planning ahead

If You Want To Be, It Is Possible to Become A Morning Person

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Back in my elementary school days, being a morning person came easily. I remember waking up at 6 or 7 am in order to hang out with my older siblings. But with each new grade, getting up early became more and more of a nightmare. By the time I was in high school and had to be ready by 7 am every day, I thought I would never be energized again.

In college, we have the luxury of making our own schedules. Though I still tend to go for the early side so I’m not stuck in class until 9 pm, many students opt to start classes in the afternoon and not finish until it’s dark outside. While it might be nice to sleep in, we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable real world where we’ll need to be at work in the early hours of the day.

Have no fear! You can be a morning person without having to sacrifice sleep or going to bed when your grandparents do. Many of you may feel like you’re a night owl: at night, you’re most productive and motivated. Maybe for you all-nighters are a norm. While it’s great you’re getting your work done, wasting an entire day and having to spend your nights working will not only mess up your social life, but will get you in a bad groove for the 9-5 job you’ll likely have one day. So, it’s time to embrace the daylight.

Tip #1: Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
It may sound simple enough, but waking up at the same time each morning, including the weekend, can be a tough habit to get into. Setting your alarm for 8 am every day and actually getting up when it sounds will take getting used to. At first, your body will protest. Your fingers will inch toward the snooze button and your eyes will immediately shut themselves again. But the more you force yourself to get up at the alarm, the easier it will be. Better yet, the more regularly you get up at this time, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep at the same reasonable hour every night. You can even make this step easier by gradually changing your rise time, pushing it forward 15 minutes every few days until you reach the desired wake up call.

Tip #2: Lights On
You know those days when you’re laying in bed after a long night, and the afternoon sun just won’t stop glaring through the windows, effectively keeping you from sleep? Well, now you can no longer curse the sun—or your regular bedroom light—because it is key in becoming a morning person. Light helps control our sleep schedules: we (hopefully) feel more tired when it’s dark, and the light starts to make us alert and awake. By either leaving your blinds open when you sleep, or putting a light on right away, this will effectively help keep you awake so you can begin your day.

Tip #3: No Late Night Coffee or Food Binges
Though as college students facing high stress especially during exams, a midnight snack shouldn’t turn into a 3-course meal—and if you want to wake up early, you probably shouldn’t be eating at midnight anyway. Eating large meals late at night will only keep you up longer, as will any Red Bulls or coffee runs. Save coffee for the morning and large meals for during the day and dinner time. This tip will also help you avoid the freshman-but-let’s-be-realistic-anyone-can-gain-weight-in-college 15.

Tip #4: Make Yourself Work To Turn Off the Alarm
By putting your alarm in another room (only do this if it is super loud) or on a desk on the opposite side of the bedroom, you will have no choice but to get out of bed to turn it off. Just like that, you’re a little more energized, a little more awake, and have no choice but to start the day. If you share a room with a roommate, this will further encourage you to get up right away to turn off the persistent ringing—unless you hate your roommate, in which case, you’re on your own.

Tip #5: Think Soothing
When it gets close to bedtime, you need to go into super relaxed mode. No more stressing and thinking about all the to-do’s of tomorrow. No getting caught up in a super lengthy movie that makes you more awake. No exercise that gives you an adrenaline and temperature boost. Instead, it’s all about the calm serene of peaceful sleep. Get a sound machine to lull your eyes closed. Meditate or try some relaxing yoga to ease the mind and relax the body. Take a soothing bath. Do whatever you need to so your eyes are drooping and your mind is quiet.

The road could be long and hard, but don’t give up on your ventures to become a morning person. It is doable and will lead to long, happy days of productivity and fun. Good luck and sweet dreaming!

-ToonyToon

I’m reading Understanding Nursing Research: Building an Evidence-Based Practice

Bounce Back from Winter Break!

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It’s hard to acknowledge that a whole month has passed during Winter Break and many students will try to put off the lingering date of the first class back for as long as they possibly can. But eventually you have to order books, make travel plans, and pack to head back. So how can you bounce back from your winter fun and make the most of your return to the land of college? There are a couple ways to cope with the looming change of pace that you are about to encounter— some may be more productive than others. One option would be to deny the inevitable, kick and scream and lock yourself in your childhood room. It should be noted here that 1. I highly doubt that will work, and 2. Any college “cred” you’ve earned from your parents since you went away might go flying out the window. There has to be another way—A way to return to school without sadness and roaring and ready for yet another semester.

If you follow these few steps, your transition from sleep-ins and free time to textbooks and dorm rooms should be a tad smoother. Remember, break may be fun, but there are plenty of advantages to being back at school too—think cleaning room standards, freedom, curfew (or lack thereof), and staples of a “college” food pyramid. So grab a pen, a piece of paper and break out your rusty note taking hand so you can jot down the important tidbits of getting ready for spring 2012.

