A new school year is upon us – or nearly so. And like New Year’s Day, the recommencement of school gives us the opportunity to start fresh – again. We pledge to be more attentive, get better grades, work harder…you know the drill. More time with books, less with Frisbees; more sleep, fewer all-nighters, more green tea, less Red Bull…
But even the best laid plans can be easily mislaid without a little bit of attention to your health. ‘Back to school’ and ‘health focus’ are not often good bed fellows. In fact, the standard collegiate fare of junk food and sleep deprivation are fodder for bad grades and broken resolutions. Here are a few simple ideas for keeping some of your resolve:
Keep it Real
It is wonderful to shoot for the stars. That kind of exuberance is a great motivator, but do temper your exuberance with some realism. Make your goals attainable – or almost attainable. Instead of writing the great American novel, start with a term paper, or a blog post. Instead of running a marathon, start with a 5K.
Keep an Open Mind
Focus on learning. We know you’re in school, but even as you study business management or art history, take a moment to learn a little bit about yourself. Learn how to read food labels, learn how your body responds to different stimuli (ie: Frosted Lucky Charms vs. Green Smoothies). When are you at your sharpest? Learn to know when to take a break or a brisk walk. You are your own best advocate. Learn to be good at this job.
Make Friends with the Clock
Time management sounds so boring! But learn to manage your time and you’ll be free to enjoy more of it! A healthy lifestyle and a term paper both take time. Give yourself a little bit extra time to do what needs to be done (this might mean dumbing down your smart phone or forgoing Facebook). Time exists in order to prevent everything from happening simultaneously, right? With a little bit of planning, you can use this creation of space to your advantage.
Your brain is made up of 75-85% water. Keep it hydrated. “Not drinking enough water can have an adverse affect on your brain, and learning. When your brain lacks water, brain cells and other neurons shrink and biochemical processes involved in cellular communication slow. A drop in as little as 1 – 2% of fluid levels can result in slower processing speeds, impaired short-term memory, trouble with math, difficulty focusing on a computer screen or textbook page, and deficits in attention.” (http://www.pathfindersforautism.org/articles/view/hydration-and-learning-fact-sheet#sthash.A0r8SbBq.dpuf)
Good luck. And welcome back.