5 Ways to Start Your Semester Strong
A lot of times, my stress and anxiety relating to school starts a couple days before a semester even begins. I tend to do this thing where I already start anticipating all the anxiety I'm going to be feeling, which does not put me off to a good start for the first week. I've been in college for almost 4 years now (WOW!) and i've learned that the first day/week of school is usually the time when we want to start fresh and we tend to put a lot of goals and expectations on ourselves. But after the years I've learned different ways that I can star the semester stronger; both academically, socially and of course; mentally.
1. Clear Your Head
At some point during the first week of school, I think it's important to meditate. Ideally before your first day, but even while your in the midst of beginning the semester, it's good to stop, breathe and be mindful for a moment. Especially for me, I'm currently going back to school after almost a month long break, so naturally my body timer is going to have to reset. For some people it's easier to just jump into things without even thinking about it, and that's fine. But I feel like I always need a moment to reflect before I start anything new; a new job, trip and especially, new semester. Meditation is a way to do this, or you can take a moment to journal (or blog -- i.e. what I'm doing right now), make a list (nothing serious; just a couple affirmations and goals for the day/week!) or just take a moment to get up earlier and get your mornign started with some coffee and breakfast. To each it's own -- just let your mind and body reset!
2. Don't Try To Plan Everything
Since I'm a fairly experienced college student, I know that the semester sometimes starts strong as far as my mindset. The days before the first day of school are full of feelings of determination and goals setting; thinking about way I can do better, how I can improve my grades or how I can balance my time better between work/life/school/social life. This is really good, but I've found that when I do this I tend to put such high expectations on myself just in the first week of school. When in reality, the first week of school may not perfect, it'll be overwhelming and I can't expect it to go perfectly. Going back to number 1 of this list, that's why it's good to come into the first semester with a sense of calm and strength; you can do this, but you can't do everything and plan every single thing that may go right or wrong for the next 3-4 months.
3. But...You Can Plan a Little Bit
Okay, so now once you've realized that you can't organize your whole semester right now in this first week, you can make a list of some little things you can do to start off on the right track. Little things like organizing your planner for the week or simply making sure you have enough writing supplies and notebooks that you might need to take notes and reminders throughout the week. The best thing someone told me was on the first week of school to go through the syllabus and either highlight or copy down some of the main due dates. For me, simply highlighting the dates on my syllabus (either digitally or on a printed version) usually works just as well. Or put it on your online calendar -- it won't take too long and it'll instantly make you feel more in control of your life.
4. Reconnect With Friends
Going to a commuter campus, I was worried that I would have trouble making friends and creating a circle of people that are meaningful to me. But as the years have gone by, I've met some amazing people in my programs that support me and give me strength. It's honestly so important to have some people, either your classmates, roommates or people in school organizations with you, who you're able to reconnect with when a new semester starts. It's good to have a group of friends/classmates who you'll be able to enjoy and even suffer through classes, exams and assignments together. So I think the first week is better than any to reconnect with friends, go on a coffee date, and talk about the goals you all have for the semester.
5. Feel Cute
Everyone knows the feeling of wanting to look CUTE AS HELL on the first day of school. Don't deny it. Embrace it. Whether it's the new year or just a new semester, it always feels nice to feel good on the inside AND outside when you're starting something new. So don't hide that -- because we all know there will be low points at some point in the semester where you'll have to roll out of bed in your sweatpants and t-shirt and unbrushed hair -- and that's okay! But a simple mood booster and anxiety reducer for me on the first week is to feel like I have everything together.
Wherever you are in your academic career, I hope your fist day and week is superb, full of hope and kindness -- both to yourself and others! Thanks for reading.