Updated: Sep 7, 2019
Get your #tbt’s and #takemeback posts ready, because summer is officially a thing of the past as most schools have welcomed back their students with open arms for another semester. When I was studying for my undergrad, trading in those long summer nights by the lake or the pool for late night cram study sessions and 8 AM classes that seemed like a good idea at the end of the spring semester always hit me hard. I always had a difficult time transitioning back to school mode. Here are some easy tips that I found helpful that you can integrate into your routine to have a successful semester.
1: Just breathe…..
Back to school season is a stressful time for many reasons; new routines, new schedules, balancing work, school and play, and lets not forget that we’re all *broke* college students Luckily, it is to our advantage that we come physiologically hardwired with one of the most effective stress relief techniques out there; breath work. Multiple studies have shown that manipulating our breath can decrease stress and anxiety dramatically. Now you don’t necessarily need to crack out the incense and dive into a 2 hour long meditation, but even setting aside just 5 to 10 minutes of time to be present with your breathing can send messages to the brain to relax, reduce tension and relieve stress. That still too long? The next time you’re walking to class, take the time to feel the breath come into your lungs through your inhale, and as it flows out of your nose on the exhale. This quick and easy mindful practice sends a message to the brain to relax, and in response the body naturally...well... relaxes. That small gesture in and of itself is meditation! You’ve just trained your attention and awareness. I suffer from anxiety attacks quite frequently, and one of my favorite apps that helps me focus on my breathing is the Insight timer mediation app. With tons of free guided mediations, music tracks and ambient sounds, it’s a great companion for those upcoming long study sessions.
2: Save time and money in the AM--- make your own coffee!
If you’re anything like me, you are not functional before you have your daily caffeine fix. On average, according to a study conducted by the National Coffee association, 64% of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee or caffeinated beverage a day. It doesn’t seem like a lot at the time, a large Caramel swirl iced coffee from Dunkin here, a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks there; but those few dollars add up quite quickly. Nancy Fellinger, a certified financial planner ran some estimates on the cost of a $3-a-day coffee habit. "Assuming that scenario, that’s $21.00 a week or $1,092 a year. Could you use an extra thousand dollars a year? I know I could; that’s why I invested in a good old coffee machine, and started making my own! Part of my nightly routine involves getting my coffee ready for the next morning, especially if I had to get up early for those dreaded 8 ams. Want an iced coffee but don’t want that watered down coffee taste? Skip the ice cubes and freeze some brewed coffee in some reusable ice cube trays! Incorporate a cute reusable cup to reduce the amount of coffee cups ending up in the trash.
3: BEDS ARE FOR SLEEPING!
This one sounds a bit silly, but it truly made quite a difference in my college career. Everyone loves their bed, and with cramped dorm room living, the bed can easily become multifunctional. It’s no surprise to anyone that the human body requires around 7-8 hours of sleep per night to properly function, but by using the place for sleep for other functions, such as homework, sitting up and watching netflix or eating, confusion can occur within your body, resulting in sleeping difficulties. Your body and mind should recognize your bedroom (or at least your bed if you’re in the dorms) as a place of rest. Utilize quiet spaces such as the library or study rooms to get homework done, and avoid eating meals in your place of rest. Also,(and we’re all guilty on this one) avoid using your phone in bed right before you go to sleep. Artificial lights from electronic devices suppresses the release of meletonin within the body, which is the hormone responsible for the body’s natural circadian rhythms.
4: Let me check my calendar…
One of the hardest things for me to get used to when I came to college, was scheduling and keeping myself organized. I used to be the type of person who could just remember everything when it needed to get done, but once I hit college and began the ever-lasting juggling act of classes, extra-curriculums and work, I really had to take advantage of my planners and calendars. There are many different types of planners or scheduling calendars out there; you just have to find the one that works best for you. Start by writing out when your assignments are due, and then schedule time to work on them to keep yourself accountable and to avoid the late night study cram sessions. Try linking your calendar to your phone to give you updates on when to do things and hand things in, then try integrating your other aspects of life into the schedule; such as free time or work schedules. If you like a physical calendar, find a cute customizable planner that fits your likings and keep it with you along with your books. This simple organizational trick can help keep your life easier and more organized.
I hope you enjoyed these quick and easy tips and that you find at least one of them helpful for the upcoming semester. Starting the semester off strong with healthy and useful habits is the best way to ensure a successful term! Enjoy!