Full Body Test Preparation

This week’s featured photo is of Blairsville, Georgia. Blairsville is a nature lover’s paradise as it located in the “Chattahoochee National Forest and North Georgia Blue Ridge mountains” (https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/georgia/articles/the-10-most-beautiful-towns-in-georgia/). As someone who loves being outdoors, I am looking forward to visiting this beautiful town that is as steeped in culture and history as it is in natural beauty. 

Full Body Test Prep Overview

Everyone knows that in order to prepare for a test you study, but not everyone is aware that in order to perform your best you need to take care of your ENTIRE body. It makes sense, think about an injury to a part of your body that you use every day, like your leg. If you broke your leg, it would be much harder for you to do the daily tasks you need to do every day to function, like shower, cook, or drive. This would also probably stress you out (for tips on stress relief you can view my last blog post on stress management by clicking here) and would undoubtedly affect other areas of your life such as work and school. When you think about an injury to your leg it becomes obvious that our bodies are interconnected and that the health of the one part or system in our bodies directly impacts the health of other parts and systems.

I’ve got news for you, you should be thinking about your body’s reaction to testing the SAME way. If you don’t remember to care for your body, the part of your body that you are using to take your test (your brain) could suffer. SAY WHAT?? Yup, that’s right if you don’t make sure to treat your body like the temple it is all of the hours spent studying and the time spent toiling through your courses may end up being a waste because you may never reach your full potential. Read below to find out how to prepare your ENTIRE body for a successful test-taking session. 

Eat, Move, Sleep, Repeat

The key to making sure you are operating at peak performance when you take a test is simple and only entails making sure you are doing the things you are probably already doing before you test. Making sure to eat the correct types of foods, being active, and getting enough sleep are the three pieces to the test well puzzle. Below you can find more information on each. 

  • Eat: Eating the Correct types of foods: In order to be able to focus on your test you need to make sure you are not hungry. The best way to ensure your tummy doesn’t start rumbling in the middle of your milestone, distracting you from answering a test question is to eat foods that will fill you up. You don’t need to eat a five-course meal before your test to make this happen, and in fact eating too much or eating the wrong type of food can even make you feel sleepy and lazy instead of energized and focused. Instead of eating a lot of random and nutrient deficient food on the morning of your test,  focus on eating foods that are full of protein as these foods will keep you full and keep you from pondering about your post test meal during the middle of an essay question. Eggs, nuts, cottage cheese, peanut butter and certain types of greek yogurt will all fuel you with the necessary protein needed to remain full during a long test session. For simple breakfast ideas that are high in protein visit the site below
  • Move: Move it or Lose It: Movement does wonders for our bodies. Moving around helps get our blood flowing and improves circulation which can help us feel more awake. In addition, anytime you move and sweat, endorphins are released. Endorphins are chemicals that make us happy 🙂 Moving around before taking your test and, if you are given a break during your test you are testing, is of the utmost importance. Even something as simple as a quick stretch or some breathing can go a long way to help you stay more alert and more focused. For some easy breathing techniques that you can do anywhere, visit the following site: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/relaxation_techniques_breath_focus
  • Sleep: The uninterrupted kind– Sleep is one of the most valuable gifts that you can give to your body. Even when people are trying to lose weight and are doing everything right such as exercising and eating a nutritious diet, without enough sleep their efforts will have been for naught. It helps me to think about sleep the same way I think about my cell phone. All day long my cell phone works hard running my apps and receiving text messages and notifications. At the end of the day, my cell phone is drained and needs to be charged. Our bodies are JUST like cell phones in that they work hard to keep us functioning at work, school, and even at home. At the end of the day we need to recharge our batteries and the only way to do that is to get sleep. And to get enough of it that our bodies can go into recovery mode. While the amount of sleep required in order to function at peak performance is something that is always under review, most doctors will tell you to aim for at least 8 hours of sleep. However, the amount of time you sleep is not the only thing that is important when it comes to sleeping. It turns out that your sleep environment is super important too. I visited the National Sleep Foundation website in order to learn more about the best environment to drift off to sleep in. Here is what I found:
    • Your room shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. It turns out that “most sleep experts recommend a temperature of 65 degrees for the best sleep.”
    • Turning off or putting away your tv, phone, tablet, computer,  etc at least an hour before can actually help you sleep better. Both noise and light can disrupt your sleep so to alleviate anything that may disrupt your z’s  by keeping these devices away from you, out of the bedroom, and completely shut off!
    • Washing your sheets and pillowcases at least once a week and breathing in that “fresh sheet” smell can help you sleep better. There’s an excuse for students to learn how to do laundry nice and early, you’re welcome parents (sorry students, but facts are facts). 🙂
    • If you have to eat, have a small snack the hours leading up to bedtime. A larger meal may provide extra energy to your body that prevents you from sleeping.
    • For more information on sleep tips visit: https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/index.php

The Night Before

The night before your test make sure you get a chance to get some moderate exercise in. You can go for a walk, ride your bike, anything to get the blood pumping. Have a nice dinner, but try to avoid overloading on carbohydrates (carbs) as this may make you sluggish tomorrow. Get to bed early and keep your electronics off and out of the bedroom. Making these few simple sacrifices the night before your test will help prepare your mindset for the mental exertion that will take place tomorrow. 

