With midterms wrapping up, Drexel’s students are getting ready to switch gears and begin preparing for finals week, which will be here before we know it. Although studying is a priority, practicing mindfulness and taking care of ourselves is just as important in order to do well. When we don’t take care of our bodies, we can’t expect our minds to be able to focus while revising 10 weeks-worth of notes for every class we take. Before I experienced my first round of finals week as a freshman, I read up on ways to perform well — not with study tips, but with mindfulness tips. Ever since then, I have made it a point to include these practices in my daily routine because I have seen myself perform and feel good, even when I’m really stressed out. I hope these tips help you practice mindfulness, whether it’s the start or end of the term!
Many students choose to listen to music while studying; however, when the lyrics get in the way of studying, we may find ourselves remembering the words to the latest Beyonce song instead of the functions of organelles. White noise has become increasingly popular and is described to be a collection of random frequencies of sounds. The original intent was to create background noise so that when babies are sleeping and something emits a large sound, it blends into the white noise and the baby doesn’t wake up.
Basically, the background noise protects you from being disturbed or, in a student’s case, distracted by other noises around you. White noise helps students stay focused on the task instead of being distracted by people talking a few tables over in the library or roommates watching TV in the other room. Sometimes, doctors recommend patients diagnosed with ADD or ADHD listen to white noise as a way of tuning out their surroundings and focusing at the task at hand. However, this tool can benefit everyone. White noise tends to be the sound of rain or leaves rustling. Natural noises are common as they are soothing but will help improve concentration instead of making you feel drowsy. Consistently listening to white noise may help create a brain pattern where once you start listening, your brain automatically begins to focus.
What you put into your body is just as important as being able to memorize all the definitions from chapter or practicing your final presentation. There are special foods that help us best when studying and are named “brain food” for that specific reason. While we may be tempted to make microwave ramen or order junk food, eating healthy during finals week is just as important as revising your notes before the exam. When spending long hours at the library, it may be tempting to eat snacks as a meal replacement, especially when it feels like you can’t waste time preparing something to eat. But finals week is the time when you need to take care of your health, and in order to study and perform better, it is essential that you feed yourself properly.
Foods rich in protein and omega 3 help brain development, so consider adding fish into your meals. Eggs also contain a lot of protein as well as vitamin B12. This vitamin is what converts glucose into energy, which can help you work harder, fight off drowsiness and improve overall productivity. Lastly, dark leafy greens are one of the most important foods to include in your diet but tend to be the hardest for some. Vitamin K, found in these vegetables, improves memory and mental focus. It also slows down the process of cognitive decline, which means it will keep your brain working at a high pace and preventing you from losing momentum. Green smoothies are the best way to go, especially as a quick and easy breakfast. You can blend up a mix of berries and spinach, and while the smoothie may be green, all you’ll taste is berry!
We’ve all been told that yoga and meditation are some of the best ways to feel calm and clear our minds from any stress we may feel. However, sometimes attending in-person or structured classes is difficult as a student. If you do have the time, Drexel’s recreation center offers yoga classes in the early morning and evening that I highly recommend.
What I feel is the best part of these practices is that you can do it from the comfort of your room. You can easily close your laptop and notebook for just five minutes and follow a deep breathing exercise from YouTube or do a few quick stretches. I’m prone to neck and back aches after hunching over my laptop for long periods of time, and by adding quick stretches to my routine, I can help improve posture and minimize the strain I put on my upper body. We all know that after hours of studying, there’s a point where no matter how many times we try to push forward, we end up having to reread the same section over and over because we simply can’t concentrate. By practicing mindfulness, we are able to remove ourselves mentally from the situation and come back with a clearer head, which helps us recenter our focus.
I understand that the days leading up to finals week tend to be overwhelming, exhausting and stressful, but by implementing some of these strategies into your routine, I hope you are able to ease some of the tension off your shoulders. I know from experience it is much easier to study when your mind is in the right headspace to hit the books. However, when your mind begins to wander, hopefully these mindfulness skills help you recenter and bring your focus back.