Exercise and Academia (Image 1)

MULTI-TASK. A Western student reviews her notes while making a smoothie.

April has arrived, bringing with it the promise of warmer weather and the ever growing distraction of Netflix. It’s a season in which a few cold drinks on the patio of Barney’s seem much more enticing than studying for biology — but the show must go on. Exam season is just around the corner, and that means we have a tendency to forget about how we look, what we eat and how to take time for ourselves. Here’s a list of Gazette-approved tips and tricks for balancing fashion, beauty, wellness and the exam season grind. 

Brain food

As the last few weeks of school come to an end, our healthy habits typically follow suit. The stress of exams and final assignments often leads to excessive snacking and binge-eating junk food. Junk food triggers the same physiological reaction as drugs — it gives the brain a sense of temporary relief. That's why reaching for a Big Mac and fries is much more tempting than choosing a more nutritious option like fruits or vegetables.

For a quick fix, rather than hitting the drive-thru window, apples and peanut butter or hummus and crackers are great options. For when the sweet tooth strikes, dark chocolate also has been proven to greatly improve cognitive function due to its flavonoid count, which in it which boost blood flow to the brain and dark chocolate also has much less sugar compared to other snack-able choices like candy or ice cream.

In addition, caffeine has become a crutch for students during the all-nighters and early mornings of exam season. Rather than reaching for another double double, matcha is a great option for that boost of energy as it enhances mood and improves concentration due to it's high levels of antioxidants and L-theanine, an amino acid that helps you feel relaxed but energized at the same time. Having healthy snacks on hand while studying will boost brain function, focus and memory.

Comfy couture

Sweatpants and hoodies have become the hottest look of exam season fashion week 2018. As the start of exams hits, campus becomes a competition of whose sweats are the nicest and whose hair looks somewhat brushed in the morning. After long nights of studying, dressing comfortably seems like the most sensible option; however, dressing the part can actually do wonders for your mental state. Studies show that dressing in more formal clothes tends to make you think more abstractly, holistically and creatively.

Throwing on a pair of cool shades can hide those tired eyes while instantly accessorizing your outfit — the Ray-Ban round metal sunglasses are a fan fave this season. Joggers are a great option to avoid the baggy sweats look while staying away from wearing jeans during the study grind — the Lululemon “Get Going Joggers” paired with a basic t-shirt or crew neck are a great choice for looking good on the streets but feeling good in the library. To top off the look, a pair of sneakers will lend you comfort all day long — the Nike Air Max Thea provides understated style and cushioned support all day long. There’s no rule that looking good and being comfortable can’t go hand in hand!

Bare beauty 

On a typical day of classes, waking up an hour early to primp and pamper yourself doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, but when precious hours of sleep are limited, looking your best doesn’t come as a top priority. In order to maximize sleep and study hours, a fresh face and bright complexion is the best way to go. You can be out the door in 10 minutes and avoid feeling weighed down by makeup during long days of studying if you do the following: 

  • Whether at night or in the morning, face masks are a great option to kick back, to relax and replenish tired-looking skin and to get that glow you’ve always dreamed of. From algae to Argentinian clay, Sephora offers affordable sheet mask and mud mask options for all skin types.
  • Using a gentle exfoliator like the St. Ives Radiant Skin Scrub in the morning will give a citrusy burst of energy while scrubbing away dry skin from all those sleepless nights.
  • A good moisturizer will be your best friend when the going gets tough. Clinique’s 72-hour Moisture Surge will give you continuous hydration from morning to night, keeping you looking refreshed all day long.
  • Last but not least, when the bags under your eyes are too dark to ignore, an under-eye brightener, like the bareMinerals's Well-Rested Face and Eye Brightener will fool people into thinking you got those 12 hours of sleep you wish you had. The formula uses light-reflecting minerals to hide dull complexions and will be your saving grace when trying to look good with limited time.

Press pause

While the ever-growing list of assignments to hand in and of study notes to complete takes precedence over any sense of well-being these days, giving your brain a break while studying has many benefits, including improved focus and a lengthened attention span. 

Taking a few minutes approximately every hour to listen to music or to go outside for a walk can instantly reduce stress levels and can allow you to get back into studying with a clear mind. The importance of daily physical activity is even more crucial during exam season as it also provides a way of increasing mental alertness, energy and positivity. Taking an hour every day to exercise — even if it means going to yoga class to de-stress — will have a large impact on academic performance when exam day arrives. 

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