The start of school can be an exciting time for some and an anxious time for others. The exciting category can involve seeing all of your friends again after a summer apart, while the anxious category can involve numerous quizzes and deadlines that are extremely overwhelming.
Either way, classes and clubs starting again can involve a lot and can take even more from you, which is why it’s crucial to take care of yourself. You might read this, laugh, and think to yourself “I definitely don’t have time for that,” and frankly, I wouldn’t blame you. I, too, have echoed your same thoughts, wondering how I would possibly be able to put myself first if I wanted to excel in school as well.
But I promise you, there is a sustainable way to take care of yourself and your grades. That’s why I’m writing this article–because I know I need it too.
Eat well and eat often
This might sound like a no-brainer, but from personal experience, I have realized that while prioritizing other things like academics and clubs, food sometimes gets left behind. Make sure to start your day off with a filling breakfast, so that even if your schedule throughout the day is packed, you’ll be able to sustain yourself and keep up your energy for longer.
Also, keep snacks like granola bars and fruit in your bag so you’ll always have them in a pinch! If your body is running on empty while trekking up those Berkeley hills, I promise you’ll regret it, because I certainly have!
You’re going to hate me for this one but: meditate
I know, I know, everyone and their mom says to do this. Well, maybe not my mom, because she’s more focused on me answering her in the family group chat, but the point still stands. Whenever people gave me this advice before, I shrugged it off because I didn’t have time and had an overactive mind, which is a deadly combination for meditation.
However, in one of my classes, the professor starts with a meditation session for around five minutes, and even something as little as that has helped me relax. As college students, we’re always running around–-or scootering for those of you who like to fly past us when we’re out of breath–-but stopping and breathing for just a few minutes can help you reframe your thoughts and quiet down your mind. It’s a chance to pause and live in the present moment, something I feel we don’t do enough.
Set aside time to do something you like for at least thirty minutes daily
At first, this may seem like a substantial chunk of time you cannot allocate, so you can start with fifteen minutes if you like. Whether it’s drawing, reading, journaling, running, or watching a TV show, you’re dedicating time to do something that you enjoy and which is important to you. We often leave behind our hobbies, and subsequently, pieces of ourselves when we sell our souls to academics.
But not only does it not have to be this way, but it also shouldn’t be in the first place! College is a time for us to find ourselves and part of that means lending time to our passions and interests. It can be difficult to prioritize what you enjoy, but don’t feel guilty about pouring time into something that makes you happy!
Finally, make sure you’re following your body clock.
Now, by this, I don’t mean sleeping eight hours or more because as a fellow college student, I’m well aware that is impossible. Instead, I mean that even if you’re sleeping 5-6 hours, be sure to use a website like “Sleep Calculator” that tells you the optimal time to wake up if you’re going to sleep now, or vice versa. This will ensure that you wake up feeling rested, no matter how many hours of sleep you had, which is super handy as a college student encountering late nights and early mornings!
I hope that these serve as helpful tips for you to incorporate into your daily life as a Cal student and, even if you can’t practice all of them, my wish is that you’re able to incorporate some of them into your routine. The key to having a healthy balance in your life (60/40 maybe?) is not doing everything at once, but instead embracing small, attainable changes that, in the long run, will make a large impact on your mental health, well-being and quality of life.