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8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

I’m a college student. Maybe you’re a college student, too. Life is crazy busy. Like, extremely busy. Maybe you’re in the same boat as me. You are involved in classes, yes, but then there’s everything else: your job(s), internship, extra-curricular clubs, and various groups. Maybe you’re a member of a sorority or fraternity, as well. You and me, we’re involved in a lot—let’s just keep it at that.

Somehow, some way, we are expected to have our lives under control. Homework is due. Exams are practically every other day, not to mention the many group projects, club meetings, and study sessions.

When do we have time to get it all done, let alone breathe?

There are only twenty four hours in a day, which sometimes, feels like not enough. If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried to organize your life, you really have. You began this school year with a positive outlook on the semester, telling yourself that you’d sleep eight hours a night, get straight A’s, and have enough time for both your social life AND studying. But somehow, in the span of just a few weeks, that ideal image has begun to quickly fade out of sight. Now, reality has set in.

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If you’re on the verge of losing all the sanity you have left… if you’re on the crossroads between Crazy Town and Panic Road, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy.

1. Check lists are your new BFF.

Check lists are your life preservers. Buy a notebook specifically for this purpose—it’s that important. Check lists have helped me in huge ways, and have literally saved my sanity multiple times.  First, write down everything you have to do that week. Everything, even the group meetings and the homework assignments… even the mall trip you hope to squeeze into your schedule somewhere. Then, break it up into days. Daily checklists break down the overwhelming To-Do lists into smaller, more manageable pieces. Write reasonable goals for yourself every morning, goals that will actually be completed by the end of the day.

Writing even the most mundane tasks down, like taking a shower, gives you a motivational boost of energy when you are able to check it off. There’s something empowering and encouraging about checking off an item on your To-Do list. It makes you feel productive, because you are! You’re getting things done in a more organized, less crazy way.

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2. Become Time-Oriented

Time is precious. There are only so many hours in a day to get everything done, so wasting it is a huge mistake. Becoming Time-Oriented is very easy to adapt, but it takes will power. Set time goals for yourself. Have to study for an exam? Give yourself one hour. Then take a break and do something else, something on your check list. Start writing a paper outline or respond back to a group project email.

Breaking up your time into smaller chunks helps create a more relaxed brain space. Focusing on one thing for too long is not productive. By giving your brain a break from one task, you are able to be more productive and complete more tasks faster.

However, becoming time-oriented does not mean that you become legalistic about scheduling. Allow for a little flexibility, in case something comes up or you accidentally sleep in a little too late. Be persistent in becoming time-oriented, but keep an open mind. If you under schedule yourself for a specific task, you will feel stressed, so make sure to keep your time limits reasonable.

3. The 10 Minute Cycle

This is one of my secret tricks. Piggybacking off of #2, the 10 Minute Cycle helps release the overwhelming stress you may feel between tasks. Walking to class? Put your phone away and listen to a few songs, instead. Taking a break from exam studying? Stand up and do 50 jumping jacks or 50 sit-ups (or both!). Group meeting done early? Check your email or call a friend. The 10 Minute Cycle allows you to do something different every day. Whether it’s checking Facebook, walking around campus, or listening to some pump up music, give your mind a re-boost of energy between tasks or meetings. The trick is: Keep your activity at 10 minutes or less. It’s just enough time to jumpstart your focus, but short enough to keep you on track.

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4. Write. It. Down.

Let’s face it. No matter how good you think your memory is, sometimes it fails you. You thought you’d remember your dad’s birthday, but you forgot. You thought you’d remember that the exam is next Tuesday, but you didn’t realize it until Monday night. Things happen. Write it down.

Buy a planner or put it in your phone. However you’d like to make record of it, do it. Stick to it. Always check it. Update it. By writing it down and keeping up with your plans, you won’t get everything confused. Write down the times next to your meeting dates. Write down the number of the classroom your sorority is having their weekly meeting. Whatever it is, write it down. Thinking you’re going crazy and actually going crazy aren’t that different. When you write your thoughts down, it’s a valid and visual reminder of what you have to do. Chances are you won’t go crazy when you don’t have to worry about forgetting something!

5. Change your scenery.

If you are stuck in your dorm or the library studying for yet another exam or meeting for another group project, I feel bad for you. Sometimes, the scenery is what makes us feel overwhelmed. Change it up! Head to Starbucks or a little café. Go into the student lounge or to a random window seat in an academic building. Changing up the scenery will change your productivity level, too, which will, in turn, keep you sane and focused. Your dorm and the library are great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, a little change is good for you!

6. Clean your space.

Mental stress is really the underlying factor beneath the hectic schedule. The mind is running a thousand miles per hour and you don’t know how to make it slow down. Clean your space. Organize your desk, make your bed, put away your laundry. By making your personal space clean and organized, you’ll free your mind, as well. Plus, when you go to study or have friends over, you’ll be able to focus on that instead of being distracted by everything around you. A clean space is a happy head space.

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7. Quotes on quotes on quotes.

As random as this is, quotes are lifesavers. When you have a bad day or are simply on the verge of a break down, quotes taped to the wall, written in notebooks, stuck to the mirror, hanging from the ceiling—wherever they are, they’re helpful. Write down your top 10 favorite quotes and post them everywhere. Read them whenever you can. Live by them. They’re there to save you from Crazy Town.

8. Relax.

Sometimes, we’re just so busy that we forget to relax. I feel like I’m always running around, going to the next meeting or studying for the next exam, that I forget to enjoy the day or give myself a break. At the end of every day, set aside time to simply relax. Watch an episode of The Walking Dead or Netflix an old episode of Breaking Bad. Read a magazine or scroll through Pinterest. Whatever is the best way you will feel relaxed, do it. You deserve it. It’s been a long day. Treat yourself to a little relaxation, because not losing your sanity is worthy of celebration.

Those are 8 ways to help you stay busy without going crazy. I hope they are helpful to you! Have any other tips you’d like to share, comments, or suggestions? I’d love to hear them! Comment below or Tweet me!

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8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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