Both reluctant and excited college students alike are starting a new year. Whether you look forward to it or not, it’s always a challenge to get back into the swing of things after months outside of school — especially when you start thinking about the looming stress that’s approaching.
If you’re looking to make this year at college the best one yet, you might consider making a list of new school year resolutions. That way, when those obligations start piling up and those anxious thoughts start rolling in, you’ll feel more confident in managing them and coming out on top. Here are a few staple goals you can focus on.
1. Get organized
Sometimes the best way to get into a positive, motivated mindset is to just clean up your room. Keeping up with an organized dorm room or apartment throughout the school year could dramatically change your level of motivation. If your living space is a mess, it could leave you feeling sluggish or stressed out, so create a weekly cleaning schedule as part of your school year resolutions.
Your organizational habits should extend to your academic life, too. Pick out the most aesthetically pleasing planner that gets you excited — and then actually use it for the whole school year. Or if that’s not your thing, create color-coded folders and calendar events on your laptop to keep everything together.
Having all your obligations listed in one place will make everything seem a lot more manageable. You’ll feel like you can tackle the world once you start checking things off your to-do lists.
2. Create realistic schedules to avoid procrastination
But before you get too excited, don’t create unrealistic to-do lists. Give yourself a reasonable number of tasks every day. Be candid with yourself — do you want to run errands, go to the gym, do laundry and study all in one day?
Most importantly, make sure to incorporate break times within your schedules. Allotting five straight hours to study is nearly impossible: It’ll inevitably lead to unscheduled procrastination and mindlessly scrolling through social media. Instead, schedule liberal amounts of small breaks in between study sessions, and be honest with yourself about whether you’ll be able to focus on everything on a Sunday night.
3. Get more sleep
The deeper you get into your college experience, the more you’ll notice how sleep affects you. Back in high school, it might’ve been a breeze to stay up until 1 a.m. and wake up at six for school every day. But as your body gets older, those 7-8 hours become more and more necessary for a steady and healthy body function.
Remember, sleep affects everything — your brain function, immune system, mental health, even life expectancy. In order to be at your best, you have to make sure to get enough hours in every night.
The easiest way to make sleep one of your prioritized school year resolutions is to cut out late-night binge watches. One more episode of “Scandal” might seem like what you need at the time, but your 8 a.m. self will definitely think otherwise.
Of course, there will be nights when you cram for an exam or finish a midterm paper and have to rely on tomorrow’s caffeine. These nights are part of the college experience, but don’t make them a habit. Scheduling is everything — do as much work during the day as you can, so nights can be all about relaxation.
4. Stay healthy
College is a dangerous environment of greasy foods, alcohol and avoiding the gym. It’s so easy to get in a rut where you forget to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. This can hinder productivity and put you at risk for problems like depression and anxiety.
Make sure to get at least one fruit and veggie in at every trip to the dining hall, and cut back on foods that make your body feel lethargic. Try to find an exercise routine that you actually enjoy. Go to the gym with your friends, watch TV shows on the treadmill, find a campus yoga class, join a dance team — anything that will get you moving and get your endorphins going.
5. Get outside your comfort zone
You might have spent your first year or two at college getting accommodated, making friends and finding your balance. Now, it might be time to reach outside of that comfy balance and try something new. It’s so important to get good grades, but it’s equally as important to get the most out of your college experience as you can — it’s not cheap, after all.
Try out for the sport that you love, look for a club that matches your interests, apply for part-time internships, take a class about an unfamiliar subject. College is a peak time in your adolescence to explore your interests and the world around you.
There are countless opportunities that are presented to you at this time that might never arise again. It’s so important to look beyond the stress of finals, presentations and GPA to bask in all the fun parts college has to offer. Don’t let it pass you by!
6. Make new friends
Life is too short not to introduce yourself to the girl in your class that seems really nice. Reach out and be friendly! Make putting yourself out there one of your school year resolutions. Exposing yourself to new clubs, teams and environments will make this process even easier.
You’ll be surprised by how many rich bonds you can make within four short years at college. Some people have so many things in common with you, and you might not have ever met them otherwise.
You can work to overcome any social anxieties by facing these fears with a friend. The more you put yourself out there, the more comfortable you’ll be to keep doing it. You never know who you might be inviting to your wedding!
7. Live in the moment
Remember to take everything in slowly and enjoy the time you have in college. Before you know it, you’ll be graduating and thinking back on this time as the “good ol’ days.”
Don’t get caught up in the little things, like a bad grade or short-lived drama. Know that every single thing is passing, and every moment of your youth is precious. Savor everything and make this coming year the most productive and enjoyable one yet!