I remember finals. I never looked upon them with dread, however, because with no more classes I always had plenty of time to study. As a matter of fact, I was always happy because I had more time to work out.
Since enrolling, graduating, and working in college has been my lifestyle for 10+ years now, I’ve heard the “I don’t have time to work out, I have to study!” bit plenty. I never understood it. If I study for more than 2 hours at a time, I get nervous, anxious, and have trouble concentrating. I need to get up, walk around, exercise, just to keep myself thinking straight. One of the reasons I believe I have a superhuman attention span is because I release my nervous energy and anxiety effectively with exercise, leaving me calm, collected, organized, and freshly showered for work and human relations.
Exercise will help you concentrate and study more effectively! It will help keep you calm, energized, and refreshed. It will help you sleep well at night, stay on a meal schedule, and break up the monotony of sitting in a library for hours on end. I like to think of it as “planned distraction”. You allow yourself to be distracted when you work out, but when study time rolls around you are prepared to give it your full attention.
Exercise does not have to be a 1-2 hour beat down. Schedules around final times are funny…but even 15-30 minutes will be effective to calm and refocus a tired mind. Some quick options include:
- A quick dip in the pool
- An exercise DVD. Also a great way to blow off steam in a group!
- Walk around campus or to a different study place
- Shooting the basketball
- Playing catch
- Passing the soccer ball, lacrosse ball, or frisbee
Completing a short amount of exercise will at least give you a sense of accomplishment of having completed a task, preparing you to complete another one. One reason students feel so out of sorts during finals time is that they neglect their usual routines, so not only does your body have to adjust to a new meal, sleep, and study schedule, you are neglecting things that bring you relaxation and comfort.
One of my favorite things to do when I was in college was to shoot around after a final. I would go and do full-court layups and play shooting games with myself, mentally unloading what I had just done in preparation for my next task, like all the information was in that ball and I had to dump it into the basket and out of my head.
What works for you?
Here are some links to information regarding studying, the brain, and exercise: