The new year is finally here! Some of you might be looking forward to 2021 with renewed hope, while others are dreading the possibility of more uncertainty and confusion. If you’re not sure how to react, you’re not alone.
We know what you’re probably thinking: another list of resolutions isn’t what you need right now. Especially when you’ve barely caught your breath from last year’s events! But here’s the thing—there are no obligations. You’ve already survived 2020, and that’s one of the greatest accomplishments there is. Congratulations, you’ve made it!
With a renewed perspective on life and the dawn of a new (and hopefully better) calendar year, 2021 is the perfect time for students to focus on what really matters and appreciate the simple things. Be gentle with yourself this year, and take the time to care for your body and mind.
Have a goal you want to accomplish? Start with baby steps.
There’s a reason most students give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. When you try to commit to something big over the course of an entire year, it can be exhausting and overwhelming. Pacing yourself by setting smaller goals and deadlines along the way can make it easier to accomplish your resolutions.
If your goal is to start running, don’t attempt a marathon on your first day. Start with 20 minutes of varied sprinting and walking, then increase your goals as you improve. If your goal is to learn a language, set realistic standards for how many vocabulary words you hope to learn every month. Use a notebook or planner to record your progress, and celebrate the little milestones! Small steps can make all the difference in achieving something for yourself this year.
Don’t do it alone—find a friend.
Whatever you hope to accomplish in 2021, teaming up with someone else will likely make it easier and more enjoyable. It can be a friend, family member, significant other, classmate or even a recent acquaintance. You can work on the same goals together, or simply keep each other accountable on your progress for different goals. Check to see if your university has virtual or in-person clubs, study groups or events to meet other students. After a year of lockdowns, quarantine and social distance, it’s more important than ever to have community! Working toward something together is the perfect way to stay connected.
Consider the benefits of therapy.
If you’ve never talked to a therapist before, this might be the year to start! The past year affected students across the globe with its unprecedented events and uncertainty, some more than others. Seeing a therapist can help with processing and recovery.
The stigma that therapy is only for people with severe mental illnesses or childhood trauma can cause hesitation, but studies show that therapy can be beneficial for everyone—especially students. Along with helping you to develop healthy coping mechanisms and develop introspective habits, therapy can lead to an overall happier and more fulfilling perspective on life, helping you to excel in all aspects.
Skip the gym and find a workout you actually enjoy.
You’ve probably seen the articles by now: “10 Ways to Lose that Quarantine Weight”, “How to Get in Shape for 2021”, and so on. Fitness companies love to prey on students’ insecurities, and the start of a new year is a target time for advertising weight loss plans. Now more than ever, it’s important to remember that a little weight gain can be healthy! We’ve all had to adjust to a slightly different lifestyle over the past year, and however your body processes that is okay.
On the other hand, it’s important to take care of yourself by moving your body. Studies show that the benefits of exercise include sharper memory, a healthier heart and an increase in dopamine and serotonin levels, which help to reduce anxiety and increase happiness. With some gyms still closed, this year is the perfect time to find an exercise that sparks joy. Whether it’s running, hiking, dancing or rock climbing, find a workout activity and have fun with it!
Make social media a healthy space instead of an overwhelming one.
After a year of everything virtual, many of us have spent more time on social media than ever before. Our feeds are so often immersed in negativity, and zoom calls have led many students to become uncomfortably acquainted with their own appearances. It’s easier than ever to compare ourselves to photos on Instagram or to get caught up in ruthless Twitter debates.
While it can be addictive, social media doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When used correctly, it can educate and inspire you. This year, try curating your social media feeds. Unfollow accounts that aren’t beneficial to you, that post negativity and misinformation, or that damage your self-esteem. Social media can open a world of information about art, culture, tips and current events! That being said, be sure not to streamline only to your own perspective. In such a polarized world, it’s more important than ever to read and watch media you disagree with, as long as it’s a healthy and respectful discussion. Being a student is about more than book smarts—it’s about listening to others’ opinions and thinking critically for yourself.
Nourish your mind with books or podcasts.
There are so many more ways to learn than just in the classroom. Make 2021 the year that you expand your mind and learn about the things that interest you! Check out new genres from the library or try nonfiction instead of a novel. If reading isn’t your thing, listen to an audiobook or podcast while you work on something else. Knowledge is power, and we happen to live in a world where information is available at our fingertips. Don’t let it go to waste!
Be intentional about keeping in touch.
The frequent quarantines and lockdowns of 2020 made it a lonely year for a lot of students. Though virtual contact isn’t the same as talking in person, take this year to be intentional about how you keep in touch. Check in with loved ones or let them know you’re thinking about them. FaceTime that friend or family member. Have a Zoom call reunion. We know how lonely it can get, so don’t forget to stay connected!
If you want to be extra intentional in your relationships, send letters. You never know how much a handwritten note can mean to someone! That extra personal touch can make all the difference, and a small activity like that might be just what you need to stay engaged with the ones you love.
Find simple ways to spend time outdoors.
You’re probably tired of being cooped up at your desk all day, especially if you’re taking online classes. This year, make time to go outside. Even if your school is in the heart of a city, start searching for bits of nature. Maybe there’s a park down the street. Your university campus might have a walking path or you might live only a short drive from some hiking trails. Even a walk around the block once a day can be beneficial. Never underestimate the healing power of fresh air and sunlight!
Begin a creative hobby for the fun of it.
In modern society, there’s a lot of pressure to do something only if you can master it. But being a student is all about exploring the things you’re interested in. The word amateur comes from the latin word for love; it means doing something for the love of it. This year, find an activity that you love—you don’t have to be good at it. Find a way to express yourself without the pressure! You could try painting, learn a new instrument, take blurry photos of beautiful places, write messy poetry in the notes app or dance to your favorite playlists. Destroy the notion that you have to be skilled at something in order to make it a hobby, and make this the year you do something creative simply because you want to.
The year may be off to a rocky start, but it’s a new start all the same. Our goal at StudentRoomStay is to make planning for the new year as easy and enjoyable as possible. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need help sorting out your housing situation for 2021, don’t be afraid to reach out. We’re here to assist our students in whatever ways we can, so feel free to contact us!