Obtaining higher education is no small feat. Even when you're given the best of cards, deciding what it is you want to study, moving to a new city or country, getting along with new classmates, and trying to prepare for a career are all difficult tasks. I haven't even mentioned the actual course work which is meant to be the most consuming aspect. Working diligently is just that—work—but if you're taking care of yourself first, your busy life can be motivating instead of crippling.
With all of the uncertainty surrounding the current pandemic, I've done my best to focus first on my mental and physical wellbeing. Nothing else matters if you aren't feeling okay, and you will perform much better when you're in good health. I've found several great ways to stay positive, healthy, and productive during this time. These five tips can help you succeed now, and when things feel a bit more normal.
- Develop Routines. When things go south, the first reaction is often apathy. Lying in bed when you're not sleeping, binge watching shows, endless scrolling through social media. A great way to stay on top of things is to develop morning and evening routines. I've found that if I know exactly what I'm doing when I wake up, I get moving quicker and get more done. In the evening, I set a time when I write in my journal, turn down the lights, and wash my face. Habits and routines keep you headed in a good direction even when you're unmotivated.
- I recently read "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker. I've always been a fan of snoozing, but this book changed my view of sleep from positive to absolutely essential. Prioritise your sleep like you do your meals. Sleep strengthens your memory, helps you problem solve, betters your mood, repairs your muscles, and more.
- Along that vein, exercise is not only good for your physical health, but your mental health. Make this a priority and your studies will improve. I try to get a solid 30 minutes at least, every day. Whether it's yoga, running, or a home workout, get it done.
- Help Others. One of my favourite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson. "It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." Reach out to others and make sure they are doing well. Think of how good it makes you feel anytime someone reaches out to you to compliment you, ask how you're doing, or just say hi. That's how they will feel.
- Do Nothing. This is one of my favourite tips. Sometimes the best way for us get back on the right track is to simply do nothing. Slow down, don't rush, you have plenty of time to get what you need done. When feeling unmotivated to write, author Neil Gaiman gives himself an ultimatum, "You can sit here and write or you can sit here and do nothing, but you can't sit here and do anything else." Before long, we all get bored of doing nothing, and we'll do the thing we've been putting off.
I didn't ever think I would be writing this blog post in my parent's home, 4,700 miles away from the University of Manchester, but here we are. You never know what life will throw at you. In my case, it sent me across the Atlantic Ocean and into quarantine, but it also sent me a new puppy. There will be ups and downs in life, but as long as you are doing what you can to take care of yourself, it'll be alright. Stay safe. Keep your head up. You are enough.