Do you ever find yourself taking a longer study break than intended because you get lost scrolling through Instagram or Facebook? Browsing on your phone is an easy and enjoyable way to spend your study break, but why not use it to create healthy habits that will keep you focused during the exam period? Here are some tips and apps to help you do just that!
- Set Reminders. Reminders are a simple feature on your phone that can help you take frequent breaks to re-energize your brain during those long study sessions. Set up a reminder at regular intervals to take a walk to grab a snack, drink some water, or simply enjoy the fresh air
- During exam time, Facebook can help you to stay connected with friends and take study breaks together! Set up events such as a healthy snack swap or meetup at a café which you can walk to. Have a snack or drink, and walk back to your study spot.
- Nowadays there’s an app for everything. Here are a few that will help you build healthy habits to support your studying efforts:
- eaTracker – Having trouble eating a healthy diet when you’re busy studying? If you enter your age and weight, eaTracker will provide you with your nutrition recommendations. With this app, you can input your meals and snacks to obtain a breakdown of the amounts of fat, protein, and carbs you’re consuming. You can then adjust your meals to make sure you’re meeting your healthy eating goals. Eating a balanced diet will keep your blood sugar levels stable so you can maintain your energy all day long.
- Waterlogged – Keeping yourself hydrated will help you concentrate better. Often we mistake hunger for thirst, so drinking enough fluid can help you avoid overeating. This app allows you to track your water consumption and all you have to do is take a photo of your drinks! If you have a tendency to forget to drink, you can set up reminders through the app to prompt you to hydrate.
- One Sweet App – An important part of fighting stress during exams is to limit foods that are high in sugar. These foods can give you a quick boost of energy but may eventually make you feel tired or restless. This app (developed by nutrition researchers here at U of T!) allows you to scan the barcode of the products you’re eating and tells you how much free sugar is in that food. Free sugars are not naturally occurring in food and include added sugar and sugar from juices, fruit purees, honey, and syrups. What makes this app unique is that free sugar is not included on nutrition labels. You can then use this app to choose healthier study snacks that contain less free sugar and will keep those sugar crashes at bay
- Sworkit –Taking a break by doing some exercise is a great way to relieve the stress that tends to build up during the exam season. Sworkit is an app that includes free, fully customizable video workouts. All of the workouts can be done anywhere, meaning no equipment necessary, and include strength and cardio elements, stretching, Pilates, and yoga. You can choose from their vast workout video library to determine the order and duration of your workout for the day.
- Calm – Need a moment to relax and collect your thoughts? Taking the time to calm your brain is an important part of a healthy study routine because it gives your brain the short rest it needs in order to focus more later on. If you need some guidance to start, Calm is an app that guides you through meditation and breathing techniques.
By Simone Quenneville, MPH Nutrition & Dietetics (candidate) for Food Services with files from Pooja Mansukhani, RD, BA Registered Dietitian and Food Safety Officer, University of Toronto