Three Ways College Students Can Stay Healthy During Finals Week

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For college students, finals week is one of the most stressful weeks of the entire semester. Between all of the exams, papers, group projects and presentations, our stress levels increase, and often our health declines as a result. We barely have time to eat, let alone think about maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout the week.

Because of the stress that finals week brings, it’s important for college students to stay healthy during this time, not just for our health, but for our performance on finals. So before you begin stress-eating and reach for that sixth Reese’s cup, check out these three tips that will make it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be at your best for whatever finals week throws your way.

MEAL-PREP THE WEEKEND BEFORE

 You know you’ll be busy during finals week. Between cramming for hours in the library for your economics exam and holing up in a campus coffee shop for the day while you finish your English paper, you won’t have a ton of free time during finals week to prepare healthy meals to maintain your healthy lifestyle. That’s where meal-prepping comes in handy!

Take a study break for two or three hours the Saturday or Sunday before finals week and head to the grocery store to purchase ingredients for all of the meals and snacks you plan on eating during the next week. Then once you get home, cook and prepare all of your meals and snacks, then store them in air-tight containers.

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Image via dailyburn.com. 

Then, when you’re feeling hungry, grab one of your prepared meals or snacks, instead of reaching for that candy bar. Meal-prepping will save you time, and save you from stress eating unhealthy foods throughout the week, so you have one less thing to worry about.

 GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

 College students are short on time during finals week, which often leads to long nights and opting for studying over sleeping. While you may see this as productive and necessary, a lack of sleep during finals week is actually detrimental to your healthy lifestyle. Not getting enough sleep can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. While you’re not going to have a heart attack the morning after getting two hours of sleep, if a lack of sleep is coupled with other unhealthy habits, you do run the risk of being more susceptible to these serious health issues in the future.

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Image via reference.com. 

Plus, a lack of sleep can also be detrimental to your performance on exams, papers and projects during finals week. Not getting enough sleep causes a lack of attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving, and makes you less likely to remember everything you learned that day when you wake up the next morning.

So, do yourself a favor: get a good night’s sleep during finals week. You don’t have to get 10 hours each night, but make sleep a priority, for both your health and your grades.

 HIT THE GYM

Working out is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but hitting the gym is even more important to a college student’s health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, throughout your body, which in turn, reduces stress, which tend to be pretty high among college students during finals week.

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Image via fitneass.com. 

To maintain your healthy lifestyle (and sanity) during finals week, make sure to take a study break and get your sweat on. This doesn’t mean you need to run five miles or spend two hours on the elliptical, but it does mean that you should make an effort to be active, to maintain your healthy lifestyle and reduce stress. Whether it’s taking a walk around your college campus for a half hour or cranking up some tunes and having a dance party with your roommates in your living room, a little activity will go a long way in releasing endorphins and reducing stress.

Seriously, it’s that simple. Just meal-prep, get some sleep and hit the gym throughout finals week, and you’ll be able to maintain your healthy lifestyle during the most stressful week of the semester. Plus, you might even get better grades on your final exams, which makes every college student stress a lot less!

 

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Five Keys to Meal-Prepping Healthy Food in College

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Busy college students are always on the go. Between classes, meetings, homework and studying, we barely have time to eat, let alone cook delicious, healthy meals every night.

Dining halls typically provide a wide variety of healthy options and are easy to access while living in residence halls. However, once you move into an apartment off-campus, preparing healthy food becomes a challenge. But cooking and eating healthy meals as a college student doesn’t have to be difficult. Why? Because of meal-prepping.

“Meal-prepping” (short for meal-preparation) involves cooking all of your food for the week on one day (usually Sunday), then storing it in air-tight containers and reheating it for the rest of the week’s meals.

Though it takes a bit of planning and preparing ahead of time, meal-prepping saves busy college students so much time throughout the week. Keep reading for five tips that will help any college student with meal-prepping healthy food.

PICK A GOOD TIME

The key to good meal-prepping is to set aside enough time to plan, shop and prepare at the beginning of the week. Usually, the best days to meal-prep are Saturdays or Sundays, when your busy schedule dies down a bit and you likely have a couple of hours to spare.

This way, you can knock out shopping and preparing all of your food at the same time, and gain back more time during your busy week to cross more items off of your never-ending to-do list.

MAKE A PLAN

Before heading to the grocery store to stock up on ingredients for your healthy meals, figure out what you want to eat for the week. This includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.

Check what you have on hand and scour the Internet for recipes – BuzzFeed Food and CHAARG are two of my favorites for quick, delicious and healthy meals. As a college student, keep your schedule for the week in mind – if you’ll be on the go the whole time, opt for meal-prepping healthy food that won’t go bad if you carry them around in your backpack all day.

Then, fill your grocery list with these ingredients and hit the store! Focus on lean proteins like chicken, fresh produce and whole grains, and less on processed snack foods.

This list will help you stay on track while shopping and ensure that you won’t stray to pick up junk food that doesn’t fit into your meal plan (or budget).

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WASH, PEEL AND CHOP YOUR PRODUCE

Once you’re home from the grocery store, take ten minutes to put away all of your grocery items and wash and chop all of your fresh fruits and vegetables. These are the keys to meal-prepping healthy food for the week, as chances are they’re included in your recipes and are also excellent snack options.

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Chopping up all of your peppers and broccoli on Sunday will make it much easier to throw together a quick salad or side dish when your life as a college student gets crazy and you have three meetings, two exams and a quiz on Wednesday.

