Every college student is faced with the challenge of creating a healthy routine. This may consist of juggling hard classes, a job, clubs, athletics, workouts, and more. Regardless of what is on your plate, it is difficult to manage all of this while also maintaining your mental health. I had previously thought that I had this down; I was getting all A’s and managing to consistently hang out with friends and work out. However, after reflecting on my first year, there are a few habits that I now realize were slowly impacting my mental health and ability to thrive. In this article, I will share with you my successes and failures in creating a healthy routine in college, including a few things that you should consider when creating a schedule and strategies that specifically work for me.
Set aside time for social connection
First of all, you should know that I am an introvert and thrive independently. That being said, like any human being, I still need social interactions in order to succeed. Research has shown that social connection is a primary psychological need and is essential for human development and survival. That’s why prioritizing time to develop relationships is essential. I didn’t always know this and used to prioritize grades over all else. Whenever I would get overwhelmed, I would revert into “survival mode” and devote all my time to succeeding academically. I would get in the habit of going to bed studying and waking up the same way; I thought that there wasn’t time for anything else. I’ve realized that this ideology is flawed. I’m not saying to skip classes or check out completely. What I am saying is that it’s ok to let’s say, turn in an assignment late if it means taking the time that you need to socialize and re-center yourself.
Take time for Yourself
From running between classes to scheduling time for clubs, it is important to take time every day for yourself. This can be anything from going to the gym to sketching; personally, I love listening to podcasts. Currently, I am obsessed with Unlocking Us with Brené Brown, which in my opinion is a must-listen. It educates you on social and emotional intelligence, which are skills that are invaluable to helping you through your college experience.
Please, Please, Please get enough Sleep!
I realize that creating and sticking to a strict sleep schedule might be hard. For a lot of us, the nighttime is a time that is dedicated to hanging out with friends. Instead of trying to go to bed at a certain time every day, instead, be aware of how much quality sleep you are getting every night. According to Dr.Diges, sleep is necessary to be able to think, be vigilant, and form long-term memories. Last year, I did not prioritize sleep.
It would be painful for me to wake up after spending too much time the night before on Netflix or TikTok. What I did not realize at the time was that waking up disoriented and rushing to get ready every morning threw off my entire day. For me, the mornings are extremely important. Giving myself time to wake up, get dressed, and eat breakfast prepares me to be productive the rest of the day. I also find that the morning is a great time to meditate and journal. Again, this might not be for everyone, but taking some time every day to reflect on how you’re feeling and what your goals are might be helpful.
create times that are dedicated to studying
Ask yourself a few questions. Do I have time in between classes that I can use exclusively for certain homework? Do I study best in the morning or at night? I am most productive if I dedicate certain time slots within the week for certain tasks. For example, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I have a two-hour block in between classes where I study Organic Chemistry. This is a great way to keep yourself accountable. Also, I preferably finish all my school work during the morning and throughout the day, allowing for free time at night. This system works best for me, though this was only discovered through trial and error. Last semester my study habits were poor, and I would spend hours studying in my room at night which became problematic. Regardless of your preferences, creating a study routine will allow you to organize your days and feel more collected.
I hope that you can relate to and benefit from some of this advice. These strategies have dramatically improved my overall well-being, and I hope that they can do the same for you!