It’s been, four weeks since I’ve exercised,
Run around the block or even mobilized,
Three weeks since I’ve used a spoon,
Don’t need manners eating alone in my room,
Two weeks munching half frozen meals,
While reading cases and high court appeals,
Yesterday was Easter vacation
But it’ll still be two days till I lose this caffeine fixation…
If you’re anything like me, somewhere between week three to seven all your meticulous study plans, exercise regime and sometimes even your personal hygiene routine slip. Life becomes one big endurance race where the finish line is the end of the semester and tasks such as eating, sleeping, walking and conversing with friends about anything but law, are irritating hurdles.
It’s not a slow decent into study madness either. In a flash you find yourself tapping away on your computer keyboard into the early hours, sipping caffeinated beverages with an unshakable belief that they will give you super powers which will make you never sleep again… and that such a development would be a good thing.
Unfortunately, and I am truly sorry to have to tell you this because I know at least ten fourth year law student friends who are currently hunched over cans of Mother whispering “my preciousess”, but caffeine won’t give you wings. Nor is it a substitute for actual food. So let’s stop the liquid diet – which is causing me to jump between dress sizes 6-10 according to the week assessments are due – and start looking at how to eat healthy before we get sick!
Yes, it’s the week after Easter and yes, this chocolate is free, includes caffeine and rather plentiful (in fact you have a Mount Everest-esque stack of chocolate eggs and oddly coloured bunnies sitting on your desk); but refrain from spending the holidays leaving chocolate finger prints all over your textbook pages.
Now is the time to be trying to re-establish healthy eating habits because I guarantee that if you keep this up you’re going to have the flu right around exam time. Even if you’re only going to have it with a side of chocolate, invest in some fresh fruit to ward off future viruses. The cold weather is also on the way so how about trying some new soups? You can add lots of vegetables and sip it out of a cup while sitting by the heater and studying. Mmmmm… cozy.
The next few weeks are going to be hectic so why not take a few hours out to cook your favourite meals in advance? Buy some of those take away containers and use them to store and freeze the meals you prepare. Having a cooking day once a week is a good habit to get into, even during the semester. It doesn’t mean you will lose a day of study either. Is the food in the oven or simmering on the stove? Why not have a look at those readings while you wait and nibble on the ingredients sitting at the counter?
It is also wise to spend those 5 minutes BEFORE you go to bed (never in the morning because it will just not get done) to pack your lunch for the next day. Don’t starve yourself for the 12 hours you spend at uni and then buy all your meals out of a vending machine.
When you are struggling to find enough hours in the day to get assessments done, it is often hard to justify spending the time to make a meal. Cutting up your vegetables as soon as you have been shopping and storing them for when your week hits fast-forward is a handy quick trick. Throwing some fruit and veg into a blender with some milk also makes a nutritious smoothie that takes literally seconds to make and even less time to consume.
I know it’s hard to believe but there are some very good alternatives to caffeine. Try swapping a few cups of coffee with:
Doing a 5-minute exercise routine, like running on the spot. Contrary to what you might think, exercise helps stimulate the mind and body and will actually make you more awake.
Eating an apple. Apples have a high fructose level which helps give the body a natural sugar rush. Try closing those peepers now!
Alternate with tea. Tea still has some caffeine content, but it is much less then coffee and your body will be better for it.
Have a power nap when you start writing nonsense. If you’re not being productive you might as well recharge the batteries.
Nip It in the Bud
It’s hard to take some time when you just don’t feel you can. I get it. Last week I turned up to my Civil Procedure lecture covered in a red itchy rash after being bitten by a spider… This is an example of when you should take some time. In my instance, I should have been at the doctors.
If you feel sick or run down it’s best to take some me time, otherwise you will be taking a whole lot more time off later. Our bodies need to be looked after and cared for, otherwise they won’t work when you need them to write that essay.
As law students we have a tendency to wear our bodies out due to our heavy workload. Unfortunately our minds can’t work without the rest of us. So let’s not “let it be two days until we say we’re sorry”, and start some caffeine cutbacks.
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