Getting in the groove of your first semester can feel a lot like juggling – but it’s important to remember that it’s all about striving for balance. While that may feel impossible at times, there are a few things that can help you create balance in your life. In this article, we’ll go over some tips and reminders for staying organized academically, exercising right, eating well and getting connected with other students on campus. (Yes, your professors do want you to have a social life!)
As we get started in our fall semester, it’s important that you set yourself up for success! Check out these simple tips below that can help make a big difference in your organization:
1. Get a Planner
Once you find a planner that you like, taking time to sit down and go through each of your classes’ assignments and exams from the syllabus will pay off big time later on. Putting all of these in your planner will reduce your stress, remind you of due dates, and help you prioritize your exams and assignments. It’ll even help you get started early on assignments so you’re not overwhelmed or waiting until the last minute.
2. Organize Your Digital Files and Notes
With digital class tools taking over – especially with online class formats due to COVID-19 – things can get cluttered quickly on your desktop or your files. Find a place that works for you to keep track of your assignments and files. Typically, students like to make designated folders on their desktop or in their Google Drive.
3. Learn How To Make To-Do Lists
Each morning or night before your busy days, take a couple of minutes and make a to-do list for yourself. This will help you prioritize your work schedule for the day, and help you carve out time for yourself to take a break, too! Because yes, there’s time to work out and get food with friends – sometimes when we feel overwhelmed, we don’t realize how scheduling our time can make everything that much more manageable.
4. Set Reminders on Your Phone
If you don’t find yourself sticking to your schedule or planner, try using reminders on your phone, laptop or iCalendar. These reminders will give you alerts to hold yourself accountable, remind yourself of class times and organize what you need to get done during the day.
Exercise and Nutrition
Exercise and nutrition are both key aspects in a pursuit to find a balanced healthy lifestyle. Oftentimes when we’re stressed, we let our eating or exercising habits take an unhealthy turn – or on the other hand, when taken to an extreme, even healthy behavior can become harmful.
The general recommendation for getting enough exercise is at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week; many people choose to do a mix of these and combine it with strength and flexibility training. Now not every week will be perfect, but keeping these numbers in mind and carving out a little bit of time to exercise each day will give you a mental break and keep you feeling good. And there’s a variety of ways to exercise – kick a soccer ball around with friends, or go on a walk and listen to a podcast! One way to keep yourself motivated is finding different activities that are a good fit for YOU.
On the opposite end of things, if someone starts to prioritize exercise first in life rather than being included in a balanced lifestyle, it becomes harmful rather than helpful. Common indicators include: continuing to exercise when injured or sick, avoiding social functions to exercise, firmly adhering to an obsessive and regimented exercise plan, multiple exercise sessions in one day, or exercise that leaves you exhausted rather than energized.
Moving on to nutrition – maintaining proper nutrition is an important component of living a nourished life. Most medical practitioners and nutritionists agree that the best way to eat healthy is to maintain a well-balanced diet. A balanced diet will give you the proper building blocks that your body needs to get through the day.
The various benefits of a healthy diet include:
- Feeling more energized and refreshed
- Being more focused
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Having an increased resistance to certain illnesses and diseases
The last thing to remember when balancing your busy schedule is to make time for developing social connections and spending time with friends. There is a direct connection between social isolation, loneliness and a potential downward spiral towards poor health. Isolation can lead to:
- Dramatic increases in the stress hormone cortisol
- Hardening of arteries that leads to high blood pressure
- Inflammation in the body
- Diminished executive function, learning and memory
If this is something that you’re struggling to balance in your life, here are some small steps to increase your social connections:
- Take time to look others in the eye when asking questions such as, “how are you?” Sometimes the small, kind gestures can have the biggest impact.
- Thank someone that you work with, and take the opportunity to let them know that you really mean it.
- Let someone know that you recognize the extra effort they are putting forth.
There are also a number of ways to increase social connection on campus. Get involved!