Something I always look forward to are my new semester resolutions. I feel like the end of summer in the most reflective time of my life. I don’t really get New Year resolutions. It’s always the same interchangeable goals every year and I, for one, never keep up with them. I think it’s hard to stick with a new lifestyle choice in the middle of winter. But maybe that’s just me.
So here are 10 must-dos for a successful semester – and new school year- for me and for all the rest of you who’d like a fresh start.
1) Get More Sleep
This is a big one for me. I never get enough sleep. And my focus in my Tuesday 8 a.m. class always suffers for it. After a few years of experimentation, I’ve discovered that my body needs at least nine hours to feel fully rested. That means most school nights, I would have to fall asleep at ten o’clock to get a good night’s rest. And in a dorm, that is next to impossible. I get it. But here’s to doing our best!
My suggestion is to figure out exactly how much sleep you need to feel completely rested, and then have a little talk with your roommates. Ask them to help you unwind and unplug an hour before the allotted sleep time, whether that means everyone shuts off Netflix at nine o’clock, or just remind you that Tumblr will still exist tomorrow morning. Ask that they respect your new sleep routine. If you have a support system behind you and you determine bedtime rules ahead of time, you’ll be on your perfect sleep schedule in no time.
2) Read More
I am a speech-language pathology major, so I know my stuff when I say that READING IS SO GOOD FOR YOU. It’s good for you mentally, emotionally, socially, and even physically. I’m totally serious. Look it up. It’s science.
I understand all the reading you have to do for class. I get it. I took my treatment ethics class and anatomy and physiology of the speech mechanism and a humanities class all in the same semester. Trust me when I say I feel your pain. But I want you to go out and find something you really LOVE to read. It could be a blog, or a comic book series, or poetry, or a book of short stories. Just find something that isn’t altogether too time consuming and enjoyable and just read it. For ten minutes. That’s all I ask. Just ten minutes. (And if you need a recommendation for any of the aforementioned literature genres, please do not hesitate to ask, for I have an arsenal of suggestions in my brain.)
This doesn’t have to include yoga (although yoga is bomb and so good for you) and it doesn’t have to include anything spiritual. All this would entail is taking a few moments of silence once a day to focus on breathing and reflecting on what you are thankful for. That could mean praying, but that could also mean just thinking about the things and the people you love the most. We could all use a little more gratitude in our lives, don’t you think? And the more you think about what makes you happy, the happier you will become. Instant mood booster!
4) Ask More Questions
I am always afraid of asking questions. I just never want to look silly in front of my teacher or my friends or even the cute boy who works in the library. But y’know what? Screw it. Ask about the homework if you don’t understand. Ask what your new friends are planning for this weekend. Ask that cute boy to get a cup of coffee with you. Why waste your time worrying over what you don’t know? The initial feeling of silliness and embarrassment will fade quickly, but the regret of letting pride get in the way of experience won’t go away so easily. So just ask.
5) Be more active
By the middle of the semester, I find it is much easier to fall into the routine of waking up, going to class, doing homework, eating somewhere in the mix of it, and then going to bed. I call this, the School Slump. And it is the devil. But how can we fix this never-ending cycle of fatigue, boredom, and that terrible bloated feeling after you eat dining hall pizza? By… Can I get a drumroll? …Exercising! Woo hoo!
Okay. I know. It’s hard to fit it in your schedule and you hate being sweaty and exercise is just the worst. I get it. But here is my solution: Just find something, anything, that gets your heart rate up that you love and just hash it out for twenty minutes a day. You like dancing? Put on your favorite playlist and go crazy. Like yoga? Look up some videos on YouTube and get the juices flowing! Ride a bike! Take a walk with a buddy! Anything! Just for twenty minutes! The exercise will release endorphins that put you in a better mood, and your digestive tract (not to mention your tummy pooch) will thank you if you just get up and move everyday!
6) Smile more
Just do it. It’ll make you feel better, and you never know who’ll need to see it.
7) Drink more water
Hydrating is so important. It energizes you in the morning and helps you lose weight and it gives you glowing skin! If you need to, get one of those nifty bottles that you fill up twice a day and measure just how much you need to drink. I think those are awesome.
8) Make time for friends
It’s easy to let some friendships fall through the cracks when you stop having classes or living across the hall from certain friends. All of a sudden, your Spanish study buddy is no longer taking Spanish with you, and you don’t see him anymore. If that is not something you want to happen, do something about it! Ask your friends to coffee or invite them over to watch a movie! It doesn’t take much to keep a friendship alive, and it means a lot to your friends when you show that you are thinking about them.
9) Less Social Media
I love Twitter and tumblr as much as the next quirky Mae Whitman wannabe (she’s the bomb), but I know there are times I need a break. When I find myself comparing my body or hair or make up to the perfect models I see online, or when I realize that I’m not being present around the people I care about, I know I need a bit of a detox. If you find yourself thinking more about the likes on your Insta-selfie than the story your best friend just told you, maybe you should consider taking a break as well.
10) Love yourself more
This final resolution is THE most important. I want you to think about five things you love about yourself. And then I want you to do what it takes to highlight those things. Is it your eyes? Then put on some eye shadow that makes them pop! Is it your sense of humor? Then impress that cute boy or girl with the killer smile and give them something to smile at! Take chances, treat yourself, and never compare yourself to anyone else. You are a goddamn masterpiece and no one could ever replace the impact that you’ve had on the people who love you. So treat yourself like the priceless treasure you are, put on your favorite outfit, eat that ice cream cone, and ask that cutie to get lunch with you, because you are worth it!
Alison is a student at Geneva College.