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Shifting Your Brain & Habits Into School Mode

With the leaves turning and the winds shifting, fall is just around the corner, coinciding with the start of the school year. Let’s get your brain ready for that shift!


I mean this both materially and digitally. Set aside anywhere from a couple hours to a day, depending on how much of a clutter-bug you are, and devote the time to minimize the excess around you. Get rid of clothes you don’t wear, any trash or debris that is lying around, and anything in your space that you find distracting or unsettling. In addition, go through your digital clutter like old schoolwork, emails, and any articles or bookmarks that you no longer need. You’ll feel a weight lifted almost immediately and can refocus on the semester ahead.

Eat right:

I am super guilty of being a junk food addict during the summer, but for the school year I work really hard to limit that. Focus on eating well balanced meals with protein, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fats. A great meal could look like avocado toast with eggs and a cup of fruit, or try spaghetti noodles with shrimp and asparagus dressed with some olive oil and Italian herbs. For the caffeine addicts, do not fret! Caffeine, in moderation, is part of a well balanced diet! Check out a list of recipes here.

Establish a sleep schedule:

Everyone operates best when they get a full night’s rest, and that looks different for everyone. There is no shame in being a night owl or early bird, but either way, make sure you are adjusting your schedule so that you still get your full sleep hours and are able to make it to class. Make an attempt to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even weekends! Keeping a consistent sleep schedule on the weekends makes you more productive as well as makes the Monday morning transition easier.

Designate a study space:

Each semester, take the time to experiment with different study spaces on campus to find the one that works best. Make sure you know which environment you study best in such as silence/low noise or with a healthy dose of background noise; around others or alone; and in a relaxed setting or a strict academic setting. If you have a space already, it might work for you still, but don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t. Depending on my class load and the homework assigned to me, I have different locations with different study environments. If you need a quiet study space, my secret spot is second floor West of Giddeons Learning Center, among the forgein language offices.

The biggest advice I can give is be kind to yourself: habits take time to form, same as shifting your focus or intention. Give yourself time to adjust and forgiveness if you make a mistake; you’re only human.

Kat McCullum

Hamline '21

English major with Creative Writing tendencies
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