Here is how to beat anxiety during finals week without stimulants or depressants:
Staying up until 6 in the morning, pacing around the halls, forgetting to shower, chugging coffee like it’s water—we all know what exam week can look like (if we don’t prepare ahead of time). Because we’re cramming so much information and letting stress overtake our bodies-we can become anxious, stressed out, and exhausted. When we become tired- we might call on stimulants to help us power through. When we start running on empty, we may make choices that we think are helping our productivity but are in fact hindering it even further. Research recently proved that caffeine and study pills actually exacerbate stress and anxiety, even though they keep us awake to do our work. Psychologist Norman B. Schmidt, PhD, found that, "If you tend to be a high-strung, anxious person, using a lot of caffeine can be risky-" and can actually exacerbate your anxiety. Caffeine's negative effects have become so serious that the American Psychiatric Association has added three related disorders to its list of official diagnoses: caffeine intoxication, caffeine-related anxiety, and caffeine-related sleep disorders.
Caffeine dehydrates the body, making it easier to feel unfocused, moody, and tired-- yet also unable to get deep sleep. Alcohol causes sugar spikes if consumed before bed-causing light sleep for up to a few hours until the alcohol is processed, which could take a few hours. This means less truly restful sleep, making you more tired later on.
Want ways to help manage your exam stress? Instead of turning to caffeine or alcohol to help you get through exam week, try:
1. Having a balanced diet- Fresh fruit and vegetables will give you reserves of energy and increase your ability to concentrate. Also try your best to avoid the junk food and foods high in sugar. 2. Getting 8 hours of sleep a night. If that is not possible, try to take short 20 minute power naps throughout your study day. Sleeping can help you retain information so short naps will increase your memory. Even though pulling an all-nighter may seem like a good idea at the time, it will tire you out in the long run- 24 to 48 hours later. 3. Making time for exercise breaks even if it is for only 15 to 20 minutes. Go outside and walk the dog or take a jog around the block. Changing up your scenery and moving around will help give you more energy. 4. Checking out more stress management tips at IfiKnew.org: http://www.ifiknew.org/stress-2