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8 Daily Habits to Pick up This Semester

Every semester, we set goals for ourselves; don’t go on Facebook in class, don’t go out on weeknights, go to the gym every morning at 5:00AM (when you know perfectly well that you’ve never willingly been out of bed before 8:00 am.) Usually, we forget about them the second our coursework gets hard.

Whether you pick up one of these habits or them all, these are simple, easy to establish habits that will make a profound impact on your daily life.

1. Drink Water 

We all know the classic 8-ounce rule, but in reality, we should be drinking somewhere between half an ounce and an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. Drinking more throughout the day regulates your metabolism, fights fatigue, clarifies waste in your body and combats those impossible to cover dark circles under your eyes. This semester, make an effort to carry a water bottle around in your purse (I use a bottle with a Brita filter because D.C. tap water is nasty,)

2. Get Into a Realistic Exercise Routine

If you can’t stick to your exercise schedule, maybe that means you have to make adjustments. Maybe go to the gym in the morning instead of night. Maybe start doing yoga instead, or use your gym membership to attend fun classes like cycling and Zumba. Maybe just make a point to go on a walk to campus instead of calling an uber. Pick something that brings you joy and makes you want to continue, because if you keep trying to force yourself to form habits you know you can’t sustain, you are setting yourself up for failure.

3. Be Grateful

Gratitude can have a deep, sincere impact on your life. Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude on a daily– or even weekly– basis are happier and more optimistic than people who don’t. Try writing down five things to be grateful for every morning to start your day on a positive note.

4. Meditate 

Scientifically, daily meditation increases immune functions and decreases pain. It boosts happiness, enhances positive emotions, fights depression, decreases anxiety, stress and feelings of loneliness, improves self-control, introspection, focus and memory, and it makes you more compassionate and creative. The list  goes on and on, and all it takes is 10 minutes of quiet meditation each day. Check out the Headspace app, which offers 10 free 10-minute guided meditation sessions to get you started.

5. Take a Little Time for Yourself in the Mornings  

Take time out of your morning to set yourself up for the day ahead.  Write gratitudes, meditate, read a book while sipping your coffee, do yoga, read the newspaper, listen to a podcast– use that time to do something for yourself. You may need to wake up 15 minutes earlier, but taking that time decreases stress and gives you the sense that you have control over your day. 

6. Get Off Your Phone and Be More Present 

At some point, we’ve all become so busy that we’ve stopped paying attention to everything going on around us. It’s not good enough to just stand in line anymore; we have to be on our phones. We can’t fold the laundry without having Netflix on in the background, and we can’t walk anywhere without headphones blaring music into our ears. We’ve become so detached with reality. Make a conscious effort to be present this semester. Ask any senior—college really does fly by.

7. Set Realistic Goals 

Feel free to hold on to your lengthy to-do list, but be realistic about your expectations. Choice your top three most important tasks of the day and do them as soon as you can. By accomplishing these tasks in the morning, you’re ensuring their completion by giving yourself enough time to have mini-emergencies along the way. Little tasks are easier to do when you have free moments throughout the day, so don’t waste precious time worrying about them when you have bigger things on your plate. Plus, if you do nothing else afterward, you’ve still had a productive day.

8. Cut Down on the Netflix 

This is an obvious one, but watching TV takes enormous amounts of time out of your day. Even if you “just have it on in the background,” the distracting noises and lights are sure to impede your productivity by taking your attention away from the tasks at hand. Try to replace the time you would have normally spent in front of the television with other entertaining but beneficial tasks.

    Fall 2017 is going to be a great one. Let’s make the most of it. 

    Cover Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

    Elyse is currently a senior at American University studying foreign language and communications with a focus in Spanish and print journalism. She is originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania and in her spare time she likes to do yoga, read, and binge-watch Netflix when she's supposed to be studying.
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