buddy that will help motivate you along the way! Studying with your best friend may seem like a good idea, but if you or your friend are known to talk a lot and get easily distracted - you might want to rethink your study bud! If you and your friend make the perfect study team, then more power to ya!
5. Be active! - This Finals week I told myself I would wake up early and workout to get my brain going before I started studying. Well, that didn't happen. But since I had Cabela with me for the entire week we took lots of trips outside. We would throw the ball, run in the backyard, stare at squirrels - tons of exciting stuff! One day we even played with the next door neighbors dog in their pool. That was a great study break!
Although I never "worked out", I was active and took a step away from my work to let the information soak in. It is actually scientifically proven that students who exercise before, after, or in-between studying perform better on exams than those who do not! It helps keep you alert , energized and refreshed. Check out this article for more info! Stepping away from studying also allows for you to more adequately absorb the information you have just learned. Try it out! You will be amazed at how much information you retained just by taking a short, active break!
6. Sleep! - I hate "all-nighters". Yep, I said it. I like my sleep way too much to deprive my body of not sleeping for an entire day. And then, on top of that, stressing about an exam I have that day. If you notice on my schedule from earlier in this post I never studied past 12AM, some nights not even past 11PM. I believe that putting the added strain on my body by staying up all night to study is actually more harmful than getting those 7-8 hours of sleep. Now don't get me wrong, I have done "all-nighters" before when they were absolutely necessary.
Do I regret it now because I know how detrimental it can be on my body? Yes.
Do I think I did extraordinarily well on the test because I stayed up all night? No.
I know for me personally, and from what I have seen in others, it takes a long time for your body to recover from an "all-nighter". While searching for some info about the benefits/consequences of "all-nighters" I came across this amazing infographic from UrbanTimes that talks about the consequences pulling an "all-nighter" can have on your body. Check it out!
Here's some highlights from it!
Short Term:
- Researchers found that a surge of overly optimistic emotions exist but is short lived
- The ability to learn and retain info decreases
- Lack of sleep can lead to the inability to control your emotions
Long Term:
- Lack of sleep can lead to diabetes or kidney failure
- Lead to insulin resistance and diabetes, heart disease and stroke
- Weakens the immune system (get sick more easily)
Check out this article about why getting enough sleep is so important to test taking!
7. Believe in yourself! - Ultimately you, and you alone, are in charge of how well or how poorly you do on any given test. If you put the effort forward and complete the requirements there is nothing standing in your way of doing well! Just remember that you can do anything you set your mind to and if you need the extra help don't hesitate to ask your professor, friend, or classmate for the help! It will definitely pay off in the end!
 I found this picture of Pinterest and thought it was the perfect motivation for what I was talking about!
That's all for now!
Hope this helps you guys!
Have a fit + fantastic day!


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