Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
Opinion is divided over New Year’s Resolutions: Some people make them religiously, while others view them as a waste of time.
Personally, I find them fun.
For me, resolutions provide an opportunity to reflect on my life and identify practical things that I would like to do differently. From these considerations, I always end up trying a new hobby, habit, or experience. Even if I only stick to the habit for a month, or only have one new experience, they are things that I would not have done had I not made resolutions.
Below are four resolutions which are particularly applicable to students, all of which will provide new knowledge or experiences, no matter the frequency with which they are undertaken.
1. Learn to cook a new meal each week
It is well-known that many students cannot, do not, or will not cook. Reasons for this vary from time management difficulties to lack of cooking experience. A survey by Sainsbury’s supermarkets found that nearly half of school leavers do not know how to make an omelette.
Despite the good intentions of many students in September, by mid-October, looming deadlines reduce culinary finesse to pasta with pesto.
Consequently, the new year and new semester provide an opportunity to reinvigorate the cooking aspirations of students.
Learning to cook a new meal each week or month has many assets. Unlike pesto pasta, for example, recipes aim to be nutritionally varied, benefiting both short- and long-term health. Furthermore, as well as developing a life skill, cooking can be mindful, creative, and social. The actions of following a recipe can bring one to the present moment; sampling and adapting new cuisines can be exciting; and sharing the fruits of one’s work with friends can be fulfilling.
Looking for inspiration? Try the student section of BBC Good Food.
2. Attend an evening lecture
Universities host many evening lectures that are open to the wider student body or the general public. These are given by either lecturers from the university, guest lecturers from other universities, or non-academic experts in the field.
When else in one’s life are such rigorous academic resources so readily available and conducive to one’s schedule? (I would conjecture never.)
Going to a lecture in one’s subject area can broaden one’s background knowledge and invigorate one’s interest. Conversely, going to a lecture in an alien subject area can identify extracurricular curiosities to be pursued.
Either way, one is guaranteed to learn something that one did not know before.
3. Get out of the city
Many universities are situated in cities or large towns. While one of the allures of this is easy access to amenities and entertainment, it can have the detriment of keeping students from adventuring beyond the city bounds.
An extensive study by the University of Derby found that increased exposure to and connection with nature has profound effects on one’s health and happiness. Importantly, not only is well-being raised while in nature, but for significant periods after spending time engaging with it.
While most students do not have cars while at university, buses and trains provide ample transport to nearby villages or countryside.
Nature is an easy, free, and abundant way to increase one’s well-being and explore the beautiful world in which we live.
4. Get (efficiently) up-to-date
Staying abreast of world events can feel tricky. As technology advances and becomes faster, the amount of available news seems to grow exponentially. At times it can feel like the white noise of information is hurtling towards one from all sides. Under this ceaseless barrage, it can be tempting to turn away from current affairs altogether.
Fortunately, in conjunction with increasing access to news, new services are streamlining the most relevant stories into convenient portions. Email newsletters identify and simplify the most prominent news stories, allowing for convenient and concise reading in one’s inbox each day or week.
Staying connected in this way is both intellectually stimulating and useful. Employers often seek political or commercial awareness among potential applicants as this demonstrates interest and awareness of the context in which one’s work will be carried out.
Three email newsletters to try are:
BBC News Daily — a daily email of the top stories.
Finimize — a daily economics update of the main two fiscal stories, which can be read in under three minutes.
The Week in Good News — a weekly newsletter from The New York Times of happy news stories to brighten one’s day.
Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.
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