The importance of a healthy diet & exercise during exams –
Exams are stressful. Stressful for the learners in your household but parents feel the pressure of exams too. Following a healthy diet and making time for exercise will make exam time less stressful and will lead to less anxiety in the house.
Here are 4 tips for a healthy lifestyle during exams:
1. Eat well
Food fuels the body AND the mind. Not eating well i.e. regular balanced meals can lead to low energy and irritability. The last thing you need is for you and your teenager to snap at each other because one/both of you are cranky.
✔ Meals are eaten at set times/within regular intervals.
✔ Start with a healthy breakfast.
✔ Meals should be nourishing but not too heavy.
✔ Keep ‘smart snacks’ (think bananas, blueberries, peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, raisins and biltong) in the cupboard; avoid anything too sugary or sweet and fast food.
✔ Do not skip meals.
✔ If you are the cook in the family, cook double or triple portions that will save you time and effort on another day or for the next meal.
✔ Avoid energy drinks and too many cups of coffee.
2. Drink enough water
If your body doesn’t get enough water you will become listless and you will struggle to concentrate.
Someone who is thirsty is also likely to be irritable. As already mentioned, crankiness is the last thing your household needs during exam-time.
Try to drink 1-1.5 litres of water a day. Keep a glass or jar of water on your desk or wherever you spend most of your time when at home.
If you become gatvol of sipping water, substitute a glass of water with coconut water, fruity or green tea, drinking yoghurt or buttermilk.
3. Hop, skip & jump
Everyone knows that regular exercise has more benefits than you can count. What you might not know is that exercise releases various hormones and chemical compounds in your body and what is released has important effects on different brain functions.
Dopamine positively influences attention span, serotonin keeps you positive and helps you sleep well (also see tip 4) and nor-epinephrine helps with mental stimulation.
Exercising also relieves stress and helps you to relax.
Remind yourself that any work or study day needs to be balanced; adding exercise to your day ensures that balance.
4. Zzz is for sleep
It is vital that you get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep leads to irritability (that word again!) and grumpiness, a decline in creativity, innovation and productivity, susceptibility to stress and a lack of focus and concentration.
It is said that adequate sleep helps one to think faster and remember information better. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is recommended.