With the 2015-2016 school year upon us, it’s time to move past the late summer blues and look forward to a successful Fall semester. Say goodbye to momma’s cooking — say hello to student dining and the microwave. Say farewell to the sound of waves crashing on the beach — say good morning to your alarm clock screaming that chemistry lab starts in 20 minutes. Say bon voyage to Netflix binging – say good day to hours in the library. Yes, the transition from summer back to school can certainly be exciting, but without proper self-care you could be setting yourself up for disaster.
As a student at the University of Maryland, I’m constantly searching for ways to ease the transition back to school. Grades are important, but so is my health – it’s important to find a balance between the two. Stress can affect my grades, but it can be combatted by self-care. Here are my five self-care tips for you to try this school year:
1. Schedule Your Life. At the beginning of every week, plan out each day of that week. Start with classes and any other reoccurring school or work responsibilities. Check your calendar and add any events or meetings to attend that week. Add daily study time to your schedule – I call this “library time”. I like to organize and prioritize school work by writing exactly what to do during “library time” in accordance with due dates. Avoiding procrastination is crucial to a stress-free semester.
2. Find YOU Time. Find the gaps in your schedule where you can reserve time for YOU. Going to the gym, hanging out with friends, going to the movies, taking a stroll around the local park, playing a round of golf – these are all YOU time. I call it the “reset button” because it allows you to clear your mind of worries and keep stress from building.
3. Find Your Workout Buddy. Joyful movement can act as a great stress-reliever. Find a friend with a similar schedule as you and make a commitment to joyful movement 3-4 times a week. For me, finding a buddy last semester was huge. I hate letting friends down, so that commitment alone was enough to keep me moving every week.
4. Sleep: The X-Factor. I find that sleep may be the most important self-care objective during the school year. Pulling all-nighters affects your concentration, hurts your working memory, makes you hungrier during the day, and can cause depression. Make sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. If you are not able to sleep more than 7 hours one day, schedule an hour nap.
5. Eat Regularly. In addition to picking nutritious options, it is also important to eat regularly and never skip out on breakfast. Skipping meals can have you feeling hungry late at night and this leads to over-eating. Eating many small meals is much better for the metabolism than one or two large meals.
As the new school year begins, practice these self-care tips for a stress-free, healthful semester. Everyone is different so put your own spin on them if you see fit. If you find yourself in a rut you can always book an appointment with one of our experienced Register Dietitians who will certainly get you back on track!
Contributions from Doug Kerr, Nutrition Intern.