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UHS offers tips to minimize stress, maximize productivity

May 7, 2012

While a relief for many students after 15 long weeks, the end of the semester also brings with it a flurry of exams, papers, presentations, and project deadlines.

With so much on the average student’s mind, it’s easy to let good habits go by the wayside once finals arrive. University Health Services (UHS) offers these end-of-semester tips:

Don’t neglect exercise

When it’s time to hit the books, it can suddenly feel very hard to fit in that regular trip to the gym. If you don’t have time for a full-fledged workout, try short breaks in between study sessions. A brief but brisk walk in fresh air between study sessions will produce calming endorphins and keep you focused on the tasks at hand.

Eat well for strength of mind and body

We know that good food is essential for an active body. But the brain is also a highly demanding organ, using up about 20 percent of the body’s average energy intake. You can keep up with your brain’s demands for energy with whole grains, fruit, veggies and lean proteins. For example, a toasted bagel with peanut butter and banana slices, and a glass of milk, is a great way to prep for a day of studying or exam writing.

Some sleep is better than no sleep

During finals, “all-nighter” becomes a regular addition to many students’ vocabularies. Eight hours of sleep may not be realistic with so much to do, but four to six hours – or even a strategically-scheduled nap – does wonders for the tired brain.

Find time to relax and breathe

 “Having a balance between tranquility and alertness is the perfect antidote to stress,” says Rob Sepich, UHS stress management specialist. “In tranquility, we are calm without being lethargic, and in alertness, we are aware without being hyper-vigilant.”

Sepich suggests trying this simple exercise:

  1. With your eyes open or closed, simply take a slow and deep breath;
  2. Next, take a second breath while imagining the word “tranquil;”
  3. Finally, take a third breath while imagining the word “alert.”
  4. You can find more brief relaxation exercises here.

    To schedule a free, one-on-one session with a counselor, students should call the main UHS number at 608-265-5600. Call the same number or make an online appointment through MyUHS for a 50-minute massage for $40.

More UHS stress tips are available here.