Mind for Life

HSC STRESS

Effective ways to manage stress as you prepare for exams and the HSC
Healthy eating habits, reducing anxiety and balancing moods

By Nilofar Dorani
Dietition(APD), Mind For Life

Our body’s response to stress greatly affects our appetite, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it changes our body’s need for food. During stressful periods, we find it increasingly difficult to make time and have the energy to prepare healthy meals, resulting in meals being skipped. Irregular eating patterns leads to more anxiety, mood swings and a decrease in overall health and wellbeing. However, each of us respond to stress differently. Some people actually eat less, but the majority of us crave highly flavourful comfort foods, rich in sugar but extremely unhealthy for your mind and body. Foods such as chips, cookies, soft drinks, icecream, chocolates, fast or take away foods are all the common options which are all very low in nutrients. Research has shown that over-indulging in our favourite comfort foods has little beneficial effects compared to eating something healthy like fruits or vegetables. A well-balanced life using some simple shortcuts for putting together nutritious meals, with preparation and routine being key habits to staying nourished and hydrated during these stressful times.

HERE ARE SOME SIMPLE TIPS TO HELP YOU LOWER YOUR STRESS AND MAINTAIN HEALTHY HABITS DURING EXAM TIME

TIP 1: HEALTHY DISTRACTIONS

Instead of walking to the fridge or pantry everytime the anxiety of the moment hits you,  do something else to distract yourself like going for a run around the block or any other physical activities. This has shown to have a similar effect in lowering our overall stress levels.

TIP 2: CREATE A SCHEDULE

Stay organised by having a daily schedule and sticking to it. Having structure for your day ahead and giving yourself the needed self-care will help ease your anxiety. 

TIP 3: HAVE A DAILY ROUTINE

Routine is the key to fuel your body and mind. Skipping meals          leads to feeling hungry which in turn makes us agitated. This is        when we tend to seek comfort foods with high calories that usually    leads to overeating and feeling guilty afterwards. To prevent this        from happening, set a reminder for regular meals each day. This      helps provide sustainable energy and prevents the sensation of      hunger leading to rising stress hormones.  

TIP 4: LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA AND DEVICE USE

Stay organised by having a daily schedule and sticking to it. Having structure for your day ahead and giving yourself the needed self-care will help ease your anxiety. 

TIP 5: MAKE SURE YOU EAT BREAKFAST

Don’t skip the most important meal of the day – BREAKFAST – which helps wake up your appetite and gives your body and mind a healthy kick start.

TIP 6: STAY HYDRATED

Remember to always remain hydrated and avoid sugary drinks which spike your blood sugar level making you feel full of energy for a very   short time. This energy then drops down quickly, making you feel more  tired and flat which can affect your ability to study effectively. It’s  also normal to think you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty! Keep a water bottle with you whilst studying to aid concentration and to remind yourself to drink regularly throughout the day. 

TIP 7: TAKE REGULAR BREAKS

Last but most importantly, don’t forget to take regular breaks in between your study sessions to help you stay focused and nourish your body and mind. A quick refresh will help you stay focused and prevent mental burn-out. So don’t forget to schedule free time for yourself. 

Adopting the simple practices above will no doubt assist you in managing your health and well-being effectively throughout the demanding HSC period.

HAPPY STUDYING

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