By Heeral Shivnani
College is a testing time for many and keeping well-- both physically and mentally-- often becomes a great challenge. We are talking about some seriously big changes that need to be tackled for not just undergraduate freshman, but for students at every stage of their education. So, just like being proactive for summer internships is a no-brainer, being a step ahead in taking care of yourself shouldn't be any less important.
And sometimes, the control bar might be tipping over despite seemingly doing everything right: eating healthy, working out, sleeping a minimum of seven hours, and so on and so forth. In such instances, simply being aware of the possible loopholes ahead of time will prove key. Thus, with three years of college wisdom under my belt, I have attempted to compile an "insider's guide to wellness" that I wished I had been clutching as I walked through Sather gate three years ago.
Hope it proves useful!
More than time management, it's about energy management.
Do you find yourself drinking more than two cups of coffee every day of the week, despite planning to the tee every scheduled class, assignment, meal time, and social activity at least a week in advance by means of obsessive color coding? These are signs that maybe time isn't the issue, but really the division and distribution of your energy is.
Try this: While you focus on finalizing your classes by week two, simultaneously assess when during the day and where on or around campus you are the most productive. By allocating a time and space for your primary academic work, you have the ability to relax and socialize guilt-free.
Taking great care of yourself takes energy too — a lot of energy. And the truth is, at a place like Cal, no matter how much you do, it will never seem to be enough. In spite of that, you are going to have to start somewhere and it should not have to be after college.
Well-planned digital media avoidances might be a good idea.
Given the huge extent to which social media has penetrated our daily lives, I doubt there is any practical way to completely escape them. Be it for organizing meetings for your class group projects, promoting your club's events or simply networking to further your career -- it serves to be a very important tool. However, remembering “everything in moderation” is key. Anxiety, depression, shortening of attention spans and free-radical damage caused by cellphone radiation are growing concerns tied to increased usage of smartphones and other digital devices. Oh, and did I forget, the immense strain on your eyes, back, neck and posture?
Luckily, there are some effective ways to minimize the amount of time you spend on your phone at least:
Know that your closest friends might change over time, and it's normal.
Every semester at Cal brings new characters into your life; you will find yourself constantly shuffling between friend groups. While this might seem like a worrying notion, for many students it is a completely natural byproduct of university life.
Sometimes, old friends disappear and do their own things— it’s fine to embrace that change. Anytime you feel ignored, distanced, or disconnected, remember that everyone is going through the same struggle of figuring out what on earth is going on. And maybe in trying to do so, they just got embroiled in other things.
The best way to frame your mind if this happens to you? Just think of yourself to be the protagonist of a (hit, obviously) TV show with new characters being introducing every season. You'll do just fine.
You'll tend to underestimate the time each task will take.
Be it an academic task, or an administrative one. Be it forming a meaningful friendship, or maintaining an existing one.
None of these seem to be fulfilled in just the click of a button. Your amazon prime order of toilet paper will often reach faster than you'll manage to get any of these things done.
But fact is, that's the speed of at which these specific things work in real life.
As unlikely as it seems, UC Berkeley will make sure you learn how to operate outside of this bubble. And halfway into your four years here, I promise you will figure out a way to carve out plenty of time for important tasks, having known what it takes for you to complete them to satisfaction.
It IS fine to take a break (Yes, even at Cal).
Don’t let anyone’s methodologies shackle your own knowledge of what is right and wrong. The biggest mistake I made sophomore year was to think that just like some of my peers, my body too could take prolonged hours of stress, without breaks. Surely, I had to bear the inevitable consequences on both my mental and physical well-being.
How do you know you need a break? Everybody experiences a unique impact of stress. Breathlessness, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, stomach cramps, altering blood pressure, excessive urination, loss of appetite, and acne breakouts are just some of the common tell-tale signs of being stretched too thin.
Through any of these manifestations, if your body stressors sends you a signal that you need to go home, nap, make your own meal (which can be much healthier and less expensive), eat, talk to a friend, dance like nobody’s watching, and then get back to campus, SO BE IT. You may need to stay a little longer than you had originally planned to on campus, but listening to you body will do your wellness a lot of good in the long run.
Understand that Berkeley will challenge you, day in and day out.
It's good to remind yourself that being at a such a competitive school is a choice you made. Keeping this in mind will soften the blow of getting a lower grade than expected in a super hard course. In other words, make sure you are OK with the academic rigor of Berkeley and are pumped up to spend considerable hours in the library.
This will only help make sure you end up wholly cherishing every moment and being happy once you step foot at Cal. The bitter truth? No one else can take responsibility for your happiness.
For I think I just found what the most important factor governing your wellness might be: you, yourself, and no one else.
About the Author: Heeral Shivnani
"As a rising senior studying nutrition science and dietetics at Cal, and serving the Multicultural Community with varying needs, I have begun to see wellness more holistically than ever before. Starting KABIRA at Berkeley was an attempt to create a platform where people from different cultures can share their stories about food, beautiful things, well-being ideas that all serve one purpose: providing the world a collection insights for bettering the way we lead our lives."
Contributing Artist: Evita Basilio
A Registered Dietician and health enthusiast residing in Edmonton,
Canada, Evita loves creating cheerful watercolor artworks in
her spare time. Check out more of her collection at @evitabasilio.rd