Parkin: Breaking Bad Habits

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Christopher Samuels
Utah Chronicle File Photo

Most of the problems students have spawn from bad habits we’ve developed throughout college, and they tend to make our grades suffer. The snooze button, social media, skipping a class that doesn’t take roll, unhealthy eating, putting assignments off until tomorrow. Sound familiar?

There are three main bad habits that are incredibly common for students these days: social media, lack of sleep and poor eating choices. These habits develop over time and they only get worse in college. But, just like any bad habit, they can be broken.

Social Media

We love our phones. The buzzing, notifications and number of likes we receive are so addicting. Phones help us stay connected, keep track of our busy lives and give us a moment to be swept away by entertainment. On a bigger and more dangerous note, they are a lethal distraction.

However, there are some ways to resist the temptation of technology. For example, there is a magical button on your phone that turns it off. People hardly power off, but it’s really helpful when you need to study for an hour or two without distractions. For young adults, turning off phones or even silencing notifications can be a traumatizing experience because they feel the need for a constant connection. Although, if seeing your screen light up is affecting your grades, turning it off momentarily may help you focus more on the task at hand.

If turning your phone off is not an option because of work or an obligatory need, which I’m venturing to say is the case for most of us, try facing the screen down and putting it far enough away from you so it is out of sight. Even putting your phone in your backpack can help. It creates less of a temptation to look at the lit up screen and become sidetracked.

These are two simple, though possibly traumatizing, ways to ditch the screen. These methods can also help students stay focused on the task in front of them.

Lack of Sleep

Sleep is crucial to a student’s mind. In fact, “without sleep, you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it’s harder to concentrate and respond quickly,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It’s difficult for students to balance homework, work and social lives without sleep. To put it bluntly, the brain can’t function properly without proper rest. As college students, we need our brains to work at least enough for us to graduate with decent grades.

Our bodies need routine. Have you ever noticed after the semester that it takes your body a few days not to wake up at your regular school alarm time even when it’s not set? Our minds and bodies are used to that particular schedule and tend to stick to it.

Waking up at the same time every day will ensure that your body and mind wake up regardless of your schedule. Plus, waking up early will train your body to be sleepier during the evening so that you get to bed at a reasonable hour and stay asleep. Again, our bodies love routine, so train your body to stick to a good sleeping schedule.

Poor Eating

Every one of us is guilty of this in one way or another. Whether it be eating too much or eating too little during the day, nutrition problems are incredibly common during college. Our excuses for poor nutrition most always include one of these: “I have such a busy schedule and I just forget to make time to eat,” or “Ever since I moved away from home, the only affordable things to eat are quick, instant, unhealthy options,” or “I want to stay thin in college, and I don’t have time to exercise, so eating less is the best thing I can do to stay thin.”

These excuses are just that: excuses. Your body should a priority because how you treat it is how it functions.

According to Doris Cancel-Tirado and Leticia Vazquez at Oregon’s Benton County Health Department, “59 percent of college students [have] food insecurities, or some concerns over accessing healthy food options.” Food prices at the supermarket, unhealthy options at the Union and eating out with friends on weekends all relate to this issue.

If you strive for it, 2018 can be a good year. These habits won’t apply to everyone, and if none of them apply to you, you deserve a standing ovation. I will venture to say that at least one of them applies to you. Bad habits can be overcome, but they take patience and dedication. Years spent in college are not easy, but you can succeed if you work hard and motivate yourself to do better each and every day.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

@TheChrony

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