The Day Of

Wake up early enough to eat a protein fueled breakfast. Remember, it doesn’t need to be a four-course meal fit for royalty. Instead, focus on foods like eggs or greek yogurt that are full of protein and will keep you full. Give yourself enough time to shower, eat,  and still have time to do some stretching and breathing exercises to focus your mind on the task at hand. You can even write yourself an affirmation and repeat it before your test about what you wish to accomplish during your test :). If you get a break during your test, make sure to get up and stretch. This will help you relieve any stress you may have incurred from wracking your brain and get the blood circulating so you can power through the rest of your test. 

The Bottom Line-Everything is Connected 

One of the things that struck me the most when I ventured off to college was how interconnected my classes were. I was reading books in English class while I was studying those periods of history in my history courses. I was learning about why people act the way they do in my psychology classes and figuring out the different responses to stress in my science classes. Thinking about things as they relate to one another really helped drive my learning and is something that has stuck with me ever since. Similarly, if we view our bodies as a whole and understand that in order to test effectively we must take care of the singular parts of our bodies then it becomes easier to see why full body preparation before taking a test is so important. Think of your body as a machine that needs all of its parts taken care of and maintained, remember to eat, move and sleep and you’ll be ready to conquer any test. 

Next Week’s Post: Planning for the end of this semester and the beginning of Fall semester. I hope to have some awesome guest writers contribute some content, until then best of luck on your milestone tests!

Sources:

Featured Photo- https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/georgia/articles/the-10-most-beautiful-towns-in-georgia/

Healthy Eating- http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/high-protein-breakfast-ideas/

Breathing Techniques- http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/relaxation_techniques_breath_focus

Sleep Tips- https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/index.php

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Stress Management

Featured Photo: This week’s featured photo is Athens, GA, a city famous for not only its “historic architecture” (www.visitathensga.com) but for housing Georgia’s Beloved Bulldogs at the University of Georgia as well. 

Although Spring Break was a wonderful way for many of us to take a break from school and recharge, it signifies that we are almost at the end of Spring Semester. This means that for many students there are only a few more months to finish up remaining courses and/or even finish the FINAL courses standing between you and graduation. This time of year is not only an exciting one but it is an incredibly stressful time of year as well. It is important to remember to find things to do that will help you manage and relieve stress so that you can focus on your courses and complete whatever tasks and goals you have set for yourself.

What is Stress?

Ever wonder what stress is? The simplest definition of stress is that it is anything that makes us feel strained or anxious. Stressors can include but are not limited to:

  • Work or Project Deadlines
  • School work or Mandatory Tests
  • A new addition to the family
  • Losing a family member
  • Moving
  • Relationships
  • Work

Stress is inevitable. Each person reading this blog post will feel stressed at some point between now and the end of the semester. However, how you react to stress can make all the difference in the world. There are many ways to manage stress, I am going to mention some of the best ways to reduce stress and take you through what I do when I find myself stressed 🙂

Stress Management Techniques

  • Drawing, painting, or creating art – For many people artwork can be very calming and cathartic (relieves feelings). Creating art is such a popular stress remedy that many adults and young adults have taken to coloring. There are even coloring books catered to these very groups because of how effective it is in regards to promoting relaxations.
  • Reading or writing– Reading or writing are two of the most tried and true stress relief techniques. Reading allows you to lead a life different from your own, even if for only a small amount of time. Reading can also help you escape from the stresses of your day. When you read you can be a wizard facing a dangerous foe,  a ghost trying to figure out what happened to you or even be a detective trying to solve a crime. Reading transforms our “ordinary lives” and allows us to be ANYONE we want to be. Writing is very therapeutic when dealing with stress. Writing can allow someone to release their emotions and can be private if done in a diary. More than once I have actually written a letter to someone who made me feel upset but I destroyed the letter before sending it to rid myself the feelings I had towards that person. You also know, from one of my previous posts, the power of writing down a goal and repeating and reading this goal. As a refresher, doing this can help you achieve this goal and literally takes five minutes a day 🙂
  • Napping– One of the easiest ways to relieve stress is to take a good old fashioned nap. There is a reason babies get really cranky if they have not had a nap and that is because sleep calms us and allows our brains time to shut down.
  • Getting into water Immersing yourself in water is a great way to relieve stress. Taking a bath or swimming are two amazing ways to relax. In fact, salt water which you can find in oceans is extremely healing. It can clear up rashes on your skin and clean any cuts you have. Water is peaceful to us because it reminds us of being in the womb. Many people flock to water to relieve tension or stress whether they are active in a pool or ocean or are hanging out in a bathtub or jacuzzi.
  • Massage– Getting a massage doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can ask your parent or loved one to give you a quick shoulder massage. On top of feeling nice, massages help release toxins in our bodies which help us feel better. 
  • Exercise– Exercising is one of the best stress relief techniques because its free and you can exercise anywhere. You can take a walk, do some yoga, go for a run, or ride a bike. Anything that gets you moving counts as exercise. The benefits of exercise are plentiful and include helping give you more energy, assisting you in maintaining, losing, or even gaining weight depending on what you do, and releasing endorphins , chemicals in our bodies, which help us feel less stressed  🙂

