Exams Are Over? Time to Recover
Now that finals are over, you’re probably distressing in whatever way you can. Unfortunately, a long night of drinking and debauchery may not be what your body and mind need to let go of the chemicals that your stressful exams have left in your brain. Instead of getting drunk and getting into trouble, it might be wise to understand exactly how stress affects you and learn some healthy (and fun) ways of relaxing from your exams.
According to Nicky Hays, editor of Foundations of Psychology, exam stress effects can be intense, leading to worry, poor sleep habits, and decreased memory function. In fact, the more stressful the exam is, the more your body will produce adrenaline-related hormones to help you “fight” your fear.
Extended periods of stress can have an effect on your body, too. The adrenaline hormones released during these times can cause your immune system to weaken, making you more susceptible to illness. It has even been shown to change the color of your hair.
Post-Exam Stress: The Unsung Killer
Unfortunately, just because your exams are over doesn’t mean that the stress is. In fact, recent research from the Journal of Behavioral Medicine shows that your cells may be less able to repair DNA after your exams are completed. In addition, there is a correlation between fear about the future and depression after a stressful exam week is completed.
Wrong Way to Distress
What’s the point of all this? The truth is, after you have completed stressful exams, your body is in a precarious position. Your immune system is lowered, your cells can’t respond as quickly or as well as you expected, and you are at a higher risk of becoming sick. This is the worst time to weaken your system even further with alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviors.
In fact, finals are a particularly bad time for both alcohol and drug-related “celebrations”. They are statistically more likely times for college students to be victims of alcohol poisoning, violence, and rape. Not only that but recovering from exams with these kinds of behaviors can lead to suspension or expulsion from your school.
Make Stress Go Away
Here are some great alternatives to relieving finals stress that won’t hurt your pocketbook or your liver.
- Go on a short road trip with a few friends. You can get away from the campus, focus on doing something you love, and let your brain unwind. You might be interested to check the list of the cheapest summer destinations for students.
- Start an exercise program. This relieves the excess adrenaline that is trapped in your muscles and releases positive endorphins that won’t leave you hungover.
- Join a city sports club. Being involved in a sports team has all the benefits of exercising, but you also get to meet people interested in things you like to do.
- Go to a funny movie. Research from the University of Maryland has shown that laughter decreases stress levels and lowers blood pressure – especially if you’re watching it on the big screen.
- Listen to classical music. Soothing music has been found to relieve stress on both the body and mind. Several studies have shown how it can lower blood pressure, improve mood, and even facilitate creativity!
- Make something crafty. Recent research from the Journal of Academic Medicine touts the de-stressing benefits of repetitive creation in activities such as knitting. These actions can release muscle tension, lower heart rate, and let the mind focus on something entirely stress-free. Perhaps, you’ll find these weird hobbies more exciting than regular knitting.
- Eat a banana. Researchers have found that eating these Vitamin B-infused fruits can alleviate the stresses on your nervous system. In addition, the natural sugars in bananas give your brain a small dose of endorphins, which staves off depression.
- See an old friend. A study published in Developmental Psychology stated that people who go through stressful situations with a good friend aren’t as damaged by it. That means, seeing a friend after exams might help alleviate your stress and make you feel better about yourself.
No matter how bad your final exams felt, remember that they are not the end of the world. Take care of your mind and body by relaxing in ways that will keep you healthy and safe. Not only will your body and mind feel better, but you won’t have any regrets to feel stressed about the morning after your last day of exams.
How do you recover from stress and recuperate after exams? Share your tips in the comments below!