Tuesday, August 15, 2017

10 Healthy Habits to Form in College

It's that time of year again! In just a few days I will be heading back up to college for my senior year (woot woot!), and I know that many other students are getting ready to or have already started school for their new semesters. With the new semester opening up once again, it's time to start implementing some good habits.

Whether you are a brand new college freshman or a veteran senior who knows the ropes, these ten habits are some that you are not going to want to skip out on!

#1. Don't Neglect Devotions

Make sure that you stay in the Word of God and be devoted to studying it every day. You may or may not get spiritually fed the same way as you do when you are at your home church, especially if you are used to some good solid teaching and preaching, so be sure to spend your personal time with God. This is especially important to do if you attend a secular college or university. There will be a lot of ungodly influences, so take extra care to be sure you are well equipped with the Word so you can not only flee temptation to sin, but have the knowledge to be able to live in a way that is pleasing to God.

The best times to have personal devotions is in the morning and at the end of the day before you go to bed.

When you wake up, spend time in the Word of God and in prayer so that you will be prepared to face the day with whatever challenges may come. You will begin the day with the right heart-set and have some verses to hold onto throughout the day that you can apply to your everyday life. If you find some verses that particularly stand out to you in your devotions, write them on an index card and carry them around with you throughout the day so that you will be sure not to forget them. You will also find that God has an amazing way of meeting our specific needs with Scripture and most likely what you read in the morning will come back to you in some kind of event that same day, or maybe even a few days or more later.

Before you go to bed, spend time in the Word to review your day. Find out where you sinned against God or what He did to meet specific needs that day. Confess any wrongs and give thanks for what God has done for you. You will end the day as you began it, with the right heart attitude. Meditate on the Word as you fall asleep and get excited for the next morning's devotion time.

Spend time throughout the day reviewing your devotions in your heart and really set your heart and mind on things above. It takes a lot of work, but it is a habit that should be formed!

#2. Wake Up Early

The morning is the best time to get things done. Ever wonder why most classes are held in the morning rather than at night? Because you function better in the morning, at least I know I do.

It might take some changes of your personal lifestyle to get this habit formed (like, go to bed earlier). Waking up early allows you to have your personal time with God in devotions, gives you time to eat a good breakfast, and also can give you some time to get extra homework done! Besides, who likes rushed mornings? Wouldn't you rather just be able to take it nice and slow? Well, good news! You can, you just have to wake up earlier!

(Plus you can be sure that you won't miss that eight o'clock morning session.)

#3. Get Moving!

Exercise! Get your blood pumping and get those muscles working!

Being in college means a lot of sitting. Sitting in class, sitting at meals, sitting to get homework done, sitting to play games with friends, sitting to watch the basketball game... whatever you do you just sit a lot. If you don't have time (or motivation) to do a huge five hour workout, just do a few minutes of toning exercises once or twice a day. My personal routine literally takes less than ten minutes every morning, and it is enough to get me woken up for morning devotions and energized for the rest of the morning. Plus, your body just needs to be challenged. Find a routine that works for you and be sure to get your exercise!

#4. Drink Lots of Water

Water is a college student's best friend. Drink a lot of it.

Water is so essential for your body and mind to function properly. It can do so many great things for you, like help stop headaches, make you feel full so you don't have to snack all the time, make some of those leg cramps go away, give you energy during that afternoon slump, and even help you be able to focus better in class. It can also do things like make your hair look healthier, keep your skin more hydrated, and help you hit those high notes better in choir without straining your voice. Just research all the things that water can do for your body, it will blow you away.

It is really easy to start drinking more water. You only need a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day, and the average glass is about 16 ounces, so you need about four of those glasses a day. Always try to go a bit more, though, it's good for you!

There are a lot of options out there for different water bottles and water consumption trackers, so find something that you will enjoy carrying around with you to classes. In my experience, drinking water in class is about the best time to make sure you are getting hydrated. In between notes during a lecture, just take a few sips of water. It's not there just for when you are thirsty, go ahead and drink up. Most colleges have drinking fountains and bottle filling stations that you can stop by in between classes to fill up your water bottle again. They are there for you, please use them!

#5. Take Notes in Class

Seriously, you will remember those things on that exam much better than you would if you hadn't taken notes. Plus in a few years down the road will might want to remember whatever your teacher is lecturing about. They have your classes for a reason, you know. They aren't just trying to dump a bunch of worthless knowledge that you'll never use again on you, they are trying to prepare you for your future. Take notes!

If you are a systematically organized type of person, use bullet points to organize your notes. If you are a visual and creative type of person, use pictures and colors in your notes to give you a bit of a "memory hook" that you can easily tie facts to so you can remember them better later on. Or use a combination of a lot of things! Organize according to color pens or paper, use stickers and sticky notes, whatever works for you. Make it fun and get engaged in the lecture, you'll be thankful for it later on.

#6. Work Ahead

If your teacher gives you a syllabus, start working on the homework assignments. Especially if you have a bunch of reading that needs to be done by the end of the semester, get it done early. I always aim to get all my reading done within the first month of a new semester, it gives me that much more time to work hard on other projects like papers and exams. And with all that homework out of the way, you don't have to feel guilty about spending that time with friends or reading that pleasure book.

And you know what is even better? You'll have that much more time for devotions.

#7. Pray Often

College is challenging. You can't do it alone, you really do need to depend on God to help you. We are commanded to pray continually (1 Thess. 5:17) as well as to be devoted to prayer (Colossians 4:2). Take your prayer life seriously. Set time aside specifically for prayer, it could be during your devotions if you wish. Find ways to pray without distractions during this time if possible. I have found that keeping a prayer journal helps me to keep my mind from wandering during my prayers as well as lets me go back and see how God has answered my prayers.

Pray in your heart throughout the day. Talk to God as you walk from class to class or stand in the cafeteria line. Talk to Him while you do homework or when you are exercising. He is always available at all times of the day and He does want to hear you talk to Him.

#8. Balance Time Wisely

Use to-do lists to help you keep on track for what needs done. Be able to have time for work, but also leave some time to socialize or have a little bit of relaxing fun. However, don't prioritize fun over work. You need to find a balance and believe me, it will help you have a positive college experience.

#9. Snack Healthy

If you must snack, eat something healthy. I know that junk food is cheaper and sometimes tastier, but it is not very good for your body or mind. Healthier foods will help you to not feel sick and can give you a bit more energy that you need to get through the day.

#10. Go To Bed!

I know that college students joke about this a lot and say that they practically run on coffee, but it doesn't have to be that way. You do need sleep, about eight hours every night. Do your best to get sufficient sleep every night. It is understandable that some nights you just have to stay up and finish your homework, but that doesn't have to be a continuous habit. Less sleep makes it so much easier for you to get sick and miss a lot of classes, which honestly is wasting a lot of your money. Make sure you get the most out of what you are paying to attend classes.

A well-rested body functions much better than a sleep-deprived body. When you keep yourself from getting sufficient rest, not only do you hurt your own body, but you also risk hurting your relationship with the people around you. When you don't get enough sleep, you are much more likely to be grumpy, stressed out, unhappy, and prone to complaining. You could easily snap at people or get very angry, fall into temptation and sin, and discourage the people around you. It effects everyone you come in contact with. Trust me, I've seen it for three years.

Just be sure to get the sleep you need. And if you can't, be extra careful to depend on God to give you the strength to trust Him, deal well with the people around you, and get your studies done at the same time.

I hope that you have found these ideas to be useful. I know how well they work for me personally and I highly encourage forming these habits for yourself. You will find that when you do these things, your college experience will be much more enjoyable and positive.

In Christ,

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