After my first chaotic year at college, I found myself utterly drained from constant business, stress and even tears. My emotions ranged from extreme excitement to overwhelming anxiety, heightening the most during the dreaded midterms and finals weeks (which was basically the third week in the UC system).
I realized that something in my life needed to dramatically change so that I could feel normal again, but I didn’t know what. Summer gave me a retrospective glance at my first hectic year of college, and I now understand what those life adjustments needed to be. Here are my seven goals for a healthier college experience that you’ll probably want to have as well.
1. (Finally) Taking Control of Your Sleep Schedule
Sleep is one of the most crucial aspects of your health and contentment. Just a couple more hours of deep slumber will add that extra pep to your step, not to mention a larger smile to your face. In a study done by Shelley D. Hershner and Ronald D. Chervin, inconsistent sleep schedules and reoccurring sleepiness hurt your intellectual success and performance. Additionally, 50 percent of college students report daytime sleepiness, which is significantly larger than the 36 percent of adults that experience so. The study was also done in 2014, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if those numbers even went up with increasing expectations and stress.
So, instead of being out with friends every night until your Snapchat clock says 3 a.m., limit your late plans and manage your sleep. You can definitely still have the fun that college promises you, just set a cap on how much fun is worth losing your mental sanity and overall healthiness. An acceptable balance could be studying until 11 p.m. or midnight on weeknights, while staying out on weekends with your friends. Not only will your body thank you the next 8 a.m. morning, but you’ll be more attentive to the lectures that you would otherwise sleep through. While managing your physical strength, your intellectual and academic success will only increase as well (which means that you’re pleasing your parents and also proving yourself as a smart, adult human being).
2. Scheduling Your Down Time
With Netflix shows such as “Riverdale” and “13 Reasons Why” trending on college campuses, you can get sucked into a deep binging hole way too easily. One episode turns into one emotional season, and before you know it you remember that you were supposed to do that “homework thing,” or whatever it’s called.
Although I hate making detailed schedules, hourly plans are essential to excellent time management. On a piece of paper, you can plan the following: Psychology studying from 11-12, lunch break from 12-12:30, English essay from 12:30-1:15, Chemistry reading from 1:15-1:45 and Netflix break 1:45-2:15. By having a set time frame to follow, you’ll feel more accountable for fitting your school work and precious down time into your day.
3. Maintaining a Consistent Workout Plan
The campus gym is always packed at the beginning of the school year, with girls repping their newest leggings and guys flexing to impress those girls. Yet, if you fast forward a couple more weeks, every treadmill will be empty and waiting for you to run on while listening to Spotify’s “Workout Twerkout” playlist. So, turn up your headphones and crank that playlist!
Midterms and finals are your enemies when trying to find time to work out, but having a set schedule is the answer to your struggle. I personally like exercising at nighttime, so I try to head to the gym around 9:30-10 p.m. so that I can still study a little bit after I shower. If you have a consistent time for your torture session, odds are that you’ll develop a steady habit. By working out, you can journey away from your textbooks and run off all of your internal pain (what better than to externalize it, right?). In addition, working out always makes you feel more confident and happy after the fact, so you will literally be planning a daily attitude shift for yourself.
4. Taking a Day to Yourself
The phrase “Treat Yourself” has evolved into a movement among women of all feminist levels. On PsychCentral, Gretchen Rubin argues that you can “recharge your battery” by rewarding yourself with treats. These treats can be anything that gives you pleasure—for me, they would be sunflowers, a shopping trip (yes, I know), sleep and a restful night alone in my room. I was constantly surrounded by people and noise in college, so Saturday’s became my favorite time to be alone and completely reenergize.
Find a day to calmly rest and loosen up, and reward yourself with whatever “treats” you know you need. When you slow down and focus on your mental relaxation, you will be able to more easily persevere through stressful time periods. I remember having the most anxiety-filled week, and yet I still somehow felt confident in my ability to get through it because of the Sunday I had before.
5. Actually Attending Every Class
When your annoying iPhone alarm sounds at 7 a.m., your automatic response is to press snooze and then want to throw your phone at your dorm wall. Eventually, you wake up at 11 a.m. and shockingly discover that you missed two classes already (talk about a productive day, right?). This could be a common morning for you. Although your resistance to countless early lectures may be because of the crazy nights before, an indifference to your classes is fully responsible to your attitude towards the scenario.
If you wake up and immediately watch a meaningless movie rather than emailing your peers for the day’s notes, then you’re not serious about your academic life. If want to attend each class, then you’ll take the precautions necessary to do so. If the problem is being out too much, then your dedication to your courses will shorten your nights with the girls. If your alarm is too annoying, then you’ll make it even more maddening so that you’ll have to yank the sheets off as an escape.
When you attend every lecture with the intent to seriously learn, it’s more likely that the material will make sense to you. Even if it’s exhaustingly confusing, at least you can make the walk of shame to your professor’s office hours for additional help.