Now that spring break is in the rear-view mirror, it is easy for students to become disengaged from their responsibilities with visions of summer break. With the utilization of resources that Vanguard provides, how can students successfully complete the spring semester when motivations are low and tensions are high?
Campus Nurse Practitioner Jaime Finch advises students to get good sleep, exercise regularly, eat well, and take care of mental health issues. However, Finch understands that college students seldom have time to get to the seven to nine hours of sleep that are healthy for an adult, explaining how there are other ways to achieve better sleeping habits.
“Students should practice waking up and going to bed at the same times each day,” Finch said. “This encourages the body into implementing a regular sleep schedule.”
Because sleeping can be difficult for some, in order to get a supplemental amount of sleep, Finch encourages ditching coffee and energy drinks in the evening.
“Students will enter a deeper cycle of sleep if they only consume coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drinks in the morning,” Finch said.
Another way students can get a better nights’ rest is by keeping their dorm rooms dark, cool, quiet, and free of reminders of work or other stress triggers. Additionally, she advises avoiding the use of electronic devices 30 minutes before sleep, as well as avoiding long naps late in the afternoon.
Sleep, however, is not the only thing that can aid students survive to the end of the semester.
According to Finch, exercise has been shown to lower stress levels and help with depression. It can also help keep your mind clear on more stress-prone days.
While doctors regularly recommend exercising at least 30 minutes a day for a minimum of five days a week, according to Finch, students may implement shorter times of exercise that fit into their busy schedule like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from your destination to encourage more walking.
When it comes to one sitting down and completing the a large portion of homework, it is healthy for the cognitive process to move around and take small, frequent breaks, Finch explained.
It is advised that students try to get up and move around whenever they can, as well as avoid keeping snacks by their desk while working on a task. This forces students to get up and move around when they need to eat, according to Finch.
Another way Finch suggests for increasing productivity is making sure not to work on homework in bed, rather utilizing Vanguard’s outdoor seating when studying.
Maintaining a healthy diet can also be an important element to making it through the semester.
When eating at the Café, Finch recommends leaning towards the salad bar and other vegetable options. Nourishing the brain with healthy food helps to avoid experiencing sugar crashes and caffeine-induced anxiety.
“Students must be aware of mindless eating,” Finch said. “Keep the bag of chips away from your computer while you’re working and evaluate whether or not you are emotional-eating.”
With the stress of the final weeks of the semester, it is also important to maintain one’s mental health. The Counseling Center, a free resource put into place for students who feel they may need assistance with their mental health, had implemented several resources to support students through final’s season.
One of these is the creation of Emotional Toolbox Training, a group therapy workshop that teaches skills in stress and anxiety management that will be offered next month, lead by counselor Jenna Davis. Additionally, the Keep Your Calm workshop is starting now.
Another resource that is put on the first day of every finals week is the Finals Retreat. According to Davis, with various activities such as comfort dogs, gratitude activities, physical activities, and massages, the event has been created to reflect research showing these activities may help to reduce stress levels.
According to Davis, students can avert negative thinking and procrastinating by, rather than avoiding or minimizing negative thoughts, trying to express their thoughts to friends and family.
“It is often hard to stop negative thoughts ourselves and others encouraging and supportive voices can help,” Davis said.
When it comes to handling stress levels on your own, breathing and mindfulness exercises combat the paralyzing fear that often causes us to procrastinate, according to Davis. Davis says that activities such as prayer, worship, and meditation on the scripture allow God to realign your thoughts and heart to what matters most, letting one rest in the security of his continuous, never ending, abundant care and provision.
While the last few weeks of the semester may be stressful, there are many quick and simple habits students can implement into their lives that may make surviving a bit easier this time around.