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How I’m Taking Control Of My Health This Semester

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

College can be a great experience and has much to offer but it can also take a toll on our mental health at times. We are constantly juggling stressful classes, extracurricular activities and social commitments. On top of all of that, many of us are in the process of learning how to do “adult-like” tasks: making sure we’re fed, staying healthy, cleaning, keeping up with laundry and more.

It can be a lot to handle for anyone, even for the most organized and dedicated students. As I noticed my mental health and physical health declining last semester, I decided to make some changes in my life this semester. Incorporating just a few new items into my daily routine has really helped me take back control of my body and mind in the past couple of months. If you’re struggling with a similar issue, this article is for you! 

The first thing I started doing again is dressing nicely each day, to the extent I can. I know this may not be the first thing that comes to mind, especially when it’s already a struggle to get out of bed and be motivated to do the rest of your to-do list. However, it’s surprising how much more motivated I am to continue my day when I’ve put effort into how I look.

Looking at the best version of myself in the mirror has really helped me feel better about my days overall. Try this tip out and find what works for you! This part of my day adds just five extra minutes to my normal morning routine. Putting effort into your outfit and appearance does not have to be fancy or time-consuming; for me, it just involves putting on a little mascara, doing a cute hairstyle and deciding to wear something like jeans instead of sweatpants for a day.

The second addition to my routine has been journaling for about 10 minutes every day. I used to struggle with prioritizing time to meditate, journal or just give myself time to process my thoughts and feelings. To help me start journaling more regularly recently, I got a pretty journal that excites me to write in.

I make sure to have it in my backpack with me at all times. This allows me to jot down thoughts throughout the day if anything comes up. There is no perfect time of day to process how you feel; whatever works for you is what you should stick to.

I used to see girls on TikTok who would journal, make beautiful meals and go to the gym all before I could even think of waking up. By trying to copy other people’s lifestyles that didn’t fit mine, I became unmotivated and stopped journaling altogether. However, now I usually journal before bed or when I’m tired and resting from another activity during the day. Using it as a nighttime activity actually really helps me calm my thoughts and fall asleep easier too!

The Lalagirl Writing In Notebook
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The third and arguably most impactful change I’ve made is prioritizing going to the gym. This is one of those tips that everyone says to do but can seem unattainable or very difficult to make time for.

I started by just setting aside 30 minutes in my day to work out on a treadmill. I realized that I loved the way I felt after doing some cardio so I decided to set aside one hour per day to go to the gym instead. The better I felt after working out, the more willing and excited I was to make time for it. It’s like a cycle of positive reinforcements. Now, my day feels empty and incomplete without some time at the gym.

Something that has helped me view working out in a healthy and positive way is recognizing how it’s helped my mental health. Getting an hour of movement every day where it’s just my music, my thoughts and me has helped me process my emotions and improve my overall health in a sustainable way. 

These three activities are specific examples of changes I’ve made, among others, but I think there’s a bigger takeaway from them. One common thread between all three things is making time to be alone.

As a natural extrovert, I’ve always struggled with letting myself sit in silence with my own thoughts. I love to be around people and convinced myself for years that I need to constantly be around people to be happy and feel energized. On the contrary, while I realize that social energy is necessary for me, I have found that alone time is equally as important.

It’s easy for me to brush my health and well-being under the rug when my social battery is already drained from other activities during the day, but lately, that hasn’t felt like a very sustainable way to take care of myself. Adding these three things — taking pride in how I look, journaling and working out — has not added more than an hour and a half to my daily routine but has made an incredibly positive impact on my energy levels and health.

I encourage you to try these tips or find other things you can add to your routine that help you! Small, sustainable changes have made a big difference in my life and I’m excited for them to help you as well.

Sanya Surya is a third-year pre-medical student in the Guaranteed Admission Program for Medicine at VCU Honors College. She is majoring in Bioinformatics and minoring in Chemistry. She hopes to become a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist and work in public health. Sanya's career interests revolve around social justice, education, advocacy, mental health, and women's health. She has volunteered in the past as a peer sex educator for Planned Parenthood's Teen Council program, teaching over 400 students in the Portland and Beaverton, OR metro area comprehensive sex education. She also works in mental health, with experience on two crisis hotlines supporting people in need. She is also an active performing artist, trained in 7 styles of dance, Indian and Western vocal music, instrumental music, and a former thespian.