New Year’s resolutions aside, it’s time to get back in the swing of a new semester of college. Those long, lazy days at home with home-cooked meals, endless television, and late-night movies with friends from home have been replaced by class reading, paper writing, extracurriculars, and buffet-style dinners at the Pit.
To be successful this semester, you need to focus on more than just the grades. Your sleeping, eating, and exercise habits have a profound impact on your performance in the classroom and on the job (for those working as well). But there’s no need to stress over how to get yourself organized and motivated this semester. We are here to help with some useful tips for staying on track this spring!
Never skip breakfast. We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when all-nighters cause you to oversleep, you often forget to grab a piece of fruit or a granola bar on the way out the door to your 9am class. It is unrealistic to expect every student to set their alarm 30 minutes earlier to make time for a well-balanced breakfast at the Pit, so we recommend keeping grab-and-go options in your room (Suggestions: high fiber/protein granola bars, preferably all-natural; low-fat yogurt, especially the Greek variety; whole fruit, like apples, bananas, oranges, etc.; instant oatmeal; whole grain bagels and/or English muffins). At night, before you crash, put a bar or a piece of fruit in your school bag so you’ll have breakfast on hand even if you’re running behind.
Drink plenty of water. Coffee is a great (and healthy) caffeine alternative to soda, but your body needs a lot of water when you have a busy schedule to keep you hydrated. Invest in a reusable water bottle (like Camelback) to carry with you throughout the day. It’s economically and eco-friendly!
Make time for exercise. Not only will you feel more confident after a workout, but exercise is proven to increase alertness and academic performance. It is a great stress-reliever (which we could all use a lot more of) and a fun way to take a break from the library. And with so many different workout programs to choose from, you will never get bored! Try a yoga or Zumba class at the Miller Center; go for a walk/run through Reynolda Gardens with a friend; join an intramural team (intertube water polo anyone?); or just take 30 minutes to hop on the elliptical with a magazine and your favorite iPod playlist. The options are endless.
Try to schedule regular meal times. Sounds crazy, right? But eating around the same times every day increases your metabolism and can help prevent over-eating, meal-skipping, and poor food choices. Also, make sure you have a balanced plate at every meal: protein, complex carb, and lots of produce (fruits and vegetables). The Pit has a lot of great options, but don’t forget about the other campus dining options: the Benson food court (including the new salad bar!), the Mag Room, Subway, and Shorty’s. Each location offers a wide variety of healthy, well-balanced choices.
Sleep. But really. Late nights and early mornings are no anomaly on college campuses, but sleep is just as (if not more) important as cramming for that biology exam. Ideally, students should shoot for 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Just like you did with your mealtimes, try to schedule your sleeping hours. For instance, always make yourself go to sleep by 1 AM at the latest, and wake up by 7 or 8 (for class or to finish up whatever work you couldn’t finish the night before). Sleeping in on the weekends will help you catch up on any missed sleep from the week, but it can also disrupt your sleep cycle, so sleeping till noon each Saturday and Sunday afternoon isn’t such a great idea.
Notice that none of these tips requires a personal journal, weekly tracker, or scale. That’s because these are guidelines that you should use to make the best of the spring semester. Setting realistic goals, especially when it comes to your physical and mental health, makes it easier to stick with it and stay successful all year round!
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