Ok so, I know that it’s easy to push the importance of healthy habits when I’m not in the middle of a stress storm. I totally get that in the heat of the moment most people will be inclined to pick what makes them feel good right now–I know that was almost always my default behavior. During school, I opted to eat whatever junk food I wanted because I was so miserable studying that a little treat like soda was, I thought, well deserved. Except–the treat became a daily habit and that was not good for my body or mind.
My last semester of law school I decided to give up soda for lent. I didn’t think much of it, but about two weeks in, I realized that I had been retaining a lot of water because without the extra sodium from the soda, my wedding and engagement rings became loose (i.e. not tight) and fit appropriately. I hadn’t even realized the toll a daily (sometimes more) dose of soda had taken on my body until I saw the physical results. I also realized I felt less lethargic and more energized because I was not pouring pounds of sugar into my body every week. Perhaps a realization that seemed a little too late, but I finally came to terms with the fact that diet did matter. This was a big turning point in my attempt to be healthy and make my health a bigger priority.
So, with that background, I come to you imploring you to think about the changes and healthy habits you can create if you decide to replace at least one unhealthy habit for something better (even though I know it’s human nature to opt for the cookies, coffee, pizza, etc.).
A few choices you can make for the better:
one. Reduce caffeine and replace with real food. It’s logical to drink some coffee to give us a little boost. But often, as students, the stress morphs this habit into a “drink all the coffee!” situation, which can increase our anxiety and put us on edge. That anxiety doesn’t even take into account the effect that comes with cream, sugar, or sugar-substitutes. So, replace one or two cups with an energy-rich food: bananas, almonds, or even peppermint tea can give you boosts of energy you need without the negative side effects.
two. Replace comfort food with one healthy meal. Make it a point to commit to having—at minimum–one healthy meal a day. Those comfort foods taste great and hit all the right neurons to make us feel good, but then there’s the sugar crash, the bloating, the lethargy. Those side-effects don’t just affect your health—it impacts your ability to study and retain information. How better fueled would you be if you started with a healthy breakfast or opted for healthy snacks while you studied?
three. Reduce late night studying and replace it with sleep. I will take a second while you laugh in my face about this suggestion. Yeah I know law students don’t sleep. But can I just tell you there was an incredible difference between the days where I did sleep versus when I didn’t? And yes, there were some days so filled with events and deadlines that late night was my only time to study, but there were others where I just wasn’t being efficient with my time. If you can organize your calendar so you get a full night or as close to a full night as possible—on a consistent basis, it will make a huge difference in your state of mind.
Good luck with exams! And keep it mind that it’s almost over!