Oh how we grumble, complain, worry and stress about midterm season. At a certain point in the semester, it feels like the onslaught of exams will never end. The abundance of stress caused by midterms can make the importance of your health can slip your mind.
Midterms also come at a time of year when many people catch a case of the cold or flu. This mix of stress and sickness is a disastrous combination, which can lead to extensive periods of illness (A.K.A. being stuck in bed when it feels like your only priority in life is passing Organic Chemistry). It is important to remember that taking care of yourself should be somewhere on your to-do list.
This cannot be repeated enough: getting ample amounts of sleep is essential to functioning at your best. Sometimes, you may find yourself needing to stay up to cram for an exam next morning (I know, I’ve been there). At some point, however, your body and brain need rest. Also, contrary to what you may believe, caffeine does not replace sleep. With low amounts of sleep, you cannot perform your best, no matter the amount of coffee you’ve consumed. Staying up until dawn studying is counterproductive. It weakens your immune system and makes you susceptible to sickness. In other words: close your books and catch those precious Zzzs.
It is also important to eat right (or…decently at least). Sometimes you just grab whatever you is quickest in-between classes, mindlessly eating whatever’s convenient. Other times, you may forget to eat altogether. Even when you are bogged down with endless amounts of work, be sure to make healthy choices about what your body’s fuel. Disease also creeps up when you fill your body with junk. Add lots of fruits and veggies to your diet or boost your immune system with a multivitamin.
Of course, the best preventative measure to keep from getting sick is making sure you are up-to-date on vaccines and flu shots. Many students on-campus are not vaccinated for Meningitis B, which starts out with flu-like symptoms and thrives in condensed, stressful environments like…I don’t know, midterm season in the dorms? Annual flu shots will also keep you from contracting disease and illness. Many campus locations offer free vaccines that are easily-accessible to students. The CDC recommends that everyone six months or older get the flu vaccine annually. Being a college student, other people’s cocktails of germs constantly surround you. Getting a flu vaccine is crucial to keep yourself healthy in a college-environment.
Beyond physical health, keeping your mental health in check during midterms is also crucial. Never prioritize grades over overall well-being. Being overwhelmed and stressed is normal to a point, but when it all starts to be too much, give yourself a break. Take a deep breath and reflect on how important this one stressful exam really is in the grand scheme of things. There will be more opportunities to improve your grade: ask for extra credit or, if the situation gets too out-of-hand, you can always retake a class. Neglecting your emotional well-being is not worth it during these stressful times.
Although everyone knows these standard pieces of advice, sometimes you need an occasional reminder. Your body works around the clock to keep you as healthy as possible, and treating your body and mind right will benefit your academics so much more than any late night cramming session ever could. Getting enough sleep, consuming a proper diet, getting a flu shot and taking care of your mental health can help you feel and perform your best.