How My First Semester Taught Me to Take Care of Myself

My first semester of college, without a doubt, has been a wild ride. I have made a lot of new friends, found what I feel is my niche, joined eight clubs around campus, and I’ve been studying hard for my classes. I’ve been weeks ahead in homework and also accidentally missed a couple assignments; I got nearly a 100% on a midterm, and then proceeded to fail another. The first several months of college, I struggled to balance a social life and my academics. I took all honors and AP classes in high school and had a limited social life. Coming to college, not only were classes significantly harder and faster-paced than high school, but I also now had a social life to maintain. It took awhile to adjust and learn my priorities.

In order to compensate for my new academic, social, and extracurricular lives, I began to lose sleep and skip meals. I didn’t have the time and, quite frankly, forgot about their importance. The first time my parents came to visit me at college, they commented how visibly thinner I was and the dark circles under my eyes. I was having a great time, but my body was falling apart as a result.

I finally hit a week that I would have to call the worst week of my college career so far. I received poor scores on not only one, but two midterms, and I had an abundance of homework that included two lab reports. In all honestly, I spent most of the week crying, skipping class, and barely sleeping. However, I made it through the week. As soon as the weekend hit, I looked back on the week and realized I needed to change what I was doing. This was not working for me.

I decided to skip my social plans for the weekend (which my friends fully supported after witnessing firsthand the previous week), and I spent as much time as possible working on homework. I took small breaks as to not burn out and I cut myself off to go eat meals with friends and sleep at a proper time. I got over a week ahead on my homework. This allowed me to spend the following week learning to sleep at a better time, spending more time actually studying for courses instead of merely doing homework, and allowing myself the time to relax and recover.

I now make schedules for myself. I schedule in my meals, time to relax, time to socialize, plenty of time for homework and studying, and time to sleep. I may not have a perfect sleep schedule, but I go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every morning, and get at least 6-7 hours of sleep per night (the amount recommended by my doctor). My experience from the beginning of the semester may have been terrible, but it was worth it since I now schedule time for at least a little bit of everything I want to do and am now properly taking care of myself.

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