Tip #1: Spring Cleaning is not a dated concept
One of the best ways to get ready for back to school—college age or not—is to clean up and clean out. To better prepare yourself for school get rid of clutter and old stuff. Do you have old clothes, shoes, papers, notebooks taking up mountains of space at home and in your dorm room? Make a pact to downsize and start fresh. Throw away old notebooks, donate and sell back old books, and go through old clothes to see what you wear and what you don’t. I can speak from personal experience in the cleaning department. Every time I come home from break I clean out my closet and do a goodwill run. It’s not necessary to do it every break, but let me tell you, it is a huge relief to go back to school feeling like you have your room in order and last season’s drab duds put to better use. Then, when you get back school you are left with only the stuff you wear and use on a regular basis! It makes such a difference and will leave you feeling excited to get going with the semester.

Tip #2: Treat yourself
So you’ve made the effort both at home and at school to de-clutter and simplify, now it’s time to pat yourself on the back and add a little sparkle to your newly cleaned up life. Treat yourself to new school gadgets—a bag, laptop cover, or flash drive—or maybe a fun new outfit that you can’t wait to wear all over campus. For me, I got new kicks—All Star Low-top Converse sneaks—to spice up my wardrobe and convince myself I’m ready to hit the books, looking good and feeling good too!

The same goes for school supplies! Nothing says, “I’m ready for class” like pens and notebooks, all shiny and new! Maximize all that spring-cleaning you did, and reward yourself with a little sparkle and pizzazz for your upcoming courses. By buying new accessories  you will help ease the stress of changing up your routine, and will buffer the boredom that accompanies the start of class. Everyone loves pulling new school supplies out of your tote, and lining up all of your prettiest pens and highlighters to impress the professor! In my opinion, the new school sparkle alone is exciting enough to get me back to class—but that’s just me.

Tip #3: It’s a date… so mark it
Even with the new razzle dazzle pencils, post-its and a clean room ready to go, there can still be a lull in excitement to get the semester started. So the next tip I have for you is get a new planner. Now most calendars end in December (obviously) leaving you room for an upgrade. However, some agendas keep right on rolling through the New Year. It’s up to you, and your organizing preferences of course, what you do next, but here’s my advice. Get a new planner, or agenda and start fresh. Mark all the dates of things coming up in the semester, and even the summer—maybe it’s birthdays that get you going, or formals, or even graduation, but mark it all down! It is way easier to get through class and the semester if you have things to look forward to. Mark down the fun stuff (like I said, birthdays, parties, date night etc.), but also the academic dates—midterms, finals, career fairs, exams, the like. Having everything down on paper will give you a sense of what’s to come and will help you keep on track. Now, if you want to have a little extra fun with this assignment, check the web for fun events going on in your area. Maybe there are some concerts you want to save up for, or a movie that is scheduled to come out, a sporting event you can’t live without seeing, etc. Plan ahead and write it all in your planner. Visualizing is a great way to set goals, make plans, and prepare yourself for what’s to come.

Tip #4: Spring Break bodies are not just for Spring Break…
Now as cliché as it sounds, getting fit is a great New Year’s resolution. It’s easy to over eat and cut back on the exercise routine during break because you can always get serious “next year”. Well the New Year is here, and getting fit is not only a great way to start out the year, but also a great way to start the semester! Have you seen Legally Blonde? If you’re like me, you’ve seen it at least a bagillion times so here’s a little a quote you should remember: “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands”. Most of this quote applies to us college co-eds–endorphins will make you happy and give you more energy to run around campus with your books and what not, and hopefully, for most of us, suppress the urge to shoot anybody. Let’s hope.

But seriously, exercising can help make the saddest of days just a little happier, and put a much-needed pep in every step. It’s the preconceived notion that exercise makes you tired, but in fact, it does the exact opposite! Even if you aren’t into hard core cardio or intense weight work outs give your body some much needed movement. Even walking to the end of campus and back just to get some steps in is a good way to ensure you aren’t staying stationary for too long. You will be able to focus and get more schoolwork done if you aren’t sluggish and tired. Plus, it won’t hurt your spring break plans to tighten up that figure of yours just for fun—no beach required (although booking a trip wouldn’t be bad for your motivation either!)

So all in all, it’s important to remind yourself of all the little bonuses of being back at school. Think positively and remember all the fun times, study parties (and real ones) that are in store for the semester and try to lose the ‘tude when it comes to moving back in. You will love being back as soon as you get reacquainted and settled in. And hey! If all else fails, make plans for the weekend as soon as you get back so you have something to immediately celebrate!

-Ring Queen

I’m reading An Introduction to Literature