Summer break: You thought it'd never get here. Over the past several months, you've fought through absolute academic chaos and probably shed what feels like every ounce of your sanity (as well as some tears) in the process. But, finally, you've made it through the long, grueling school year (or even just the single semester) and there's only one beast standing between you and sweet, summery freedom: Exams. Studying for final exams is the kind of mental marathon only a college student can truly understand, but, believe it or not, there's a lot more to preparing for your finals than just studying alone. Read on for my quick list of study tips for exams (that aren't actually studying!)

Avoid Chowing Down On Sugary Foods

candy, jelly beans, sweet, gelatin
Christin Urso

In the midst of a late night studying session, munching on a bag of M&M's might seem like a great idea, or maybe you're rushing to a morning help session and only have to grab a donut on the way. While occasional sugary treats are okay, filling up on way too many sugary foods during (and leading up to) finals week is bound to give you what folks call the "sugar hangover." Also called a "sugar crash", eating too much sugar at a time can cause you to feel tired, irritable, and give you a funky case of brain fog that has the power to sabotage your study time. The solution? Try to avoid over-snacking on sugary treats and save that celebratory ice cream run for after all your exams are over with. 

Stock Up On Healthy Snacks

cereal, wheat, corn, popcorn, rice
Sara Carte

There's no shying around this one - exams are stressful. Not only is it challenging to review so much material in a short amount of time, but if your grade in a particular class is hanging on what you earn on your final exam, then you're probably gonna be stressed to the max (no wonder you came here looking for study tips for exams!) Persisting stress can lead to elevated levels of the hormone cortisol in your body that ramps up your appetite and brings on the dreaded "stress eating" binge.  By keeping healthy snacks around your room versus unhealthy snacks, you can still fuel your pre-finals studying without ruining your eating habits! Need some healthy snack suggestions? Try apples with peanut butter, plain popcorn, or check out this list for dorm snack inspiration

Take Frequent Breaks

coffee, tea, espresso, milk, cappuccino, bed, cozy, Morning, mug
Caroline Ingalls

It's all too easy to get overwhelmed when studying for exams. Though it might not seem like it at first, it's 100% okay to take a break. Most of the time, the questions you're struggling with will make a lot more sense after you've taken some time to walk away from them, anyway! Set a little schedule for yourself, such as a break after each practice test, or maybe after reviewing a few homework sets. Whether you visit your local coffee shop, take a walk with a friend, or lie on your bed and listen to some music, use that break time to get away from your notes and textbooks for a while.

De-Stress With Activity

gym, fitness, cardio, exercise, Health, Exercising, Work Out, working out, indoor gym, Healthy, treadmill, running, run
Denise Uy

At the end of the day, we all know stress is inescapable (especially with exams coming up), but, thankfully, stress is also manageable! One of the best ways to manage your stress? Physical activity. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, studies show that exercise can actually improve your mental fitness by boosting your alertness, improving your sleep, reducing your tension, and elevating your mood. Couple all of this with the fact that your mind feels better when your body feels better, and you've got the perfect way to lessen your exam stress! If you're worried that too much exercise might make you too tired, try going for a brisk walk, a bike ride, or doing some yoga over your normal gym routine. 

Eat A Healthy Breakfast On Exam Day

porridge, rice, oatmeal, sweet, milk
Christin Urso

No, I'm not talking about a package of Poptarts - don't you remember the "sugar hangover" from the beginning of the article?! A foggy brain is the last thing anyone wants during final exams, and eating a healthy breakfast can help you avoid that problem. Instead of items that might make you feel sluggish or bloated, go for breakfast choices that will keep you satisfied and full, such as eggs with whole grain toast, oatmeal with fruit, a veggie omelet, or every millennial's favorite breakfast trend, avocado toast. Not only will these choices keep you perky and focused for your studying, they'll also keep your stomach from letting out a gnarly snarl of hunger in the middle of your silent exam room. 

Don't Skip Out On Good Sleep 

cake, pillow, bed, blanket, sleep, sleeping, nap, napping, girl in bed
Jocelyn Hsu

It might seem like this final study tip for exams should be pretty obvious, but college students (and just people in general) take for granted the importance of quality sleep way too often! Making a point to get a good amount of quality sleep in the nights leading up to your exam will not only help you retain information and concentrate during your study time, but it will also help keep away sleep-deprived headaches and mental fog when you sit down to begin that first exam. Different folks function differently on different amounts of sleep, so analyze your personal sleeping habits, figure out what amount of sleep leaves you feeling your best, and make a point to get that sleep in the nights leading up to your exams! 

Studying for exams will never be a walk in the park, but not every method of preparing for an exam has to do with actually studying. With these study tips for exams (that weren't actually studying!), I hope that you can remember the importance of self-care during exam week and use this to help you crush your finals. After that, treat yourself to a celebratory ice cream run, time with friends, and days in the sun - after all, you've earned it. 😎☀️🌊