As you head into the new year, there’s still plenty of time to reflect on your current habits and future goals. Whether you’re looking for ways to reduce stress or creating a plan to stay more organized, your college years are a perfect opportunity to focus on a healthier lifestyle. The transition into a brand-new year can be a great motivator, but any time is a great time to start.
Still searching for a resolution? Try one or more of these ideas to build better habits that last a lifetime.
Focus on Your Health
Alongside newfound independence, college introduces plenty of stressors, from challenging course materials to social pressures to managing a mountain of activities, including sports and jobs. It’s no wonder college students don’t get nearly enough sleep. Studies show that less than one-third of students manage to get the eight hours of shut eye they need each night. And it isn’t necessarily wild parties or last-minute assignments keeping students up — many report stress as a major contributing factor to poor sleep habits.
Introducing new habits can be part of whole-picture health this year. Start by getting more exercise, which has been shown to improve not only how long you sleep, but how well you sleep. Regular exercise can also increase focus in addition to other benefits.
Cut down on caffeine, fast food, and alcohol, which impact your sleep and your overall health. Start slow if necessary. Try replacing one daily cup of coffee or energy drink with water, and look for healthier on-the-go snacks as you hustle across campus.
Seek out mind-body activities like meditation, yoga, or tai chi. If you don’t have time to join a class, there are plenty of apps and YouTube videos that can help you start an individual practice in your own dorm room or apartment. Meditation in particular is a powerful tool in combating college stress. With these changes, you should be able to catch a few more Zs each night, leaving you feeling more refreshed and energized for class.
Stay on Top of Coursework
Armed with a little more sleep and better focus, you can turn your attention to your coursework. One of the best habits to introduce this year is a more organized academic calendar. Schedule plenty of study time, and keep up with due dates for assignments and exams with a handy planning app or mobile calendar.
This also might be an ideal time to try different methods of note-taking. You might find you’re able to take better notes on your laptop than on your tablet or phone, or it may be beneficial to leave yourself handwritten and highlighted notes in your textbooks before typing notes about what you’ve read.
Don’t forget to build time into your schedule for completing all of your reading each week, or consider setting up a weekly library visit or study group with other classmates. Creating routines is one of the best ways to stay on top of your assignments when the semester gets busy, and better organization is a key way to reduce stress.
Make Saving Money a Priority
The ability to save money, spend smartly, and budget well are skills that help you throughout the rest of your life. Take the first steps to better money management by opening a savings account, even if you’re only able to save what feels like pocket change. Even a few dollars a week adds up over time. More importantly, it instills habits around saving.
You can also cut costs by learning how to cook, ride-sharing with friends, and shopping at local thrift stores or online marketplaces. Don’t forget to take advantage of student discounts, as well as use grocery store apps and other downloadable coupons.
Organize Your Space
In your effort to introduce healthier habits and minimize the stress of college, don’t forget that your New Year’s resolution ideas can include your physical space. Science shows that a mess creates stress, and it can be difficult to study, sleep, or practice mindfulness in a disorganized environment. Make things easier for yourself by keeping your college apartment clutter free.
Start by getting items up off the floor. Stash your stuff with organizational pieces like dressers, shelving, and cabinets from CORT Furniture Rental. In a smaller space, make use of multi-purpose furniture and clever storage, such as under-bed rolling bins and closet organizers.
Pay attention to the tops of dressers, desks, tables, and countertops, where it’s easy for papers and other clutter to accumulate. Decorative baskets and boxes are perfect for creating a catch-all that keeps surfaces more organized, and these can be great thrift-store finds as well.
No matter what your resolutions for the new year may be, start small. Introduce changes one at a time, and be gentle with yourself as you incorporate different habits into your lifestyle. Whether your focus is reducing stress, improving sleep, or cleaning up your space, it takes time for resolutions to stick. Approach things day by day, and think of the difference you’ll see by next year.