Six Tips for Going Back to School
It is that time of year again… when everything starts back up and the relaxed days of summer are rapidly becoming a distant memory. As our routines change and responsibilities and deadlines begin to take over our schedules, it is more important than ever to take good care of our health, both mental and physical. Here are six tips to start doing NOW so that the transition back into school is as seamless as possible, and your fall semester as enjoyable as ever!
1. Make a schedule, and stick to it. Aside from obvious things on a schedule like classes, work, group projects, and appointments, be sure to include chunks of time set aside for homework, or research for a paper, exercising, time with friends or family, religious or spiritual practices, and plain old down time. Sticking to a schedule helps avoid feelings of being scattered and overwhelmed, helps avoid procrastination, and allows you to continue to value things that are fun and relaxing. Even scheduling the time you wake up and go to sleep could help make your days flow with more ease! Which brings us to…
2. Get enough sleep. Sleep is paramount to feeling mentally and physically well. It improves memory, helps to fight off disease, builds creativity, allows for a greater attention span, decreases feelings of stress and anxiety, and contributes to a healthy body weight. Adults should aim for between 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. To better sleep habits it’s important to try and wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day (even on weekends!), avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and turn off electronics an hour or more before bedtime. The last habit can be a challenge in today’s technological world, but functioning properly the next day with inadequate sleep is even more so!
3. Eat right. Having the proper nutrition can be difficult, especially if a student lives in a dorm room with a small fridge and a microwave as a kitchen, and is busy with papers, projects, homework, and tests. Eating something healthy is the last thing on the brain. But the brain will work a lot more efficiently if it is fed the right stuff. Even if eating right only means having one piece of fruit and one serving of veggies a day, it’s a start. There are countless website and cheap cookbooks that explain how to make edible food that is also quick and healthy. When we eat well, we feel well. When we feel well, we act and do well.
4. Ask for help when you need it. So many of us want to be able to do it all! Especially in the beginning of a semester, we have high hopes for ourselves; which can just turn into placing extra pressure on ourselves. Checking out the writing center, getting a tutor, hooking up with your Office of Accessibility, or speaking with a teacher or professor during their office hours are all right actions to take. If you feel uneasy about a topic, or if you don’t understand something, speak up as soon as you're feeling that way! Be sure to read your school’s students handbook, which tends to list and explain the various supports offered to you. These people and programs are at your school to help you succeed. Give them the opportunity to do their jobs!
5. Stay Connected. Everyone needs a support system. Be sure to keep in regular touch with people who are important to you, whether that be your parents, siblings, partner, other family members, and friends. Be sure to stay in regular touch with your psychiatrist and therapist if you have them as well. No one succeeds without having trusted and loved people to lean on when things are tough. Having strong relationships with others also contributes to a happier and healthier life… And that helps anyone who is going back to school.
6. Have fun. School, especially higher education, should be a lot of hard work, but it should also be fun. No one succeeds by spending hours and hours in the library or at home studying and researching. We need to take breaks and relax. Be sure to exercise your creative muscles, and get out there and meet people. Whether you play an instrument, enjoy drawing or painting, or have an interest in a sport, craft, or hobby, include that into your life. Join a club, go to a party, meet up with a classmate for lunch. Schools are wonderful places not only for networking, but for making lifelong friends and connections. Get involved to get the most out of your educational experience!