It is time to think about preparing for finals physically and mentally. Part of being successful is not letting stress and emotions take over. I find that a healthy diet and regular exercise are helpful. I invited all of you to join the 30-day fitness challenge that started 15 days ago. If you haven’t started it’s ok, it is never too late to start. Start now and give yourself a few days to prepare physically and mentally. Please use my health page.
Feel free to post workouts, recipes etc. You do not need to follow a strict diet just sit down and think about what works for you and actually do it for the next few days. We are in this together people so let’s motivate one another and succeed together.
Thank you Maria Elena!
Finals are a challenging time for all of us and preparing for them academically, emotionally, and physically is key. Some of us crave foods when we are studying for feel stressed about midterms. Giving into the stress and the cravings can lead to unwanted weight gain and a loss of energy because unhealthy foods won’t give your body the energy it needs. Why do you get cravings? The urges to eat are fueled by feel-good brain chemicals that are released when you eat those types of food. What you need to do is make a plan that stops and prevents those cravings and the unwanted weight gain that comes along with it. Here are a few tips to help combat what I call the “finals effect.”
What to do:
1. Create an upbeat playlist to listen to whenever a food craving strikes. The songs provide a distraction and an emotional release.
2. Wait it out. Cynthia Bulik, author of Runaway Eating says that “food cravings behave like waves: they build, crest, and then disappear.” If you can surf the urge you have a better chance of beating it altogether.
3. Choose the best distraction. Identify your current emotion- anxious, mad, or bored by filling in these blanks: “I feel __ because of __.” Then find an activity that releases it.
4. Work out. Take a 30-40 minute brake and distract your mind to forget about the cravings that fill your mind.
What to eat:
- Fill up your stomach with a large glass of water and 1 or 2 tablespoons of bran. According to an article written by Julie Daniluk, doing this will stop the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin for approximately an hour. Bran absorbs water and moisture in the stomach. It physically expands in the stomach and makes you feel full so you will eat less.
- Drink Green tea. This tea increases the hormone CCK (cholecystokinin), which is responsible for creating the feeling of satisfaction.
- Eat pine nuts. The omega-6 found in pine nuts has shown to release satiety hormones, which promote weight loss and reduce food intake. Pine nuts also stimulate CCK, which is the hormone that works as a hunger suppressant. The effect will last approximately 30 minutes.
- Drink Peppermint Tea. Peppermint is a natural hunger suppressant.
- Grab some gum. Chewing gum has been shown to help reduce cravings.
- From experience, I suggest eating cucumbers. Munching on cucumbers makes you feel full. It’s a guilt free snack because its calorie content is very low and since you are eating you will feel like your mind is being distracted and your stomach satisfied. In addition, it is an inexpensive solution!
Maria Elena Parada
Law school is a big juggling act where you must learn to balance your professional and your personal life. A crucial part of finding that balance is being healthy. My goal is to create a support system to motivate each other to be healthy, well balanced students. In an effort to accomplish this, I started a Facebook page called Nena Central. On this page you will find health advice, food recipes, workout exercises, and motivational phrases to keep you on the right track. Your input to create this support system is crucial, so please feel free to write about questions you have, suggestions or ideas. This month the topic I will address is simple ways to help reduce stress.
As you prepare for your final exams, it is important to keep in mind that chronic stress levels put you at a higher risk of health problems such as: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, weight gain, memory and concentration impairment, and sleep problems. Learning to reduce stress and clear your mind will help you feel in control. Here are some tips to help you reduce stress the rest of the year.
Be more productive to reduce stress! The more work you get done the less stress you will feel later.
- Carry an agenda with you, it helps you remember your “things to do” and helps you prioritize them.
- Give each task a set period of time without distractions and finish them.
- Being focused is vital; if you are working on something forget about everything else. Keep in mind that 20 minutes spent doing something completely focused is worth more than an hour distracted.
- Make the best out of “dead time”.
- Learn to delegate.
- Learn to be flexible, if you can’t do something you planned, move on to the next task.
- Avoid working extra hours continuously because working continuously doesn’t mean you will complete the work efficiently.
Drinks to help reduce stress:
- Hot or warm milk: The amino acid tryptophan in milk is what helps you relax. You can add a little honey for a sweet antioxidant.
- Herbal tea: Teas of catnip, lemon balm, skullcap, passionflower, hops, and or valerian help relax.
- Green tea: This tea contains theanine, a calming agent. Make sure you choose decaffeinated tea, so the theanine predominates.
Whatever you do, don’t turn to alcohol for shut-eye. Drinking too close to bedtime might help you doze off, but studies have found it is likely to interfere with your sleep cycle and keep you from getting the rest you need.
Exercise to reduce stress:
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that fight stress. Keep in mind that a good workout can help you get your mind off your problems and clear your head.
- High energy activities like running, dancing, spinning, and kickboxing increase your heart rate and make your body release endorphins that will help you feel better physically and mentally
- Yoga: This is a stress- relief exercise that involves deep breathing combined with moving and stationary poses. For stress relief, it is recommended that you do gentle yoga or yoga for beginners.
- Tai Chi: involves self-paced, flowing body movements and breathing techniques that help you release stress.
- Martial Arts: This is an effective way to release energy, frustration, and tension. You can choose from Karate, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and Krav Maga among others. I would highly recommend this because you can learn self-defense techniques while releasing stress at the same time.
- Outdoor activities: Hiking and biking trails are pleasant places to spend time and clear your mind because the change in scenery helps you relax and clear your mind.
Maria Elena Parada