Finding Balance in College

Uprooted from home and an established daily routine solidified by comfort and sameness, new college students often struggle with finding balance in their new environment. Because of this sudden, new pace of life, it can be easy to fall into the wrong habits, whether they be academical, social, physical, or mental. As challenging as it may seem to break from unhealthy or self-sabotaging habits, there are always ways to find balance in college, and it’s never too late to begin!


Academics

As easy as it may be to color coordinate your pens and set up a perfectly aesthetic study environment, actually getting to work and staying productive may be less so. However, it doesn’t always have to be a cycle of procrastination, boredom, and guilt for not wanting to study or getting schoolwork done.

First, implementing clear long-term (monthly, quarterly, or semester) goals can make it easier to follow a trajectory of growth; with an end goal in sight, short-term (daily or weekly) goals are easier to complete because you know they are slowly contributing to achieving the long-term goal. Each day, don’t worry too much about the large, upcoming projects or tests you have to prepare for. Instead, focus on smaller tasks that’ll get you to your point in the near future. Knowing you are capable of finishing these tasks within the day, you feel less overwhelmed and find it much easier to stay productive.

Additionally, finding optimal study environments is crucial. Some may find that studying in dorms is most effective because of the silence and comfortable, homey environment, whereas others may only want to study outdoors because of the background noise and lack of distractions. The same goes for study methods: the Pomodoro method (25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break) may work best for some students, whereas others may find it most effective to carve out 1-hour long blocks of studying with half hour breaks in between.


Social

Regardless of how social one’s high school experience was, college is unmatched — from roommates and floormates to classes, parties and club events, it can be hard to find balance when it comes to social gatherings and interactions. To find the best balance in your social life, make sure to follow these tips.

Slowly become more comfortable with saying no. Yes, fear of missing out is real, but at the end of the day, one social event in the scheme of a week or two won’t make a huge difference in your social life. It may, however, warrant the completion of an important task or moment of self care that recharges you for days ahead, and ultimately be worth missing the outing.

Just as important as it is to say no, make sure you don’t feel guilty for saying yes. A social night is not necessarily wasted time, as it can actually be a beneficial way to take a break from the stresses of school, internships, work, or other responsibilities. Once you’ve decided to step into a fun setting with others, it will not do yourself or those around you any good if you’re constantly worrying about something outside of the present moment. Make the most of the event and those around you!

Lastly, before attending an event or meeting with other people, quickly check in with yourself, making sure that the people you are about to spend time with are good reflections of who you want to become, and that the environment you are about to enter will be safe and beneficial. If you’re in the right setting, socialization can be just as important as hitting the books.


Physical/mental Health

Health comes in many forms and looks a little different for everyone. However, there are some general rules of thumb for those looking to improve both their physical and mental health in college, because we all know it’s not always easy to do so.

Starting with physical health, diet is crucial to feeling and performing your best. Begin by avoiding extremes. Stay away from excessive dieting and restriction of certain food groups, because this will likely lead to more cravings in the future, as well as a negative mindset surrounding certain types of food that should be enjoyed in moderation. At the same time, try to avoid the other end of the spectrum of repetitively overeating and solely consuming foods that are not nutritionally dense. Ultimately, a diet that is balanced will serve you best — make sure most of your meals have a variety of food groups and colors, but also honor and enjoy your cravings.

Beyond food, exercise is a crucial element in bolstering both physical and mental health. While many may view working out as a way to maintain a desired physique, it significantly lowers risk of disease, manages a stable weight, betters sleep quality, boosts energy, and improves mood. Rather than seeing exercise as a chore, switching your mindset to see it as not only a privilege but also a form of enjoyable recreation can make it easier to implement in your daily or weekly college routine.

Regardless of if you are 5 or 5,000 miles away from home, being in college means that you are automatically separated from familiar interactions with friends and family. With the unpredictability of a college schedule, it can be hard to carve out time to keep in touch with those from home. However, talking to a family member or old friend at least once a week can be an effective way to talk through your experiences, get advice, or simply enjoy the company of a familiar face.



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