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Keep yourself mentally and physically healthy during midterms

By Maggie Rugolo
On February 28, 2017

It is midterm week, a week of hell for many students, during which the once manageable idea of five classes becomes an impossible task of five exams. For those who are lucky, those tests are spread out throughout the course of the past few weeks, or diversified through papers and projects. But for the many unlucky, they are clumped. 

Faced with the task of studying can make us forget the other important part of our lives, such as friends, cleaning rooms and sometimes ourselves and our health. During midterm week, it’s normal to walk by a group of people all clad in oversized sweatshirts and messy hair and hear them contemplating the last time they were able to shower or do laundry. 

Your friends and even your roommates become strangers during this time. Unless you are studying together, they are hidden behind a pile of books in their designated study spots, focused on their own endeavors and unable to chat idly about their days or their weeks ahead without being reminded that they should be studying.

Sleep can become somewhat of a sad joke. The library is packed well past closing and filled again at the break of dawn. We become scrappy with our sleep, picking up an extra twenty minute power nap here and there. Until eventually our bodies break down. 

Of course this is not the case for everyone. However, this unhealthy lifestyle that accompanies midterm and final weeks is present on campus. Is this actually helping or hurting us? How well can people really concentrate when they are unfed, unwashed and overtired?

What if during midterm week, students made themselves take a break? What if they were honest with themselves about their level of concentration during those ten hour marathons of studying in the library? Would their level of concentration improve? How would they perform on the test in comparison to the individual who pulled an all-nighter?

Breaks should be necessary parts of midterm and final week. All of the habits listed above that are associated with this time can actually be detrimental to our mental capacity to contain information. Instead of working until you crash you could take a few small breaks throughout the day, for your sanity. 

Start off the day with breakfast. Sit and breathe and mentally prepare yourself for the work you are going to do. Breakfast will give you the extra energy to be more productive while working. The time you spent actually waking up will prevent you from spending the next few hours falling asleep as you try to read a text book. 

While studying, be honest with yourself. If you realize that during the past hour, forty-five minutes of it was spent on Instagram or sending snapchats of scull emoji’s and “hour 10” at the library to your best friend, maybe the time you are spending could be better spent. When we find ourselves focused more on our phones than the words in front of us, take a walk. Go outside and breathe in the surprisingly warm February air. It will wake you up and let you restart your studying process.

I know phones have become part of our bodies. Like an extra hand. Or an extra brain. But they are also a distraction. Instead of having it propped up on the table next to your notes, try turning it off, or at least putting it on airplane mode. Whatever life-changing conversation you were having with your friends can probably wait until after you’re done studying. Plus, by texting your friends who are supposed to be studying, you are helping to distract them just as much as your phone is distracting you.

Towards the end of the day, be honest about reaching the point that you are so tired you are not retaining any of the information you are so desperately trying to cram in your head. When this happens, instead of downing another red bull or coffee, go to sleep. The brain needs sleep. Your body needs sleep. All-nighters have become somewhat of a rite of passage for college students, but do they actually help?

I know that when I am over tired, it’s hard to remember my name, much less a complicated formula. All-nighters are a cool thing to say you did, but they can actually hurt your performance on the test. They cause you to be groggy and make it hard to remember the information you spent so much time studying. 

So during this midterm week, take care of yourself. Because taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your grades. 

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