With the New Year in full blossom I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on some important lessons I learned this semester. In past years, I’ve been so caught up in making New Year’s resolutions that I failed to reflect on my own past behaviors and habits. So this year I’ve decided to look back on lessons I have learned this semester so I can avoid making the same mistakes in the New Year.
1) Pulling an all-nighter is NOT a good idea
In college all-nighters are not uncommon. We save our 12 page paper until the night before it’s due and pull an all-nighter to finish it. After all it’s worth it if we can get an A on our paper, right? However, I can honestly say that not one all-nighter I pulled this year was worth the stress, fatigue, and sickness that resulted from depriving my body of necessary sleep. If I could have done it over again, I would have (a) planned ahead for big assignments, (b) prioritized and managed my time more wisely, (c) utilized mornings and weekends to get work done more efficiently, and (d) kept a better perspective on my priorities (AKA my overall health). In hindsight, I realize neglecting my sleep and sacrificing my own health and well-being was not worth the higher grade. Going into to next semester, I intend to make sleep one of my highest priorities because without sleep I know that it is impossible for me to be my best self.
2) Partying is fun when you know your limitations
“Work hard, party hard” the college saying goes. After a long week of studying in the library, it’s tempting to blow off stress by drinking. To some of us, drinking seems like the Holy Grail for letting loose and having a good time. What I have found ,however, is that after the initial euphoria of drinking wears off I usually feel more sluggish and stressed because I am less functional the next day. When I look back at my most relaxing and fun moments, I realize they came from hanging out with people who made me feel good and doing activities I enjoyed. I now try to set myself a limit on how much alcohol I will consume in one night. I realize that when I have just one glass of wine I have the same amount of fun as when I drink two or three glasses.
3) There are better ways of coping with stress than eating sugar
When life seems stressful, sometimes it feels like the best way to forget about our struggles is by overindulging in sweets. When I feel overwhelmed or upset by stresses in my life, I tend to go straight to the freezer for ice cream. While the first few bites of sugar always taste heavenly, I have found that overeating sugar usually leaves me feeling upset and exhausted. Recent studies have shown that overeating sugar can impair concentration, serotonin producing chemicals, and immunity from nasty diseases. So for the year of 2013, I am making a pact for myself to be more mindful about the sugar I consume and find more productive and healthy ways to relieve stress from school and work.
4) Know your limitations
In college and life in general we are confronted with situations that encourage us to test our limits. We live in a competitive society where we have come to believe that the harder we work the happier and more successful we will be. While, this mentality can lead to success, I’ve learned that it can also be dangerous if we push too hard. I find that in school I tend to overwork myself to the point of exhaustion and poor health. I spent the first five days of my winter break lying in my bed sick as a dog. Why? Because I did not set boundaries for myself on how much work was healthy for my body and overall well being. In the future, rather than comparing myself to others, I intend to pay more attention to what behaviors and attitudes are best for my own health.
5) Being busy is not an excuse to neglect important relationships
When we’re super busy it’s tempting to put our relationships on the back burner. In the moment it seems like studying for that big exam is more important than calling our parents or keeping in touch with our friends. This semester I was so caught up with my school work that I would go weeks without calling my parents. It took until my mother had to go to the hospital for internal bleeding while I was at college for me to realize how important it was for me to nurture the important relationships in my life. Fortunately, she ended up being okay, but the situation will always be a reminder to me that I should not take the people I love in my life for granted.
The exciting thing about the New Year is that we get a clean slate, another chance at repairing the mistakes we made the year before. In reflecting on what we have learned from the past, we set ourselves up for a better year ahead. And I don’t know about you, but I have a really good feeling about the year 2013.
picture from- http://effondrement.tumblr.com/page/
Labels: balance for college students, coping with stress, importance of sleep, lifestyle, new years resolution, sustainable and healthy lifestyle, wellness