The semester is ending, exams are looming, and you have no time left for anything but studying. Sound familiar? It’s common to feel overwhelmed during exam season but there are tons of small changes you can incorporate to feel better and stay healthy during this stressful time.
Below are 4 tips you can use this exam season to keep yourself happy and healthy!
1. Manage Stress Eating
If you’ve never heard of mindful eating, exam season is the perfect time to try it out! When we are stressed we tend to miss our hunger cues. When we miss our hunger cues, we often may eat over comfortable fullness or eat too little or even not eat at all. This prevents us from really enjoying what we’re eating, and noticing how it makes us feel. Did you know that it takes at least 20-30 minutes for us to feel our hunger cues?
Try this 3 step mindful eating practice at your next meal or snack and see if you have a more enjoyable experience:
- Sit down with no distractions: this means put your phone down and put your notes away, they can wait a few minutes.
- Pay attention to the experience: notice the flavours, textures, aroma, and colours of the food.
- Take your time: if you feel yourself rushing, take a deep breath and slow down. After eating, wait a moment and check in with yourself - Do you need more food? Do you feel satisfied?
2. Use the Plate Model Proportions
Need a visual guide? Try following the Canada’s Food Guide plate model during mealtimes! The method is simple: fill half your plate with mostly vegetables and some fruit, quarter of your plate with proteins and last quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, etc.
Aim to follow the plate model proportions and have regular meals in a day to support your body to the best of its ability. This is a general guide but it works for most people, and can help you eat a more balanced and nutritious meal. Selecting more whole foods will keep you full and satisfied so you can power through your study sessions.
3. Strengthen Your Immune System
Having a balanced eating pattern of whole foods will help to improve immune health. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), eggs, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of key nutrients like vitamins and minerals that can boost your immune system, keeping you healthy all through exam season. Many of these foods strengthen your gut as well!
- Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers are high in vitamin C, whereas sweet potatoes, squash, kale, carrots and dairy provide vitamin A or carotenoids to support the immune system.
- Fish and seafood are excellent sources of zinc, but there are many vegan options high in zinc such as sesame seeds, cashews, and chickpeas which can help boost your immunity.
- Carrots and dip, roasted chickpeas, or apples and cheese make tasty and nutritious study snacks that are also easy to prepare!
4. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is super important for your overall health, including your brain health. The simplest way to stay hydrated is drinking more water during the day – you can find water fountains with water bottle refill stations throughout campus, such as on the main floor of the Nest. There are lots of ways to get in more water during the way, such as adding fruit to your water bottle, or trying carbonated water if you want some fizz.
Exam season is stressful, but staying hydrated and incorporating some healthy eating habits can make it much easier. Mindful eating is relaxing during this hectic time, and incorporating more nutritious whole foods into your meals and snacks are great ways to support your immune system during exams.