The semester has started and your calendar is probably filling up quickly! This is an exciting time, full of new experiences and opportunities, but don’t forget to make time for a very important person…YOU! It’s very easy to overbook your schedule without leaving time to actually take care of yourself. By treating your personal well-being like any other activity or commitment, you can make fitting wellness into your schedule part of your daily routine. Follow our step-by-step guide and start making your wellness a priority today!
Using a calendar or planner is extremely helpful in keeping yourself organized. You schedule your classes, work, meetings, etc., but we also want you to understand that wellness should be scheduled into your daily routine. Don’t start a new calendar for your wellness activities, rather we want you to identify what works for you and get in the routine of also fitting in wellness. If you don’t currently use anything, check out digital calendars like Google Calendar or smart phone applications. You can set-up alerts and share your schedule with other people.
Step 1: Stick to a Sleep Schedule
The first wellness component you need to add to your calendar is your sleep. Yes, you read that right! We want you to schedule your sleep and commit to it! Scheduling your sleep makes it a priority and reminds you to complete your other tasks before the deadline, your bed time. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that young adults aged 18-24 years old get 7-9 hours per night. Want extra credit? Avoid looking at electronic devices at least an hour before bed to ensure that you are getting better quality sleep.
Step 2: Prioritize Time for Exercise & Follow Through
First, ask yourself what type of exercise do I enjoy? Do you like hiking? Great, explore San Diego! Do you like lifting weights? The Aztec Recreation Center is calling your name! Just make sure you are doing some form of exercise you enjoy, because it’s more likely that you remain active down the road.
You’re probably asking yourself, how much time should I schedule for exercise? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking) every week and perform two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities per week (CDC, 2015). As the intensity of the aerobic exercise increases, the recommended weekly time decreases. You can check out the website to see how exercise intensity is determined. If it doesn’t seem like you have room in your schedule for 30+ minutes at a time, research shows that doing 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise 3 times per day is just as effective (CDC, 2015)! Also, remember to fit in activity whenever you can. Try parking across campus from your class, so you can walk farther to give yourself an energy boost before class. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Carry a grocery basket instead of pushing a cart. Get coffee with friends and walk instead of sitting at a table. Every little bit counts!
Once you decide on the type and length of exercise, schedule it into your open time slots and pledge to keep that appointment. You reserved this time to improve your health, don’t let yourself down!
Step 3. Embrace Meal Planning & Prepping
Sometimes eating a balanced diet is easier said than done, but can be more achievable with meal planning and prepping. By setting aside some time each week to plan your meals, go grocery shopping and prep your food, you’re setting yourself up for success. We want this to be enjoyable for you, so Health Promotion has some tips to make eating healthy even easier:
- Keep it simple. When mapping out your meals for the week, find recipes with very few ingredients. This will save you money and cut down the cooking time.
- Shop your kitchen first. Get creative and use what you already have in your fridge and pantry. There’s no point in buying more of what you already have!
- Look for deals. Use the local grocery store ads to find discounts on foods and shop the sales! Check out the Sprouts, Windmill Farms, Vons, and Ralphs weekly deals!
- Buy frozen, ready to cook ingredients. Fresh produce is great, but we don’t always have time to prep and cook it. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great option for quick and nutritious meal additions!
- Cook more than you need. You are already spending time cooking, so make extra to take for lunch the next day or freeze for another day when you are short on time.
Now look at your calendar and find some time that you would like to devote to meal planning, prepping and grocery shopping. Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. Find a routine that works for you and makes eating nutritious meals easier and part of your schedule!
Step 4. Schedule Some Me-Time
Yes, prioritizing yourself is just as important as getting an A on that exam. Don’t forget to take care of your emotional, spiritual and social wellness. This will look different for everyone. If you need some “me time” on campus, the Center for Well-Being is a great place to relax, meditate, read and even sit in a massage chair! Based on your schedule, you may have more time some weeks than others, but always try to squeeze in some time to unwind.
Remember to be patient with yourself as you begin integrating wellness into your schedule. Make small goals that help you develop healthy habits and make them part of your normal routine. Before you know it, making wellness part of your schedule will become second nature and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how much better you’ll feel!
By: Shantille Thompson, MPH, CHES