Saturday, September 8, 2018

10 Life-Changing Habits to Start this Semester

Hello, beautiful! In my three years at college, I've found that the "New Year, New Me" mentality doesn't only apply to January 1st - it also applies to the beginning of a new semester.

There are oh-so-many memes laughing about how we all start in blazers on September 1st, only to wind up in sweatpants by Halloween. But in all seriousness, I believe we should ride our good intentions at the beginning of a new semester for all that they're worth!

This semester, take advantage of your back-to-school motivation - and that "New Year, New Me" attitude, of course! - to start healthy habits that will set you up for success. In case you don't know where to begin, this post offers ten ideas for small, but mighty habits that just might change your life this year.

So, without further ado, keep reading to check out the life-changing habits you should start this semester to set you up for success in the 2018-19 academic year!

Wake Up Early

Giving yourself extra time in the morning is one of the healthiest habits for your body, mind and GPA! As a college student, taking an hour or two to have a leisurely cup of coffee and get some work done before you start a busy day of classes is the definition of life-changing. If you want to transform your life this semester, try setting your alarm a few hours earlier than usual. You might roll out of bed feeling like a zombie at first, but once you get used to your new start time, you'll be so glad you took the leap of faith.

Make Your Bed

I spent the greater part of first and second year with my room looking like the aftermath of a violent tornado. Note to self: don't be that girl this year! You might not be able to control all the clutter once your school year gets chaotic, but getting into the habit of making your bed each and every morning, no matter how tired you are, is a healthy start. One of the keys, I've found, is to steer clear of too many throw pillows and blankets. Pinterest-worthy home decor may be cute, but if you don't use it, it doesn't belong on your bed - and probably not in your life in the first place! 

Stop Buying Starbucks

I fully admit to being a hypocrite when I write this, because I know that grabbing too many Venti iced nonfat vanilla lattes is one of my worst vices on this planet. However, spending too much money at Starbucks - not to mention every other takeout coffee chain out there - is one of the bad habits I'm trying to curb this semester. You don't need to spend money on a fancy espresso drink when you have a perfectly good coffeemaker at home!

Pro tip: take the money you would be spending on a daily latte and save it for something big, like grad school applications or a spring break trip abroad. I promise you won't be missing that sweet vanilla syrup when you're sitting on the beach in Europe, or in orientation at your dream program! 

Dress Up for Class

As a high school senior getting ready for freshman year, I read a thousand blog posts that told me to dress up for class. This advice is cliche for a reason: dressing to impress helps professors remember you, and shows them you take their classes seriously! Consider your sense of fashion your secret weapon when it comes to getting a good participation grade in your lectures. When you're dressed professionally and memorably, you leave a lasting impression that helps professors grade you fairly and shows them the incredible student we already know you are...not to mention, it's a great excuse for a back-to-school shopping trip ;)

Prep Your Meals

Us busy college girls like a dinner we can pop in the microwave and eat in five minutes flat. Still, we all know those Amy's frozen dinners I love so much aren't as good for you as the packaging makes them appear. Admittedly, I'm no fitness pro, and I still love a good frozen pizza as much as the next girl - but planning and prepping meals ahead of time has definitely made it easier for me to stay healthy on the go! Making a grocery list with a few deliberate recipes in mind, as well as cooking things in big batches with lots of leftovers, helps make sure that none of my food, time or money goes to waste during my seriously busy week.

Walk Everywhere

Another area where I'm prone to wasting money is transportation - namely, Uber. And while calling a ride share is a great option when it's late at night or you're far away from home, it's just not necessary - or practical - to call a car for all your daily destinations! Simple though it may seem, I think walking to and from classes is a life-changing habit to get into at the beginning of the new semester. Not only will you save money by avoiding Uber, but you'll also find yourself in much better shape after walking a few miles around campus every day for a year. Trust me when I say that your body and wallet will thank you for replacing your ride share habit with a good pair of walking shoes! 

Shop Savvy

If we're being honest, quitting shopping for clothes, shoes, books or whatever your vices may be is probably a great habit to get into - but it's also a little unrealistic to expect yourself to quit shopping cold turkey. The key, IMHO, is to shop savvy: seek out low prices, clip coupons and join rewards programs; do whatever you have to do to get your fix of fashion, footwear and fiction on the cheap. 

Here are a few life-changing shopping tips I swear by for saving money and kicking ass as a broke college girl: 

  • Shop dollar stores for fuss-free essentials like baking supplies, spices, dishes, cutlery and more. You can also get everyday items like shampoo, conditioner, tampons and tissues for half the price by buying items in slightly smaller quantities there.
  • Check out thrift stores, as well as secondhand online sellers like thredUP, for fashion that's both chic and cheap on a budget. 
  • When shopping online, use the filters to your advantage: filter out anything that's over your budget using the price range filter, and be sure to always sort products from "Prices: Low to High." 

Read Ahead

Remember how back in middle school, teachers treated reading ahead like it was basically a crime? Thankfully, college could not be any more different - and chances are, you'll be rewarded with better grades and more free time by getting ahead on your classwork long before it's due! Take advantage of the calm before the storm at the beginning of the semester to start reading while you've still got the time. This will make it easier for you to stay on top of your syllabus once school starts getting busier - and hopefully to avoid having to pull an all-nighter to cram for your midterms.

Drink Responsibly

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you definitely don't need to drink to have fun in college - but if you do, there's a good and a bad way to do it. I'm not going to tell you not to get drunk, but if you've gotten into some unhealthy drinking habits in the past, this semester is the perfect time to change that. My top tips for responsible drinking (while still having fun!) are:
  1. Pour your own drinks. Don't share drinks - that's how I ended up with strep throat for a month last semester! - or drink anything poured by a stranger, unless you can watch them do it and know your drink is safe.
  2. Eat beforehand. Never drink on an empty stomach. Unless you want to get drunk off two shots, throw together a sandwich and eat it on the way!
  3. Stay hydrated. With water, that is! This will help you avoid hangovers...but if you do happen to get hungover, Pedialyte really does help.
  4. Use the buddy system. It's never fun to be thrust into the role of mom friend without warning. That being said, be responsible for your own drinking - but also look out for the people around you. If you look out for your friends, chances are, they're going to return the favor. 

Take Sleep Seriously

Last but not least, let's talk about one of my favorite subjects: sleep! It's oh-so-important to get a good night's sleep each and every night, yet most college students tend to neglect this essential area of health and wellness. If you want to make an impactful change in your life this semester, try getting 8-10 hours of sleep each and every night. I know, I know: getting that much sleep can sound impossible when you're juggling a busy class schedule, extracurriculars and a sh*t ton of homework. However, getting enough sleep at night keeps you mentally and physically healthy, and better equips you to deal with all the crazy things you're balancing on your busy plate!

What habit are you committing to keeping this semester? LMK @haleyblogs or in the comments below!