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The impossible challenge: staying healthy during exams!

Cheers to every student-mate out there!

As a third year student at the RUG, I can so far very much relate to the ever occurring struggle between being somewhat healthy and studying 24/7. This phenomenon seems to be especially apparent and difficult during the hot phases in exam weeks, within which concentrating on study material generally is of first priority for students. Balancing a healthy lifestyle with the demanding situation of studying and often taking multiple exams in a very short time span is for many students one of the major battles during their time in university. Of course there is no real instruction on how to guide you and me through this, but maybe some general and easy tips can aid you in maintaining both cognitively focused during exams and staying healthy.

First of all, and probably most enjoyable of all, try to get as much sleep as possible. A fresh brain is a working brain! I know oftentimes this can be a quite challenging aspect during exam phase: time is short and the commonly known binge-learning style, in which one crams every fact into ones brain in the 24 hours before an exam, is also very applicable to me. But generally I tend to get headaches from that, the caffeine intake that is required to keep me awake is just immense as well as it is expensive and my mood gets down to the point where I am not able to function or interact as a normal socialized person. So in order to avoid that the ordinary sleeping cycle of 8 hours plus/minus 1 to 2 hours, whatever works for you, should be just as scheduled as any study routine you try to follow. And speaking of a schedule, if that works for you, and in order to be able to schedule enough sleep, make a study plan. But this last tip is just applicable for you if you feel comfortable with it-because if you are similar to me and you don’t work up to your study schedule, you just get frustrated and even pissed and through the whole thing out of the next window.

My next general tip, which for some of you, me included by the way, might be harder to stick to than “sleep as much as possible”, because it is all about getting physically active. Any movement you can get helps to refresh your brain. There is much research done on physical exercise and short term increase in cognitive functioning. And if you are not into getting all sweat up and feel exhausted afterwards, a relaxing walk in the fresh air is just as stimulating and exhilarating as any cardio-pumping work out would be.

Last but not least, and most likely most obvious, is eating fresh and healthy food. And with this, I don’t mean to just eat veggies and fruits all the time but try to balance your food intake. Meat gives you the iron that your body needs to stay awake and feel that way as well. Carbohydrates give you energy as well to be able to stay focused and concentrated. And sugar and fat are just as required by your body as the air you need to breath, and who can’t say that some sweet chocolate is not a nice treat after a certain study stage is achieved? Most important after all though is drink a lot! Water, tea, coffee, whatever saves your body from dehydration and keeps your fluid level high will also greatly profit the working of your brain!

So in summary, there is really nothing new in here you probably haven’t heard before. But sometimes the even easy and just too commonly known tips to keep a healthy life style are overseen during exam phases and need a quick reminder. I wish you all the best with any exam coming up in the future and hope you stay healthy and fit and achieve whatever you guys are wishing for 🙂


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