Ahh, the winter months. The brisk chill in the air brings to mind warm cocoa by the fire, festive office parties, and joyous family celebrations. But for millions of students, December also rings in one of the most dreaded times of the year: finals season. No one wants to cram while the snow is falling and the holiday spirit is building to a fever pitch, so it can be a doubly difficult time to concentrate on Chem 101. Here are some pro tips to boost your mental clarity amidst the carol singing and the eggnog sipping:
Limit Caffeine Intake
While it may seem productive to amp up on coffee and energy drinks, these seemingly innocuous drinks are express lanes to dehydration. According to UC Davis’s Student Health and Counseling Services website,
“Excess amounts of caffeine can dehydrate you and adversely change your blood sugar levels, making you physically and mentally exhausted. Studies have shown that dehydration can affect your motor skills, awareness, and even your mood.”
Ouch. Many of us have been taken in by the delicious spike in energy that coffee provides, but longer-term, it’s not doing us any favors--the effects of dehydration can be brutal. Opt for tea instead, or double down on your hydration efforts to avoid crashes and brain fog.
Hydration for Mental Focus
Hydration and learning go hand in hand. Our brains are over 85% water, so it’s no wonder dehydration can wreak havoc on our levels of focus and concentration. The recommended water intake for an adult is 8-10 glasses a day, but in the throes of studying, it can be hard to remember to refill your water bottle--and challenging to tear yourself away from the book. If you find yourself continually letting the well run dry, try Liquid IV’s Hydration Multiplier. Using Cellular Transport Technology (and all-natural ingredients), 1 serving of Hydration Multiplier can provide the same hydration as 2-3 bottles of water. Used in developing countries for those who don’t get enough clean water, and during natural disasters for relief workers, Liquid I.V. helps reverse the effects of dehydration by maximizing the water and minerals absorbed into the bloodstream. Imagine what it could do for your workload!
While it may seem like a tragic waste of study time to sit and do nothing for five minutes, meditation may actually prove to be your biggest time-saver. Imagine not having to read that page in your history textbook three times before you absorb it! There are thousands of ways to meditate, but one of the most common involves focusing on your breath with your eyes closed. It seems simple, but the benefits can be far-reaching. Meditation has been known to sharpen mental focus, improve mood, and reduce stress—all helpful benefits when burning the midnight oil.
Finals can be a frustrating time for those of us tempted to celebrate the holidays all month long. Stay ahead of the class by optimizing your brain, and you’ll be giving yourself an unexpected boost in focus, clarity and, hopefully, your test scores!