Staying Healthy During Finals

by Erin O’Dea

Soon upon us is a season so exclusive to law students that friends and family know better than to consider inclusion in their weekend trips or happy hour plans: exam time. As daunting and stressful as it may be, students should consciously improve or maintain their health, the physical and mental benefits of which will help students do better than opting for that late night Chipotle session.

Administrative manager for the Dean’s Office, Claudia Hallas, is a marathon runner, yoga instructor, and offers some wellness advice to aid students during the upcoming finals season.

Claudia Hallas Administrative Manager (via law.uconn.edu)

First of all, Hallas said one problem lies in the above generalization: late nights. Sleep! Getting enough sleep is crucial to helping retain all of the information you spent the whole day studying and leaves you refreshed and ready for the next day. While most students’ mentality and stressors force them to believe that their time is better spent studying than sleeping, remember it is quality over quantity when it comes to study time, and your sleep schedule should not be put on the back burner during finals season. Even when a good night’s rest is not enough to get you through a long study session, Hallas recommends catnaps as a great way to refuel.

Second, make time for yourself. Exercising for an hour a day during finals season can have multiple benefits, ranging from keeping your brain fit to boosting the confidence you need to succeed. Don’t belong to a gym? Multiple gyms in the area offer a week to two-week free trial passes, so you should be out of excuses to not exercise during finals.

“It will help you get grounded fast. It is a much better feeling than going to happy hour.”

Third, if you are overwhelmed with stress, take a study break. The most productive use of your time when you are not studying, exercising, or sleeping is battling those stressors. The best ways to come to terms with and overcome finals stress are practicing yoga and/or meditating. New to both practices? Ask about yoga sessions at the new gym you are trying for free or canvas West Hartford for a yoga studio. Hallas encourages students to take the free Wednesday night yoga class provided by the school, which is taught by her daughter.

For Hallas, “yoga is the tool she needs to let go and not hang onto stuff,” a mentality that would be extremely beneficial to students during finals season.

If you are full of excuses this finals season, choose not to take this guidance, and end up with an ulcer, teenage pimples, and a nice gut grown in time to see your friends and family for the holidays, you will probably refuse to practice yoga. In that case, meditate. UConn Law’s own Professor Calloway published a book with many meditation practices – it is available on reserve in the library. Taking 10 minutes to read about one will make a huge difference in the quality of your day.

Fourth, eat healthily! Fruits and vegetables are your friends. Instead of power housing a huge, fat filled burrito to keep you satiated through an afternoon in the library, pack healthy snacks to keep your brain fit for studying. Also, for every cup of coffee you down, match it by drinking an entire water bottle afterwards.

Hallas would recommend “minimizing caffeine and sugar intake and get an energy burst from something that feeds your soul. The short burst of sugar and caffeine doesn’t take you through the day efficiently.” The benefits of staying healthy and hydrated while studying will help battle your fatigue, motivation, and information retention.

Finally, relax. Staying healthy mentally and physically will be a huge part of your exam success. Respect the opportunity you have to be learning about the law in a higher education system, instead of getting caught up in the competitive nature of the law school environment. Quoting Nelson Mandela, Hallas reminds students, “it always seems impossible until done.”

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