This August, I took the first big step in starting my own life, the same step that many people my age take every year: moving out of my house, and into college. As with any major event, this brought out a host of emotions: uneasiness at embarking on something new, excitement about starting fresh, fear of not fitting in, and a twinge of sadness about not seeing my dog for the next two months. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed.
And yet, as I got into a routine and settled into Tulane, I found that there were other, much more tangible things overwhelming me. The constant opportunity for social activities caused a constant FOMO (fear of missing out), which haunted my days and nights no matter what the circumstances were. Homework assignments, sleep schedule, and other interests and responsibilities all took the back burner in my mind, as developing a social identity at Tulane took priority over all other aspects of my life. While this might be normal for a new student who is eager to put themselves at the heart of many new experiences in college, it’s important to take a minute to think about what’s right for you and consider what you can do to prevent stress when possible. Especially at a school like Tulane with such a vibrant social scene, knowing how to de-stress is crucial.
Every school year is a fresh start, so you might as well use it to shed your old habits and acquire some useful ones that will help you succeed. Start work early, don’t forget to put important dates in your calendar, plan out your days so you can establish a routine that still gives you some freedom and block out time each day for things you just enjoy doing. Planning makes a big difference in the long run, and if you stay on top of things you won’t have to debate whether you should go out or write that essay.
Watch What You Consume
We can joke about the Tulane Ton as much as we like, but what you put into your body can make a big difference in your life. If you need to treat yourself, then by all means do so. But know that eating and drinking poorly on a regular basis will negatively affect your mood and stress levels. Your body’s chemistry can only handle so much junk food and alcohol before your physical and mental health decline.
Focus on Yourself
People are social animals, especially at Tulane. It’s always hard to take a minute and think about your needs. “Me time” is always a good idea if you ever feel like you need it. You can catch up on a show, watch a movie you’ve been dying to see, pay off your sleep debt, curl up with a book or just call friends and family. Of course, not everyone’s needs are the same and some people relax by going out. The choice is yours, but make sure you are doing what is right for you. Focusing on yourself also means looking forward to where you’re headed, rather than where others are. As part of our many flaws, humans have a tendency to constantly compare our situations to others’. Part of taking care of yourself means doing what is best for you, regardless of what anyone else does or thinks.
Taking care of myself first is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way upon arriving at Tulane. I stretched myself too thin and quickly had to take a look at how I was going through college life before things got worse. Stepping back from all the social stimuli and looking inward at what was best for me has made all the difference. Instead of my social life being diminished, I’ve found that it’s been complimented by my self-prioritization.
COVER PHOTO: Justin Haber