Exams are lurking around the corner, and so is the excessive stress that comes with them. Here’s the thing about stress – it doesn’t just feel awful, it also impacts your brain and your memory. Excess cortisol, which is released in times of stress, damages your brain cells. And not just any brain cells; this stuff has a special affinity for the hippocampus, which is responsible for your memory. Because we care about you, and because we believe everyone deserves an intact hippocampus, we’ve found some simple ways for you to reduce stress!
1. Start early
Time management is crucial when it comes to studying, memory retention and stress levels. Give yourself plenty of time to learn and understand the material. Now when you come across a trickier concept or need to ask for help, you won’t be strapped for time. Trust us, you’ll feel more in control and less burnt out!
Want an easy, fast and cheap way to de-stress? Exercise.
Aerobic exercise makes your brain pump out feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin, while simultaneously purging your brain of cortisol. It’s also been linked to increasing your focus, allowing you to steer clear of stress and focus on what it’s important.
3. Take Breaks
There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from time-to-time. Stepping away from the books lets you hit restart, so you’ll be refreshed and ready to focus.
4. Play with Puppies
Therapy dogs are cute, cuddly and just want your love and affection. They’re also the perfect excuse to take a break and de-stress. SAMU will be offering Paws for a Study break twice during StressLess this semester! You can come pet the puppies and then get back to your studies on March 29th and 30th.
5. Your Bed is a Sanctuary, Not a Desk
The only thing you should be doing when you crawl into bed at night is getting some well deserved beauty sleep. Give yourself time to unwind before bed and try to get between 7 – 8 hour. Avoid pulling all-nighters, which can have adverse effects on your memory, stress levels and ability to concentrate.
6. Shout about it
Or talk it out. Either way, talking through your stress and problems is a great way to see the bigger picture and release some pressure. You’ll also quickly realize that you are absolutely not alone, and a lot of your friends and classmates are feeling the same way.
7. Participate in stress relieving activities
We’ve all been there – you’re studying for finals and the only thing that seems important is memorizing flash cards. You get tunnel vision and the outside world no longer exists. Except that it does. And you should go back to it on occasion. Indulging in non-exam related activities will relieve your stress, so when you go back to your flash cards you’ll be ready to go! Try doing yoga, grabbing coffee with a friend, going for a walk, or checking out StressLess (we have massages, fyi).
8. Remember…there is life after exams.
This is certainly easier said than done. But remember, while we always want to see you succeed, one bad grade doesn’t define you.