Preparing for War

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hello, friends!
My little army of RedBulls! They are going to war for me right now, seriously. I'm running on about 3 hours of sleep per night because the bar exam is less than a week away.

Although "crunchtime" is all about staying up until ungodly hours just to wake up minutes later and hit the books again, it's essential to maintain good health during this time. Does it matter how much you studied if you're sick come exam day?

Well, here are some quick tips on how to stay healthy when you're living that zombie life for a few weeks:

Take Vitamin C daily. Vitamin C protects your immune system, especially when you're under a lot of stress. If you'd rather not take a supplement, oranges, guavas, kiwis and grapefruits are good sources of Vitamin C, so grab a few of those for a healthy snack while you study. (Side note: Now that I mention food, have an egg or cereal for breakfast, especially the day of the exam, as studies show they boost concentration and memory. For more about this and other "brain food", click here!)

Stay hydrated. And no, I don't mean on a RedBull drip (although, I'm deathly close to that right about now). I keep a huge bottle of water nearby while I study. Your body is made up mostly of water (about 60%), so if you're going to stay up for days at a time, be sure to replenish it. Your brain works better when you're hydrated. Plus, cold water has a tendency to satiate hunger and prevent "study munchies", basically stop you from demolishing that bag of Tostitos in your pantry.

Take breaks. I know how tempting it can be to just plow through, but breaks can help you digest the material better. So take a moment to stretch your legs, change your scenery, exercise, listen to a bit of music, go on a coffee run or talk on the phone - anything to reboot. Even computers need to restart sometimes!

Ease into a normal sleeping schedule as the exam date approaches. Although many have warned me against it, all-nighters have been a necessary evil for me at times throughout my academic career. But you also want to be able to get a full night's rest the night before the exam, without feeling groggy in the morning. Your brain is much more astute when it's rested and much less prone to making careless mistakes. I find that the easiest way to do this is to start getting adequate sleep a few nights before. So, cut those all-nighters out 2-3 days before the exam! Also, a related piece of advice: on the days leading up to the exam, try to wake up and start studying around the same time that the exam will be. Your brain won't be accustomed to functioning at it's best at 8am if you've been on an afternoon/late night study schedule.

*Bonus tip! If your exam has a break in-between, be sure not to eat anything too heavy - it will make you sleepy for the rest of the exam! :)


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