5 Body Hacks for College Students


Anxious about exams and interviews? Exhausted and worried about your morning classes but cannot fall asleep? Unable to focus in class because people around you keep gossiping? Don’t worry, we have your back! Here are some body hacks that you may find useful in everyday college life!

Attending lecture–UCLA Total Wellness

1. Attending lecture: Use your right ear to improve hearing

You’re finally in class, but you can’t hear the Professor because the two girls sitting behind you keep talking about a cute guy on Subtle Asian Dating. What do you do now?

People tend to cock their heads to the right when they are struggling to hear. This behavior may be instinctual, yet studies have revealed that there is in fact science behind head tilts. A study found that in loud environments, 72% of conversations are heard predominantly through the right ear [1]. This is because words heard by the right ear are sent to the left hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for speech interpretation and language development. This may explain why most people hold their phones to their right ears! Thus, turning your right ear towards the noise source in a lecture hall, in other words the professor, may enable you to hear and understand more information!

2. Testing: Jot down your emotions to improve exam results

You are overwhelmed by the unending list of mechanisms that you need to memorize for your upcoming organic chemistry exam. You fear that your stress may interfere with your performance, which inadvertently leads you to feel even more frustrated and anxious than you already are. However, research found that embracing your emotions by writing them down may actually improve test performance [2]. Specifically, students in the study who spent 10 minutes jotting down their emotions before an exam scored significantly higher than those who did not write anything. As explained by the researchers, this is because the process of expressing emotions on paper enables one to reexamine and reappraise the situation at hand, thereby helping to unload worries, free up memory resources, and improve focusing ability. Hence, before an exam, try writing down how you are feeling on a piece of paper–perhaps you may feel a little more relieved.

Interviewing–UCLA Total Wellness

3. Interviewing: Use body language to boost confidence

When you see students walking around campus in business formal wear, you know that it’s that time of the year: recruitment season. Preparing for the real world can be difficult, but there are several body tricks that can help you overcome your nervousness in upcoming job and internship interviews! For example, a study revealed that certain poses, such as sitting back in a chair with your feet crossed or leaning forward toward a table, can make you feel powerful [3]. While this confidence-boosting effect may not be observed under all circumstances, nonverbal communication is nonetheless very important when it comes to making a good first impression. Whether that is opening up your posture or sustaining eye contact, powerful body language like such can signal a sense of confidence to your interviewer.

4. Working out: Say the F word to reduce pain

Have you accidentally sprained your ankle while running and uncontrollably screamed out the F word? There is indeed a scientific explanation as to why people naturally swear in pain!

A study showed that when asked to submerge hands in ice-cold water to the point of discomfort, participants were able to keep their hands in the water 50% longer when they were swearing. Researchers explained that this may be because swearing triggers the “fight-or-flight” response by increasing heart rate and releasing adrenaline [4]. Exhibiting this form of verbal aggression may also help to downplay the perceived threat, thereby alleviating the painful sensation. A follow-up study, however, found that cursing brings no benefits to people who regularly say swear words [5]. As a result, it seems like you may want to save those F bombs for when you’re actually in pain!

Getting flu shots–UCLA Total Wellness

5. Getting flu shots: Cough to cope with pain

And then flu season comes and you see people lining up for flu shots at Bruin Plaza. If you are scared of injections, here is a trick that may come in handy!

To distract yourself from the pain when receiving an injection, try coughing vigorously when the needle is about to come into contact with the skin. Doctors in an article explained that coughing can serve as a distraction and momentarily increase blood pressure, thereby causing a reduction in pain perception. [6] Coughing can also help patients to cope with this uncomfortable experience. To maximize this effect, individuals should cough as the needle is being inserted. With this trick in mind, hopefully you feel a little more comfortable about getting that flu shot!

These body hacks could be useful in your everyday college life, from listening to lectures and taking an exam, to interviewing and getting a flu shot. They may sound too good to be true, but you never know unless you try!


  1. “Side biases in humans (Homo sapiens): three ecological studies on hemispheric asymmetries.” Naturwissenschaften. (2009).

  2. “Writing about testing worries boosts exam performance in the classroom.” Science. (2011).

  3. “Power posing: Brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance.” Psychol Sci. (2010).

  4. “Swearing as a response to pain.” Neuroreport. (2009).

  5. “Swearing as a response to pain—Effect of daily swearing frequency.” J Pain. (2011).

  6. “Coughing can reduce pain of injection, study shows”. BMJ. (2004).

more in be well