How will I know when I am stressed?

There are some key indicators that will become obvious to those around of you if you are stressed. These include moodiness and a short temper. There are other things you may also notice about yourself when you are stressed which include headaches, trouble focusing, or even getting sick. As you can see managing your stress is an important step in keeping you physically and emotionally healthy. 

My Stress Relief Techniques

When I get stressed there are a few things I always do to help myself feel less stressed. Read about them below 🙂

Exercise– As someone who has always played sports it is no surprise that I exercise when I get stressed. My preferred method of stress relief is to take a kickboxing class or go swimming but since those require a kickboxing instructor and a body of water, I have learned to relieve my stress through going for a jog or walk with my family and through practicing yoga. I actually just started yoga a few weeks ago and although I am still learning the ins and outs of yoga, I love how I feel when I practice it. Yoga focuses on breathing on stretching which are two key components to maintaining your health. Many aches and pains can be relieved through stretching and believe it or not learning how to control your breathing can help change your mood instantly. 

Venting to a friend– If I am stressed I make sure I have someone to vent too. Sometimes talking out our stresses can help us find different solutions to what is stressing us out. If nothing else it takes your mind off what is causing you stress because you are venting to a friend and you get to catch up. The key here is to make sure you don’t ONLY call that person when you are stressed. You don’t want the person you are venting too to feel like you only call them when you need to unload, nor do you want to always make your problems their problems (which can cause them stress). I have a policy with one of my friends that once a week we will have a chat about the things that are stressing us out. All other talks are vent free unless they happen organically. The planned vent session helps us mentally prepare to hear about someone else’s troubles and helps us avoid always calling each other to talk about our problems.

Finding a Balance

The important thing to remember when dealing with stress is to find a balance. I am not suggesting that if you are stressed you spend your whole day avoiding what is bothering you by reading in the bathtub or napping and painting. Instead, I am suggesting that you recognize the signs that indicate you are stressed and take small breaks and steps to deal with your stress before it becomes too much to bear. I know this is easier said than done but going back to my last post on communication, this is simple of you learn to speak up.

Who can I talk too at school when I am stressed?

The first person you should contact if you are stressed is your professional school counselor. Not only are they great sounding boards for particular issues that are bothering you , but they are knowledgeable about different resources to help you deal with your stress as well.

If you cannot get ahold of your counselor you can address your school center leader when you are stressed. If you attend a brick and mortar center you should know who your leader is, but if not refer back to my communication post 🙂 If you are a virtual student your center leader is me 🙂 If nothing else, reaching out to your center leader signals to someone that something is going on with you and allows us to spring into action to put you in touch with the right person. 

My biggest piece of advice.

The best advice I can offer you if you are stressed is to NOT forget about your schoolwork. Communicate you are stressed to someone, take the time to do something for you, but continue to chip away at your work. Getting a few activities completed when you are feeling overwhelmed will help you feel better about your stressful situation. Not doing anything will only cause you to feel more stressed and put you even farther behind. One student below, who manages her busy personal life and schoolwork shares her thoughts on what she does when she is stressed out. 

“I work full-time but I remind myself that failure is not an option and that I have set goals for myself that I refuse to give up on. My favorite quote is “push for success” and I just constantly tell myself I can do just that because you can do whatever you want in life if you put your mind to it. I am lucky that my husband and my family support me and understand when I have to stay up late to put in time after working all day or when I have to use the weekends to catch up or put in extra time. I also remember to take a 30 to 60-minute break whenever I do work to give myself a little time to relax when I am working hard.”

Final Remarks

Stress is something we all experience, but you don’t have to let stress get the best of you. Find something you enjoy doing and even if you have to write yourself a note or find an accountability buddy, make sure you do that thing when you find yourself getting stressed. Remember that you can always reach out to your professional school counselor or your center leader if you feel overwhelmed. We are here to help and want you to be successful with the end of the semester approaching!