From the Editor: Focus on you as much as your school work

A look at any college brochure shows students happily walking with friends, calmly reading in the library and many other picture-perfect moments. But while college certainly includes endless amounts of cheerful memories, not all of them are as pleasant as throwing a ball around on the campus quad.

College, as a whole, takes us out of our comfort zones. From the moment we move away from home and into the college atmosphere, our communication skills are tested when living with a complete stranger. The expectations in the classroom are much higher than in high school. We are forced to become independent in many aspects of our college lifestyles.

For some students, the transition and constant back-and-forth between being away at school and being at home for breaks is tougher than they may have thought. Between certain eating habits and the emotional roller coaster of remaining sane during the toughest exams, our mental and physical health is important to keep track of as we ease back into the school year.

Mental and physical health bounce off one another. When we are emotional about something, we may deal with that by binge eating, which can affect our physical health. The opposite can also happen. When we are stressed about an exam and cramming in those extra study hours, we may forget to eat because the test preparation has distracted us from our normal routine.

There are so many different ways to balance our physical and mental wellness and stability, but we have to choose what works best for us. For a lot of us, we become overwhelmed with the amount on our plates. Between school work, clubs, sports, jobs and maintaining a healthy social life, we always have a jumbled to-do list in our heads.

Instead of worrying so much about beating the clock with our deadlines and appointments, we need to learn how to prioritize our busy lives. We have to realize that it is nearly impossible to get everything done in one or two days. We’ll end up driving ourselves crazy if we don’t give our brains enough time to rest and take a break. Now, don’t go ahead and binge watch seven hours of Netflix. But taking half hour breaks here and there is a healthy way to start.

According to a study from the journal Cognition, brief diversions vastly improve our focus. Deactivating and reactivating our goals allows us to focus for a longer period of time with fewer distractions while completing our long-term tasks, such as studying for a final exam.

Stress can lead to higher-risk mental states that we may or may not be aware of at times. While in the midst of our congested schedules, we may start to feel alone or anxious. When we start to feel these overwhelming emotions, it’s important to try to deal with them in a healthy manner.

For starters, we seem to lack sleep when juggling our agendas. This is not a new occurrence. A study conducted in 1997 by William Dement, M.D., Ph.D, at Stanford University says that the average college student needs eight hours of sleep per night. Each night that this suggestion is not met, sleep debt is created. The only way to decrease or eliminate this is to acquire more than your required amount of sleep over multiple nights.

Getting the right amount of sleep improves our mental and physical wellness. By sleeping the suggested eight hours per night, we are more driven the following day. We can also avoid weight gain, improve our academic performance and decrease our chance of getting sick.

Going to the gym or taking a walk for just 30 minutes a day can not only improve our physical health, but can also be one of the best ways to clear our minds. Even the smallest amount of physical activity can stimulate our brain power.

There are countless ways to improve our mental and physical health, and it is important to realize when we start to not feel like our true selves. The smallest changes can help us feel better on the outside and the inside.

We can aim to be like the students in the picture-perfect Rider brochures. We can throw a frisbee on the campus green, fool around in the Student Recreation Center and pleasantly study in the library. There is no hiding from some of the harsher realities that can come with the pleasantry of the college lifestyle, but that is for us to figure out outside of the brochure.

The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the opinion editor, Hayley Fahey.

Printed in the 9/13/17 issue.

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