Welcome Back From The Outlook

Welcome back to classes, everyone! It is so wonderful to see the campus come back to life after a long and relaxing summer. The rush of the first week is always a whirlwind. Trying to find classes, catch up with friends, getting all your syllabi, and settling back into an academic routine is always draining. Here is a guide to figure out what works for you and how you can make this Monmouth year your best one yet.

Your Space
Setting up an oasis for yourself to retreat to and recharge in is one of the foundations of taking care of yourself throughout the stressful academic season. Whether you live on campus, at the Bluffs, in an off-campus rental or in your family home, having a dedicated space to escape from work is a great way to balance yourself. In your day-to-day life, it is important to establish boundaries between your working space and your living space.

If you are working in a space where you are meant to be able to relax (a dorm room, for example), you may be distracted by your relaxing surroundings. You may also develop an anxious relationship with these surroundings, as you begin to associate them with stressful homework and deadlines. Monmouth has many study areas and plenty of nooks and crannies to hide away into and get your work done without having to struggle through distractions and anxiety by working where you sleep. You can find great study spaces in the Great Hall Lobby, the Student Center Lounge, and the Guggenheim Memorial Library. If it’s a warm, sunny day, you can even snag one of the many outdoor tables on campus.

Your Mind
Just like you should keep your living space organized and separate from each other, it is also a good idea to declutter your mind. There are many ways your mind can become cluttered; you could be preoccupied by a personal problem, or struggling to hold all your schedule at the same time. The advice for all these issues is the same; write it out.

Journaling is a proven way of releasing things that have become cramped in your mind. Journaling is such a powerful tool that one study in the Scientific American even suggest writing out your feelings can help prepare your body better and help wounds heal faster. Try to get whatever is occupying you out onto the page, and you will have more room to considers solutions instead of turning over the facts again and again.

Making a To-Do list is also a wonderful way of emptying your mind out onto the page, giving you back the room in your mind that was being taken up and reallocating that to working on what needs doing. Similarly, holding all your commitments and dates in your brain is a surefire way to miss or forget one of them; it is like trying to balance several plates at once— eventually, one is going to shatter.

Now, you could always split all your commitments across several calendar apps, sticky notes, and reminders on your phone, but personally I prefer the old-fashioned schedule planner. Having a physical manifestation of what you need to get done and where you need to be will help your goals feel less amorphous and encourage you to achieve your goals.

Jevon Melvin, a senior English student, has some advice for students, “Remain vigilant, take responsibility for your desires and goals, and stick with them until you achieve what you want.” The only one able to change your life and direction is yourself. Keep your hands on the wheel and steer your mind towards what you need.

Your Body
There are a few things the human body needs to stay fully functioning throughout the stress of the college lifestyle: food, exercise, and sleep. It can be very tempting to skip meals in college, especially when you have so much work on your plate that taking a break to eat feels like ignoring your responsibility.

What this mindset fails to consider however, is that the brain needs caloric intake to function. In the end, skipping meals will only make your energy and quality of work dip. Also, no, an iced coffee is not a lunch (you know who you are).

You should also try to avoid doing homework while you eat. Though you may feel the need to multitask at times, meals should be a stress-free time to take a break. So, if you grabbing food in the Student Center or Dining Hall, try to schedule time with a friend rather than pulling out your laptop to do homework.

College can be a difficult time to work in fitness. It is easy to become more sedentary as the days get shorter and the work begins to pile up, but it is important to work against this to remain healthy. Exercise is one of the top things recommended by doctors and counselors to help ease stress and improve overall life function.

For adults 18 to 64 years old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as taking a walk, and engaging in muscle strengthening exercises about twice a week. This may seem like a daunting amount of time to work into an already busy schedule, but if you think about how much time you already spend walking around campus, it wouldn’t be too hard to take the scenic route around Pollak every once in a while and enjoy some of the natural benefits of Monmouth’s campus and getting your blood pumping.

The final component, sleep, is probably the most important to the success of a young adult. Sleep is the building block for everything that the days will pile on top of you. Far too many students shirk this off and stay up late in the evenings to finish large amounts of work. One study by Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) recommends getting between seven and ten hours of sleep for young adults, but they also specify that it is less about the amount of time you sleep than it is about the quality of your sleep. Some tips they have for improving sleep quality include establishing a sleep routine, turning off electronics about a half an hour before going to sleep, and creating an anxiety-free sleeping area unclogged by day-to-day worries.

Your Spirit
While the primary reason for attending a university is to get a quality education, it is important to not let it dominate your life completely. Allowing yourself to take some guilt-free time off and engaging with the social scene at college is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Maintaining your friendships and finding people you can rely on who can relate to your problems is a great way to acknowledge that many people share the same problems and they’re all willing to commiserate and help you whenever you need. One surefire way to find people with similar interests to yours is to join and explore the many student clubs at Monmouth.

Sarah Van Clef, a graduate student in the Creative Writing MFA program and current Editor-in-Chief for our on campus literary magazine the Monmouth Review, said, “I recommend students try everything…the possibilities in college are endless, and you never know who you might meet that will change not only your future career, but also your life.”

Other students who spoke to The Outlook raved about the clubs and activities they have been involved in during their time at Monmouth. Many cited these activities as the best part of their experience here and encouraged anyone not involved to find something perfect for their interests. The Involvement Fair, taking place on Wednesday, Sept. 14, is the perfect time to find a club or group that speaks to you.

College is what you make of it, so use your time wisely and make these years the best of your life so far. One final piece of advice is from Alex Mykulyn, a junior political science student, “Be brave. Opportunities to do it come every single day. Find them and capitalize on them.”