For most Orange Coast College students, this semester seems to be filled to the brim with stressful days and lonely, long nights. It feels unreal to be studying for finals in the midst of the pandemic, but the time of year has come.
Don’t wait for the new year to change your habits. With finals week finally here, there is no better time than now to self-reflect and get your life together.
Procrastination happens frequently among college students and in a time like this, students may be extra stressed, which leads to more procrastination. It's an endless cycle, so instead of waiting to study or do those assignments, set out 30 minutes to an hour of your day to be productive.
Don’t get mad at yourself for doing other things with your day. Exercise is a great way to release endorphins and relieve stress. That may be hard, considering the current pandemic, but any sort of exercise can truly change your mood – walking your pet, going for a run or even a hike.
The workout doesn’t have to be strenuous, just something to take your mind away for a little. In an article published by the National Library of Medicine, author Erica Jackson states that being physically active improves the way the body can handle stress and affects neurotransmitters in the brain like dopamine and serotonin that affect your mood and behaviors.
Hydrating is a huge factor in stress management, and has been proven to have natural calming properties, even when you're not stressed.
“When somebody gets slightly dehydrated, it does impede brain function,” said Elizabeth Blake, OCC nutrition instructor. “Dehydration – sometimes when it gets more extreme – can cause confusion or dementia, and so it really ties into brain function.”
Blake’s most important piece of advice is to take breaks in between studying to get something to eat. She said that eating food is a big factor in brain function. When studying for finals, going long periods of time without eating is common.
”You can do that, your body can physically do that, but what happens is when you emerge from that marathon session, the first thing your body is going to want is carbohydrates so your body is going to grab those junk foods-high sugar high carbs, so don’t let yourself go a super long time without eating,” Blake said.
Don’t get mad at yourself for doing something other than studying. Take breaks when you are feeling really stressed. Yoga is a great way to burn calories as well as find peace of mind. An article about yoga and stress published in the West Indian Medicine Journal states that if your mind is relaxed, your muscles will be too. Stress forms a state of physical and mental tension. Yoga is recognized as a form of mind-body medicine that was developed thousands of years ago.
Ashley McKeachie, certified yoga therapist and yoga instructor at OCC said that humans primarily function with their sympathetic nervous system, leading to feelings of tension and being overwhelmed.
“That stress builds up in our bodies, in our breath, in our minds, our emotions, and it affects our relationships,” McKeachie said. “What yoga does, is it actually helps you balance the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system so that you feel calm, relaxed, clear, confident, and really add ease to what is and also what is not.”
OCC offers yoga classes as well as yoga teacher training to those looking to be instructors or those just wanting to learn more beyond the postures.
There are ways to procrastinate effectively. If you decide to procrastinate on an assignment, instead of looking at social media, take that time to study for a test or do another task that has been burning your mind. It is still productive, just in a different way. Multitasking is an art form that many can learn, and if this method works for you, it can be a really interesting way to get your assignments done. But this is not the most effective form of productivity.
Reward yourself when you accomplish tasks, because at the end of the day, it's about the little things in life and your health matters more than a grade in class.