Exam time can be very stressful for young students Picture: Pixabay
Stress levels can be higher than usual around exam time, having to revise a lot of information in a short space of time. While a bit of stress can help you to stay motivated and focused, too much can be overwhelming and exhausting, even opening you to infections.
Instead of dwelling on these, it is best to be proactive in supporting your stress response and reduce stress hormones naturally through simple diet and lifestyle changes.
1: Keep a routine – this goes for both your study and break times as well as regular meals. Make up a timetable including regular breaks every hour to move your body, get some fresh air to help to settle the learned material. Movement and stretching exercises boost circulation to the brain, helping your memory.
Regular meals every 3-4 hours help to keep up your energy and focus.
2: Keep stress hormones in check – limit caffeine intake and have wholesome meals and snacks. Too much caffeine and refined foods can cause blood sugar imbalances, spiking stress hormone levels and interfere with restorative sleep where you actually cement the learnt material into your memory. Aim to have protein and good fats in every meal and snack to balance your blood sugar levels, which in turn reduce your stress hormones and support better sleep. These include meats, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, olives, and olive oil.
3: Get energy and memory nutrients – during stress you have higher requirements of all nutrients, especially B vitamins and magnesium. These contribute to both energy production and the health of your nervous system and they are not found, but depleted by a refined, processed diet. Magnesium and Vitamin B6 are especially beneficial to support your nervous system and help you relax. Essential fats, especially from oily fish, help your brain create memory easier.
4: Mind your gut flora – stress depletes beneficial bacteria that live in your gut, which may increase anxiety and digestive problems. There is a strong connection between the gut microbiome – the microscopic creatures that live in the digestive tract, and the brain. There are 6 types of live bacteria that have been identified as “anxiolytic” – helping to reduce anxiety and promote the production of your “happy and zen hormones” serotonin and GABA. Take a diverse live bacteria supplement that contains all these species and make sure to feed them with a wide variety of colourful vegetables and fruits.
5: Support your immune system – during stressful times, your immune system is under enormous pressure and your Vitamin C requirements greatly increase. Find a natural supplement that contains food-sourced vitamin C such as rosehips, and immune supporting antioxidants from dark berries.
6: Find time for relaxation techniques – it is especially important whenever you feel overwhelmed. Box-breathing, prayer, meditation first in the morning, throughout the day and last thing at night help you to cope better and sleep better – giving a more positive start of the day to feel ready for any challenge.
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