Aside from the first two weeks of school, I don’t know anyone who isn’t busy pretty much all year. Cornell students typically talk about how many prelims they have every week, how little sleep they’ve gotten, and how they don’t have time to do anything they want, so here’s how to be more efficient and savvy when you’re most stressed:
1. Make more food than you usually would earlier in the week so that you have leftovers to eat when you’re too busy to cook. A good example would be soup. If you have a freezer, you can freeze prepared foods and eat them later as well! I’ve found that freezing fresh bananas, kale, and red grapes are particularly useful for snacking purposes.
2. Use a slow cooker. Wake up a bit earlier and get the slow cooker going so that when you’re back, you have a meal ready for you and don’t have to be hungry and stressed out, scrambling for time to make food AND study.
3. Avoid energy drinks and drink water or tea/coffee! Just take a look at the nutritional information on those energy drinks like Monster, 5-Hour Energy, and Red Bull, and you’ll see why. Stick to ice cold water to wake you up, or the occasional tea and coffee to keep you focused. Stay hydrated!
4. Stretch and walk around for every 30 minutes of studying. Meet with a friend or go to the bathroom; I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people next to me at the library who seem to sit there for hours and hours. Personally, I benefit from moving around so that my productivity isn’t declining per minute.
5. Pack snacks for the day. If you’re going to be at school, you’ll need it. Any baked treat, chips, etc. are going to cost more out of your wallet. You usually have to wait in a line. The empty calories won’t help you stay energized. So pack fruits, crackers, dry cereal, pretzels, nuts, and other small snacks to keep you going.
6. Pick a specific time to exercise. Think of it as an appointment between you and your health. Cornell students typically walk on campus a lot, but high intensity exercise and muscle strengthening will also be beneficial to your health. If you pick a time to work out on certain days, you’ll have a greater chance of making time for it. Think about this – one hour of exercise is only 4% of your day. How much time are you currently dedicating to exercise?
7. Eat enough. This seems surprising because we read so much about obesity and how people should eat less. Unfortunately, many college students, as well as society in general, often have a distorted view of what a healthy body weight looks like. According to the Boston Medical Center, 45 million Americans try to lose weight every year, and invest $33 million in weight/diet-related products. If you’re eating well, and exercising, quit worrying about the perfect body and give your body the nutrition it needs. Become comfortable in the skin you’re in, if you’re already at a healthy body weight and body fat percentage; depriving your body of nutrients will only hurt you in the long run.
8. Reward yourself for getting things done so that you’re motivated to be more productive and work harder. If you’ll be on campus all day and have a prelim that night, make plans to do fun things with friends or your significant other so that you can destress before moving onto other tasks.
9. Don’t take things too seriously. Being stressed out can affect your health, performance in school, and interpersonal relationships. Lighten up a bit and use a little bit of stress to pump you up, but don’t let it overtake you to the point where you can’t have fun doing anything.
10. Take naps. I know that with all the work and commitments you have, getting a good night’s sleep is really difficult. If you know you’re staying up late, at least partially compensate for the sleep you lost by taking a short nap. You can wake up refreshed and tackle your responsibilities with more energy.