1. Check in with your mental health
With the continuous uncertainty of everyday life and what the next day may bring, mental health is at the forefront of current concerns and is becoming its own pandemic. On top of this uncertainty, this has been our first quarter in a year and a half that’s back fully in-person…and that’s a big adjustment! Seasonal depression during this time of year can make this transition even more difficult. Many of the following goals on this list can help improve your mental health.
Volunteering with a cause you’re passionate about can be incredibly beneficial to your sense of self-worth and can provide a sense of purpose (thus helping to combat depression). One Seattle volunteering group I just discovered that I hope to volunteer with soon is named We Heart Seattle. They are a group of volunteers who strive to keep Seattle beautiful and safe for everyone: they clean trash and abandoned living arrangements with consent and permission and provide outreach/services to unhoused individuals.
3. Explore your college town
Seattle has a plethora of tourist attractions—Pike Place, Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum, Alki Beach, Seattle waterfront (which includes the Great Wheel and plenty of shops), and the Fremont Troll are a few of the many things you can see and do here. Have a picnic at Gas Works Park if you don’t feel like leaving the U District!
4. Prioritize your sleep
Although sleep is something we fail to get enough of as college students, getting even one or two more hours per night can greatly improve your mood. Maintaining a consistent bedtime and limiting blue light before bed can improve your quality and quantity of sleep.
5. De-clutter your wardrobe
Reselling or donating older clothes, especially towards the end of the year, can leave you feeling more put-together. Like the rest of our living space, it’s important to keep our closet areas clean in order to optimize productivity, especially as college students who have limited closet space.
6. Spend time learning or re-learning a subject you’re interested in
Curiosity in a wide variety of subjects has been known to increase your mood, motivation, and overall intelligence as a lifelong learner. Taking online courses through sites such as edX enable you to learn about any academic subject you want, while sites like YouTube allow you to gain hard skills such as automotive, baking, woodworking, and more.
7. Drink more H2O!
Water has proven to improve nearly every aspect of our daily lives, including our mood and cognitive function. If you’re someone who often finds yourself struggling to drink enough water, large water jugs that indicate how many ounces you should drink by each time of day can be especially useful.
8. Wake up earlier
Waking up at an earlier time, even if it’s only slightly earlier than your usual waking, can increase your production in the morning and help increase your overall accomplishments throughout the day. “Sunlight” alarm clocks have proven to [usually] be more effective than traditional “noisy” alarm clocks—if you’re someone who struggles to wake up to noise alarm clocks, you may want to consider the sunlight alarm.
9. Reinvent your personaL look for the new year
Sometimes it takes a simple refresh or fresh start to leave us with a new sense of inspiration. A new haircut and/or dye, a fresh manicure, a spa day—any combination of the above and more are things you can do to feel rejuvenated as the holiday season comes to a close.
10. Take time for yourself outside
Countless studies have verified the importance of sunlight (or simply natural daylight for us Seattleites who rarely see the sun) for our eyesight, brain function, overall happiness, and more. One of the main reasons the majority of our generation requires glasses to combat nearsightedness is due to our general lack of time outdoors. Lack of sunlight is one of the causes of myopia (nearsightedness) in which one’s eyeball(s) elongate and result in images focusing in front of the retina instead of directly on the retina. This is only one of the many health implications that spending time outside can help prevent.
11. Incorporate more vegetables into daily meals
While eating healthy can be especially difficult during university (questionably healthy dining hall food, expensive groceries, and lack of accessibility to kitchen spaces with full amenities) it is essential to both your physical and cognitive function. A few convenient ways to start eating healthier include buying pre-cooked chicken breast or deli meat, hummus and pita bread (I highly recommend the red pepper hummus from Trader Joe’s), or preparing fresh fruits and veggies at the start of the week.