In the middle of studying and stressing, it's easy to forget to take care of the most important thing: ourselves! Staying healthy -- both physically and mentally -- is a very big part of dealing with all kinds of stress, including test stress. Here are some important tips:
Get enough sleep. Being tired can make your stress levels go up, and a good night's sleep is one of nature's most awesome stress-beaters.
- Make sure you go to bed on time and try to get at least eight hours (or more) of sleep at night.
- Follow this rule even when studying for a big test. Staying up to study until the late hours isn't usually a good idea, because your brain gets fuzzy when you're tired-and you probably won't remember what you're studying anyway.
Eat right. Keep a balanced, nutritious diet. Your brain does its best work when it gets turbo fuel from good food.
Get plenty of exercise. It's super-important to keep your body in shape, because being in good health is one of the best ways to combat stress.
- Eat plenty of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They can help you think clearer, study better, and perform better on any kind of test.
- Avoid junk foods made with chemicals and who-knows-what. They're not good for your body or your brain, and might make it harder to manage stress.
- For more about nutrition, check out IML's advice on Food Smarts.
- Do some jumping jacks. Go for a walk. Hop on your bike. Or just turn up the music in your room and DANCE.
- If your body feels good and is working the best it can, all those natural stress-fighting responses will be able to do their jobs.
- Being healthy will also help you stay in a bright mood, think positively, and feel confident.
- When it comes time to knuckle down and study hard, a healthy body will have lots of lasting power to do it.
Have some fun. Feel like your life is all work and no play? You're not alone. Although school and studying are important, we can't survive without some good old fashioned F-U-N.
- If you study ALL the time, you're going to burn out-and your stress levels will go way up.
- Make time to do whatever relaxes you, whether it's tossing a Frisbee around with a friend, watching a movie, or playing with your dog.
- If you're happy and relaxed, your mind will be ready to hit the books and prepare for the test.
- You can use play time as a reward for getting studying done, and will help your mind recharge after hard work.
Be aware of your emotions. If other things are bothering you, like difficulties at home or troubles with your friends, a big test might seem much worse than it really is.
- You might feel like you've got too much to deal with already-and now the added stress of a test can seem too much to handle.
- This is why it's very important to be aware of your feelings, and to get some help when you need it.
- Talk to your parent, a teacher, or a counselor, and try to work through it all BEFORE it starts to seem unbearable.
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