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Tips to Get You Through the School Year

Whether you are ecstatic, reluctant, or simply waiting in anticipation for exam schedules, one thing is for sure, it is back to school!  There are a few challenges when transitioning from a summer schedule to school life – with my years of experience as a “professional student” I wanted to pass on some helpful tricks!

STAYING SEATED

School means a lot of time seated. It comes with the territory; it involves being seated to get to school, staying seated in class or lecture, and then sitting at home to get some very important studying done.  People quickly find that when spending more time seated they start to have different aches and pains they did not notice before: low back pain, neck pain, sore hips or knees.  Surprisingly enough, it does not take all that much to counter act being seated for so long. 

  • First, make sure you get up and move around at least once an hour! Taking a bathroom break, going to fill a water glass, and recovering some papers from the printer all count.  Moving around every once and a while helps to reverse the seated position.
  • Secondly, posture is crucial.  I know – easier said then done!!!  For some helpful exercises check out some of our other blog posts, but ultimately it boils down to this: sit in a comfortable chair so that you have a slight/natural curve in your low back, then focus on sitting tall (and not stiff!).  And… however tempting it is, at all costs, try to avoid studying all slouched on your bed or couch.

EXERCISE

Stop me if this sound familiar; at the beginning of the school year we all have great intentions to stay active and in shape, then “reality” sets in and we are lucky if we get moving once in the week?  When school schedules get into full swing and there are papers due, midterms, lab reports, group study sessions, and final exams it is no wonder exercise takes a back seat.  Exercising on a regular basis can actually help you make it through the school year.  Like we talked about before, exercise gives us a chance to move around and undo some of the negative effects sitting can have on the body. 

Even more interestingly, exercise helps IMPROVE COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE.  It is important to consider the brain like any other muscle, it needs breaks to function optimally – would anyone be able to do bicep curls all day without a break in between?  Of course not; we have to treat the brain the same way. Be it a walk outside, jogging, yoga, a weight class, or hitting the gym, give your brain a break and keep your body moving, it pays off in the end!

MINDFULNESS

I found the hardest part of managing school life was to “unplug” from school obligations and give myself a break.  Like I mentioned before it is important to give the brain a break to recover, but taking time to step away from studying also helps to manage stress and increases focus and concentration when you return to your task.  As a veteran student myself, here are some tricks I discovered over the years:

  • Deep breathing techniques;
  • Meditation (try the apps HeadSpace or Calm).  As little as 10 minutes of quiet time goes a long way, and the techniques you learn meditating come in handy during high stress periods (presentations, exams, etc.)
  • A hobby; a walk outside, painting, dance, any other sport, knitting, and the list goes on.

Since it is so easy to put time for ourselves aside when there are deadlines closing in, it is super important to schedule it as you would any other appointment – and then stick to it!  Do not use taking study breaks, exercise or time away from schoolwork as an excuse to procrastinate.  Work them into your routine to optimize your results!

Good luck for the 2017-2018 school year, if you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact us here at Vitality!

Catherine Helferty
Intern in Osteopathy