Exam Week Stress Relief

Hello there, healthy people! My name is Gemma, and I’m a self-confessed health nut. I’m also a dietetics major at JMU and recently became ACE-certified as a personal trainer! I’m really excited to be writing for RYH and letting you guys in on what I’ve learned in the past four years.

For my first post ever, I thought I’d acknowledge how we’re all feeling during this time of year. Yes, I’m talking about exam week, and the stress and despair that it tends to produce. Everyone, myself included, has been camping in the library, bleary-eyed as we make our way through exam material or write unnecessarily long papers. Exam time stresses everyone out – I know after hours of studying, my muscles are tense and I’m craving some kind of serious pick-me-up.

It’s really easy to give in to our worst habits when we’re stressed out. But before you do, consider my favorite relaxation technique and healthy snack below :]

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

You can do this exercise sitting or lying down, and you don’t have to do the entire sequence either if you’re short on time. Take two deep, slow breaths and close your eyes. Breathe in for 5 seconds, and release slowly. Throughout the exercise, keep your breathing deep, even and slow.

Clench your left fist first until you can’t tighten anymore. Then let go, and notice how relaxing your fist and arm feel. Repeat each area of your body twice for all-over relaxation.

  • Right fist
  • Both fists together
  • Left bicep
  • Right bicep
  • Scalp (pull ears back)
  • Frown to tense forehead
  • Shut eyes tightly
  • Clench jaw
  • Purse lips tightly
  • Head forward as far as it will go
  • Head back (gently)
  • Shrug shoulders
  • Tighten stomach
  • Arch back (gently)
  • Tense thighs
  • Curl toes downward to tighten calf muscles
  • Curl toes up to tense shins

[Adapted from: http://www.relaxationemporium.com/relaxationtechniquespart2.html%5D

A quick snack

Chop up half a green apple, slice 2-3 strawberries, add 1 tbsp of blue cheese/feta cheese/whatever your heart desires, and a handful of walnuts. Drizzle the mixture with honey.

The walnuts and cheese will provide you with some protein and fat to keep you full and awake. For those of us who crave something sweet when our brains are working hard, the fruit and honey will make studying a little more enjoyable!

Good luck on exams, everyone!

Gemma (James Madison University)

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