In less than a week, a new academic semester will begin at Mississippi College, and much like the start of the new year, a different semester brims with the promise of change. Currently, people all around the world are resolving to improve their lives in some way: be it losing weight, exercising more or having more fun. The arrival of a new semester offers the same opportunity for a new start.
As someone who uses both a digital and paper calendar, I unsurprisingly stand as a big proponent of planning. Between my classes, my three jobs, and my extracurriculars, I would not arrive anywhere on time if I didn't use a planner. However, my planning could get better, and I suspect most college students could improve their planning skills as well. If you find yourself working on a project you've known about the entire semester during the final weeks of school, you could plan better (I say this because I did the same thing last semester). My excuse was that I was too busy, but really it was because I hadn't planned out my time well. This semester I'm resolving to not plan out every hour of my day like I have prior to last semester but to set mini-deadlines for myself.
Develop a Normal Sleep Schedule
Maybe you already have this one down, but most college students I know don't. Late nights and early mornings result in over-caffeination, exhaustion, and poor health, so resolve to make your sleep a priority.
Eat More Fruit and Vegetables
It can be hard to eat healthy in college, but your long-term health requires you to make responsible decisions about your nutrition now. Plus, you will feel better and have more energy to tackle the semester.
Exercise Your Mind AND Body
I know someone who gets up every morning and goes to the gym while managing to get enough sleep and successfully complete all of her schoolwork. I'm resolving to be more like her this semester. Often, I find it easy to skip the gym because I have a huge paper coming up, but even if it's only an afternoon walk, our bodies deserve more from us than being huddled over a laptop, typing away.
Take Care of Your Mental and Emotional Health
College and life can be emotionally and mentally taxing. If you ever feel overwhelmed with the weight of life, don't be ashamed or afraid to seek out help. You were never made to carry your burdens alone.
Complain Less About School
Lately, I've been reminded of how much a privilege it is to learn and attend college. When a huge paper's due date creeps closer or finals arrive, however, I quickly forget that attending a university is a gift. Let's resolve to be more thankful for the academic challenges we face.
Make Time for Your Friends
Last summer, my friends and I realized that our senior year was going to be crazy. With marriage, challenging academic loads, and graduate school applications, we knew it would be difficult to see one another, so we set aside one day out of every month to gather. We took turns making a sweet treat and then spent a couple of hours catching up. Because of our planning, we made sure that our friendships could endure the craziness of the semester. I also have a friend who sets up a weekly lunch on different days with different friends. Make sure you don't let the craziness of a semester stand between you and your friends.
This is another resolution I enacted last semester and plan to continue. Previously, I had a problem with overworking myself. After my roommate, Mary, talked some sense into me, I now know that I have to take breaks, even if they are small ones. Whether it's picking up a bar of dark chocolate or watching an episode of my favorite T.V. show, I am less stressed and more productive after a quick break.
Find your way of Destressing
Your health demands that you find a way to destress. Whether it's knitting, running, yoga, cooking, reading or coloring, find some activity that will help you manage stress.
Most importantly, resolve that this semester will glorify God. It can be easy to let your relationship with God slide down your list of priorities. Continue to seek Him and learn and grow throughout the semester, regardless of how crazy it gets.
Give More Grace
Finally, I know I need to resolve to give more grace: to my friends, to my professors, to my family, to strangers, to myself. When people fall short of our expectations, let us extend forgiveness instead of righteous indignation. When we find ourselves making stupid, unintentional mistakes, let us extend forgiveness to ourselves.
In these next few days, think about how you want this semester to play out and the practical ways you implement those goals. Seize the opportunity a new semester offers and resolve to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. You won't regret it.