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7 Small Habits I Started That Completely Changed My Life

There are so many aspects to living a truly amazing life, and figuring out what habits and activities are the most fulfilling is the first step. Here are a few habits I started to religiously incorporate into my life and the results are insane! It doesn’t take much besides a little dedication early on, and later down the road you’ll question how you’ve went so long without them. 

1. Realizing I Can’t Do It All

Life can get hectic and complicated and overwhelming, especially as a college student. It’s easy to get caught up on this high speed train and forget to stop. We are not unstoppable. We are human, we are prone to reacting to what we engage in, whether that be a heavy course load or this idea that we have to be hyper-involved in campus life. Yes, college houses the most amazing opportunities; we can get involved in clubs, attend sporting events, go out with friends and so much more. But no, we can’t do it all. And once I understood that, I seemed to gain control again. I learned to slow down the high speed train and take the stops I desperately needed but denied to accept.

I experienced this phenomenon just as I started my freshman year. I was getting overwhelmed far too early into the quarter for it to even be reasonable. My schedule was fine, I liked my professors… What was there to be stressed about? I would glance at my calendar regularly just to see it was completely booked. But with what? I was taking 3 classes and working 8 hours a week. I was involved in clubs, but nothing to the extent that it should draw panic. What was causing this unnecessary stress?

I was pushing myself to do nearly everything I wanted to do, not what I needed to do. My calendar was blocked out for events that to a reasonable account I simply could not attend! But I didn’t acknowledge that. I wanted to attend every club meeting, go to every office hour possible, and go to every Welcome Back Bruins event. It just was not possible. Once I recognized that, everything changed. I was able to prioritize my time and devote free hours to the clubs and events I wanted to visit. I remained excited about the opportunities ahead but with the mindset that I have time. There is no rush. And most importantly, I don’t have to do it all.

2. One Ted Talk A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

When you’re bored and find yourself scrolling through Instagram, checking Snapchat stories or getting in some Netflix, consider watching a Ted Talk instead. These nearly ten minute long videos are packed with new, interesting and relevant information that is so hard to pass up! There is even a Ted Talk podcast that you can listen to while walking to and from class if you can’t find time to fit in a video. Be a student both inside and outside of the classroom. Don’t stop learning. Feel productive. Watch Ted Talks.

3. Envisioning My Vision Board

I created a vision board that encapsulates my aspirations and goals for the years ahead. It’s a visual that inspires me, but it can’t work its magic by just sitting on my desk accumulating dust. Visiting my vision board daily and understanding what I want out of myself and envisioning that in my future is what makes it come to life! I able to remind myself of what I’m working towards and keep myself motivated. 10/10 recommend.

4. Using Social Media At One Certain Block Of Time Per Day

This might be the greatest game changer: scrolling for only 30 minutes a day, once per day. I used to delete social media apps off my phone around exam weeks, but coming to college, my biggest priority was working to remain present and avoid wasting time. Social media is utterly the greatest mode of wasting time for me, and maybe you can relate. Scrolling is addictive and robs you of your sense of time; I could check instagram for a mere second and close to an hour has gone by, where in reality, I could care less what everyone is doing at every moment of every day, and it’s in my control to stop feeding attention to it.

So, if I want to check in or have leisure online, I set it for after all my work is done for the day, for exactly 30 minutes. I set a timer, do my mindless scrolling, then delete the apps. Note that I call it “mindless” scrolling for a reason! By acknowledging that the scrolling you’re doing is a task to fulfill boredom and is, simply, mindless, it takes away from the aspect that it’s wasting your time. You are setting leisure time to yourself to “catch up” and not think, to put your brain to rest. It might not be the best way to do it, but if you’re gonna be using social media, you might as well be in control of it. So, delete that app or two for throughout the day, and if you really want to revisit it, download it when the tasks have been completed.

Or, even better, re-download them on the Friday of every week! Revisit when the weekend hits and let your focus for throughout the weekdays be your friends (in person), your studies, and enjoying campus life! Note: once you get into the habit of removing these apps and see how rewarding it is, deleting and downloading an app or two doesn’t seem to be such a task. Or, if you don’t find yourself wasting time on social media, then great, you’re already in control!

5. Having A Mental Health Check-in Buddy

This is something that came about naturally between my cousin and me that I feel I would be empty without. We do regular check-ins on one another, either in the morning or throughout the day, depending on how busy we are. Shooting a simple, “How are you?” text allows us both to reflect on how we’re feeling, why we’re feeling that way and maximize on what grants us such happiness! This helps with consistent moods and minimizing deviations. Being able to establish such a relationship lets this “check-in-style” be freely communicated on a consistent basis. There are gym buddies and study buddies, so why not mental health check-in buddies? No, it’s not weird. It’s like having a therapist on you 24/7. Mental health matters. Protect it. Find a buddy.

6. Recognizing My Purpose

Motivation slumps are too real. What I’ve found to entirely combat these is recognizing why I’m doing what I’m doing. It allows me to understand my purpose, my “why.” Instead of bribing yourself with some food for finishing an assignment, try motivating yourself through understanding your purpose. Why are you doing that assignment? Yes, because it’s due, but also, so you apply the concepts from class. Why are you at lecture? Because you’re getting an amazing education! Why are you writing this paper? Yes, it’s time consuming, but look how much you’ve learned. We are in university to learn, and not coming to terms with how great of a privilege that is can lead to hating time spent in the classroom and the work we are assigned. Understand your purpose, and live to fulfill it.

7. Bedtime Isn’t Just For The Elementary Years

We are never too old to abide by a bedtime, in fact, it’s encouraged! Creating structure adds some control to busy schedules, and that includes making time for sleep. Push yourself to be in bed at certain time every single night, and in time, a habit will have formed. Even if you sleep a little later than when you intended, still trying to sleep at a certain time will push you to work more efficiently so that you can hit the Zzzs that much sooner. It really is a win-win.

Nicolette is sophomore at UCLA studying psychobiology with a minor in professional writing. She is the author of her first published book, Control Mindset, a nonfiction guide to taking control of your mind & reality. Her aspirations are in the field of medicine, but she enjoys connecting the art of writing and creation with the sciences. She thinks writing biographies is very hard so she is butchering this as she types. She thanks you for reading her article and hopes you learned something new. She also loves coffee and needs some right now. She argues dark roast is the best roast. She's also probably hungry right now. Nom nom.
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