Realistic New Year’s Resolutions for the Busy College Student
After a year plagued by the ongoing pandemic and never-ending variants, we need to be kinder to ourselves–and more realistic–when writing our New Year’s resolutions for 2022. Here are a handful of simple goals for college students that are much more specific and realistic than “travel more” or “be healthier.”
Take the stairs
Between the gym, intramural sports, and outdoor fields and courts, there are plenty of ways to stay active without having to leave campus. One of the easiest ways to incorporate exercise into the busy college lifestyle is choosing to take the stairs to class. We are all familiar with the temptation to ride the elevator up to the academic quad, especially on a hilly campus like Bentley’s with the infamous Smith stairs. (Seriously, I never knew stairs could be so painful.) However, making this tiny change in your routine will boost both your physical and mental health. In addition to strengthening your body, regular exercise will improve your mood when midterm season rolls around and sharpen your memory to help you master those accounting concepts. Even if your class is at 8am on a Monday morning on the opposite side of campus (a terrible thing), try your best to take the stairs. After all, you have to get to class anyway–you might burn some calories on the way. Try it for a few days, and you’ll be surprised how quickly a simple switch in routine can transform into a permanent habit.
create a study schedule
When it comes to college-level courses, scoring high requires more than just solid notes and preparation. Behind every A is a carefully crafted study schedule. This past semester, I earned four As and one B in my five courses, most of which were business-related. While this is not as commendable as earning straight As, I would not have achieved these results without my rigid schedule guiding my actions all semester. In my digital calendar, I blocked out specific times in the morning and afternoon every weekday strictly for studying, which helped me get into the study habit and enjoy my weekends more. When you choose to head to the library instead of your dorm during the hidden hours between classes, you’ll be surprised how much work you can extract from a single sitting, even if the sitting is short. However you plan your study time, it is absolutely critical that you stick to a regular schedule. I simply cannot start my day without my calendar guiding me. Remember, it is much easier to go through the motions than to set the motions everyday. Your future self will thank you when you inevitably run low on motivation (and sleep) halfway through the semester.
get your 8 hours
I think most of us can agree that there is no sound worse than the dreaded alarm on our phones. To be honest, I can’t remember one morning during this past semester when I woke up feeling refreshed and well-rested. As a night owl at heart, I have developed the bad habit of staying up as late as 2 or 3am scrolling on social media, shuffling my Spotify playlists, or binge-watching my favorite shows and YouTube channels. Unsurprisingly, it feels impossible for my brain to shut off and enter sleep mode at night, and I envy those who can drift off to sleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. But don’t get me wrong—I know how important sleep is and the immense benefits the right amount of shuteye can bring. With enough practice and commitment, I know I can build a healthier routine and get my much-needed 8 hours of sleep every night. As we enter a brand new year, right now is the perfect time to start fresh and restore your sleep schedule, once and for all. With 8am classes starting back up in a few weeks, building a healthier routine now will help you transition smoothly into the spring semester.
Reduce your mindless scrolling
It’s a fact: college can be overwhelming. You don’t need the pressure and expectations of social media adding to that. When you can, try your best to unplug from the world of Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, or whatever app is stealing your precious time, headspace, and cell phone battery. You can be ambitious and do a complete detox for a month or longer, or simply place time limits on certain addictive apps. For example, you could start by limiting yourself to no more than 15 minutes on Instagram per day. Easy enough, right? One strategy I have used to reduce my social media use is deleting the Instagram app from my phone. In doing so, installing Instagram again becomes a barrier between me and the algorithm that is not worth my time breaking to quickly check my feed. I also like to use the SelfControl app on my Mac to temporarily block access to social media websites. These barriers, not to mention the unflattering UI/UX design of Instagram on the web, makes endless scrolling much less appealing.
Practice saying no
Every college student is well-acquainted with the critical skill of time management (or at least trying to be). Between classes, homework, student organizations, and internships, it can feel impossible to find any “free time” in your schedule, so it is important that you spend (and budget) your time wisely. At some point, everyone has had the experience of partying or going out on a weekday because your roommate insisted that you come and that you can study for your exam later, only to come back exhausted much later than expected, barely able to stay awake at your desk. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t get me wrong–your friends probably mean no harm, and there is a time and place for having fun, but if you say yes in this scenario, you are sacrificing precious study time that you won’t get back. Learning to say no applies for any situation, but is especially necessary when making decisions that would sacrifice your grades or mental health. There will be times when you get “FOMO” seeing your friends partying on social media when you’re deep in study mode in the library, but when the exam results are released, the scores will speak for themselves.
Stay spiritually active
If you consider yourself to be a religious or spiritual person, this one’s for you. In the stress-induced, caffeine-filled, chaotic blur that is midterms or finals season, it is tempting to put our spiritual lives on the back burner until all exams, papers, and projects are turned in. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I am definitely guilty of this. But for the other eight or so weeks of the semester, commit to carving out time in your busy schedule for a spiritual activity, whether it be attending church service every Sunday or starting each morning with meditation. Personally, if I didn’t have church or Christian fellowship as my spiritual anchor every week, I would be infinitely more stressed, isolated, and more than anything, spiritually dry. If you consider this area of your life remotely important, then make an effort to schedule it on your calendar, wake up a little earlier, and drive or carpool to church. At the very least, attend service virtually. Nothing refreshes me after an exhausting week like a good sermon and a worship session.
I hope these ideas inspire you to change your habits this year. Remember, these are only brief descriptions of my suggestions. It is important to set your own SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound) to become your own boss in 2022. Most importantly, wear your mask, stay safe, and be extra kind to yourself this year.
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