Plus, it will keep your snacking on track. You’re more likely to reach for those peppers or some fresh berries for a snack if they’re already washed, cut and ready to go.

START COOKING!

Now that you have all the ingredients, get to cooking! Look up your recipes again and start prepping, baking and pan-searing your healthy food. Make sure you’re cooking it all, so you have enough for the entire week.

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Throw together a giant salad instead of making a smaller one each night. Cook five servings of brown rice instead of one. Bake all of your chicken breast instead of one at a time each night. This will save you so much time during the week – all it will take is the occasional minute in the microwave!

Once your prepping is finished, store all of your food in air-tight containers and put them in your refrigerator. Be sure you have easy access to them – when you’re hungry and looking for a snack, these visible and healthy food will help you stay on track with your snacking – and your busy schedule as a college student!

PUT YOUR MEALS TOGETHER

Now for the fun part: eating! Grab your healthy food from the fridge, throw it on a plate, heat it up in the microwave and enjoy! You can even take your meals on the go in your air-tight containers.  

Repeat all week until it’s time to meal prep all over again!

Seriously, it’s that simple. Meal-prepping healthy food will allow you to maintain a more nutritious diet, but still eat delicious meals that fit your lifestyle as a busy college student. Switch up your recipes each week, or stick with your favorites.

A little planning ahead and a couple of hours during a weekend afternoon will save you hours during the week. Now, you can spend that extra time doing homework, studying, or maybe even relaxing!

One Year Later

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On May 29, 2013, I was an emotional 18-year-old high school senior, waiting (somewhat) patiently to hear my name called so I could walk across the stage at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall, receive my diploma, and officially declare myself a high school graduate and alumna of Hudson High School. As I sat in that auditorium waiting, surrounded by my 410 classmates, it dawned on me that this would most likely be the last time we would ever sit together in the same room. As I watched one of my best friends, and our class’s valedictorian, deliver a beautiful and thoughtful speech, it occurred to me that we would probably never again see each other on a daily basis, as we did during our senior year. And as I finally heard my name echo throughout the auditorium, dead last out of 411 people, I realized that in three months, I was moving to a place where pretty much no one knew what my name was. One year ago today, I had never been more terrified or unsure about what the future had in store for me.

Three months after graduation, I left my family, friends, and Hudson, Ohio, the town where I had spent my entire life, and moved to Athens, Ohio to attend Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and follow my dream of studying journalism. I had grand plans of becoming a renowned sports journalist, covering human interest stories, traveling around the country following college basketball, and reporting on the Olympic Games. Thus, I chose the “news and information” over the “strategic communication” track at OU.

However, I soon realized that the journalism that I knew and loved was not in fact the journalism of today’s modernized society. Long gone are the days of newspapers being the only news source. I discovered that the job I thought I had always wanted no longer existed, but the new field that I had a growing interest in, public relations/strategic communication, was also quickly growing and changing.

I changed my track to strategic communications, joined public relations-focused organizations, and threw myself into discovering everything I possibly could about this industry. I took full advantage of everything OU and Scripps had to offer, and I started to feel like I was in the right place doing the right thing, which is a difficult thing to accomplish three hours away from my lifelong home. I even applied and interviewed for a couple of summer internships, one that was offered directly through Scripps. I received that internship, at a press release distribution company with an office in Cleveland, PR Newswire, near my hometown of Hudson.

On May 29, 2014, I have finished my first year of college and nearing the end of my second week of interning. Though this past year has had its ups and downs, I am so thankful for all the experiences and opportunities I have had and friends that I have made, because they have all truly shaped me into the person I am today. I’m grateful that I made the decision, and was fortunate enough to be able to, go away to college, because I have learned so much about myself in such a short period of time, and fallen in love with Ohio University and Athens. Sure, graduation was the last time the HHS class of 2013 was together in the same room, and I’m still unsure about what the future holds; but I still keep in touch with my close friends from high school, I still want to work in the sports industry, and I’m no longer (as) terrified of the future. Life after high school is not the end, but only the beginning. Congratulations, Class of 2014! I already cannot wait to see what you accomplish in the next year. (It will be here before you know it.)

It’s Only the Beginning

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I’ve known for quite some time that I wanted to study journalism in college. I think this desire stems from my lifelong love for writing, which has been a passion and hobby of mine since as early as first grade. I have an entire box in my room filled to the brim with my journals and diaries from elementary school, and, as I grew older, turned into essays and half-finished short stories that took over my family’s computer.

Working on my high school’s newspaper, The Explorer, allowed my love for writing blossom into something else: journalism. I learned how to write for newspapers and the media, and read The Plain Dealer and The Hudson Hub on a daily basis. I caught the journo bug early, and it grew and grew into a real possibility of a future career.

However, as I dove deeper into the journalism industry, I realized that I might not want to be a reporter or a broadcast journalist necessarily; I wasn’t sure if that career path was for me. I began feeling a little lost, and was looking into other options that involved writing and the media, trying to find a place for me within these industries.

During this research, I came across Ohio University’s strategic communications major, along with PR-focused extracurricular activities, such as PRSSA. I became intrigued, and though I have not changed my track from news and information to strat comm, I am planning on doing so sometime during this semester, in addition to declaring my minor in business administration. Finally, I feel like I am slowly discovering my path to where I need, and want, to be.

So now I am ready for whatever the future has in store for me, and I know that Ohio University is where I belong. And I will document every step of the way on this brand-new blog! Enjoy!