Healthy habits help decrease stress levels


Clare Budin

Vending machines stocked with energy drinks, sugary sodas and convenient snacks at the Illini Union. While students are busy with finals, it is important to maintain healthy habits, including a nutritious diet and exercise.

By Clare Budin, Staff Writer

by Clare Budin

staff writer

With finals coming up and stress levels rising, students may be tempted to consume energy drinks, make fast-food stops before studying and pull all-nighters with the help of plenty of coffee.

It’s understandable that some may choose to snack during stressful times. Luckily, Kenneth Wilund, professor in AHS, has a way to offset these occasional indulgences.

“Just make sure to assure yourself that you’re going to start out eating something good first,” Wilund said. “It helps with the cravings and gets you a little full, so you’re less likely to gorge and feel worse.”

Arjun Thakkar, freshman in LAS, found an effective strategy to prevent overindulging is to avoid studying in places with easy-to-grab snacks.

“I try to keep as little food in my dorm as possible, so I won’t snack on it,” Thakkar said. “That way, I only eat when going to the dining hall.”

Amy Park, freshman in LAS, said avoiding snacks and maintaining a solid support system of friends to encourage a healthy lifestyle will help many students get through finals.

“Just get motivated to get out of bed and find healthier food, more fruits and vegetables,” Park said. “If you have friends going out with you for dinner and supporting that, I think it helps.”

Wilund also suggested regular exercise as a way to help students stay energized and manage stress.

“Exercise makes you recognize that the world’s not going to end,” Wilund said. “You’ve got a stress relief, and there’s almost a meditative element to it where you can push everything else out for half an hour.”

While some students may insist their schedules leave no time for exercise, everyone can set aside at least 30 minutes a day to stay fit and focus on something other than studies, Wilund said.

“The No. 1 thing for exercise is simply setting aside time and calendaring it, because you’re usually just not going to do it if you don’t make that a priority,” Wilund said.

Another common sight during finals is students with a cup of coffee in one hand on the way to class or a study session.

While treasured by many students as a lifesaver for long study hours, Wilund said the extreme energy spikes and drops that come with sugar and caffeine can leave these same students at an eventual disadvantage.

“The most important thing is avoiding the sugar high and lows and the caffeine high and lows that will wipe you out and affect your sleep patterns,” Wilund said. “Simple things like switching to tea instead of coffee will keep you on an even keel without crazy highs and lows.”

Another difficulty for many students is sleep or, more specifically, how to find a schedule that provides enough sleep at consistent times.

“Having a good sleep schedule helps a lot,” Thakkar said. “I know students who go to sleep at 11 or midnight every day and wake up for class well-rested. My sleep schedule varies a lot, which can make things hard.”

Wilund said too many all-nighters or an inconsistent schedule can easily cause sleep deprivation, one of the worst predicaments for students preparing for long testing hours.

“Sleep deprivation is awful for memory,” Wilund said. “You’re just not thinking clearly when you’re sleep deprived.”

Wilund also suggested a simple, short-term option for those looking for a pre-exam energy boost.

“Don’t sleep on the power nap,” Wilund said. “It’s something a lot of people have success with before you go into an exam.”

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