January 2019: Happiness Project Recap

That’s it, folks — the first month of 2019 has officially reached its end. Can you believe it? My January has certainly been a rollercoaster, but thanks to my happiness project, I will leave this month feeling better than when I started it.

At the end of 2018, I was completely exhausted. Between autoimmune issues, a busier than usual workload, and some difficult situations outside of my control, I needed a break — and an attitude adjustment. As part of my happiness project, my theme for the month of January was to boost physical wellnessTo do that, I incorporated the following five daily goals:

  • Embark on a Whole30 to create more intentionality in my food choices and identify any new food sensitivities.
  • Go to sleep earlier.
  • Take a 10-minute walk each day.
  • Act more energetic.
  • Tackle the “nagging tasks” on my list.

Inspired by The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin, I created a resolution chart, giving myself a gold star each day for the goals I accomplished.

Happiness Project Resolution Chart

So how did I do? Well, as can be expected, I fared better in some categories than others. Through my Whole30, I consistently ate nourishing, real foods, while detoxing myself from some of the junk food that my body doesn’t agree with. I managed to lose 10 pounds, clear up my skin, stop getting daily headaches, and decrease overall inflammation.

Acting more energetic allowed me to fake it till I made it on the days when I just didn’t think I had it in me, and I really started to feel more energetic after doing that. The other thing that massively boosted my energy levels was tackling the nagging tasks. 

Happiness Project Resolution Chart

By “nagging tasks,” I’m referring to those pesky but necessary to-do’s in the back of your mind that you don’t particularly want to do but will benefit you in the long run. I always feel like I have a lot of little things that I need to do but don’t have time for, so at the beginning of the year, I made a list of all of those items in an Evernote. Then, each week, I picked a few of those items that absolutely needed to get done, and wrote them down on my dry-erase board on the fridge. Tackling those nagging tasks made a huge difference in my anxiety levels and overall happiness, and I’m excited to bring this goal back into the month of February.

Of course, nobody is perfect, and I did struggle to get those daily walks in (it’s been so chilly out!) and get to bed at a decent hour. These are both areas I need to prioritize in the days to come.

Tomorrow begins the month of February, and this month’s theme is Creating Outer OrderI’m excited to create a life that sparks joy (thanks, Marie Kondo!) and will be implementing the following goals:

  • Follow the one-minute rule. (If it can be done in less than one minute, do it right away.)
  • Spend 10 minutes tidying up before bed.
  • Beware of freebies.
  • Spend time each day de-cluttering problem areas of the house.
  • Tackle the nagging tasks. (It was so effective that I decided to bring it back!)

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

 

2018 Happiness Project

Happy New Year! 🙂 I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is gearing up for an even better 2018. A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, but sometimes a new year can be the perfect starting point to begin incorporating new practices into our lives. Last year, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, in which the author underwent a full year of adopting positive new habits based on happiness research. I loved the book and its practicality so much that I quickly became a fan of Gretchen’s podcast!

Inspired by both the book and the podcast, I decided to take 2018 to create my own happiness project, based on applicable lessons from the book. For the next six months, I will focus on ingraining new healthy practices into my life (and re-ingraining some old ones that have fallen to the wayside!), and will share my results and lessons learned on the blog each month.

Feel free to adopt these practices into your own life from month to month, or create your very own happiness project using the resources from Gretchen’s site. Don’t forget to share your own findings in the comments section!

2018 Happiness Project | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • January 2018: Boost Energy.
    • Practice better sleep hygiene and go to bed earlier.
    • Exercise more often.
    • Go for 15-minute walks before work each morning.
    • Take time to reorganize.
  • February 2018: Focus on Nutrition.
    • Undergo a Whole30.
    • Make time for meal prep every Sunday.
    • Try one new recipe each week.
  • March 2018: Lighten Up & Appreciate the Present.
    • Attempt a “Pollyanna Week” of minimal to no complaining.
    • Keep a one-sentence journal.
    • Practice gratitude each day.
  • April 2018: Reevaluate Finances.
    • Look over my monthly budget and find areas to cut back.
    • Organize coupons and gift cards for more efficient use.
  • May 2018: Make Time for Friends.
    • Prioritize social time with friends.
    • Don’t gossip.
    • Show up.
  • June 2018: Pursue a Passion.
    • Dedicate more time to writing and blogging.
    • Submit an original piece to a new publication.
    • Work on learning a new technology.

What are your resolutions for 2018? Share in the comments section below!

Your Health in Action: Small Changes You Can Make in 2018

Your Health in Action: Small Changes You Can Make in 2018The end of the year is quickly approaching, and if you’re anything like me (and millions of other people worldwide), you’re probably hard at work on your list of resolutions for 2018. Many of us are after the same things, but without concrete goals and strategies for achieving those goals, we are likely to abandon our resolutions before we even reach the month of February.

Health-related achievements are one of the most popular — if not the most popular — new year’s resolutions we set for ourselves. Whether we are looking to lose weight, run a marathon, or demonstrate Gaston-level feats of strength, we often aim to improve our overall health and wellness at this time of year.

In order for us to accomplish these goals, it is important for us to make changes we can stick to. While major transitions (like embarking on the Whole30 or adopting an intense fitness regimen) can have a significant impact on our health, let’s not forget about some of the small changes we can implement in our lives as well! Check out a few of my tips for ways to improve our health in 2018, and share your own in the comments section below.

  • Drink more water.
    Experts say that we should be drinking half our bodyweight in ounces of water each day. Drinking enough water will keep you fuller longer, boost your metabolism, hydrate your skin, and provide a myriad of other health benefits. Invest in a cute water bottle or tumbler that you can refill throughout the day for easy access, and consider swapping soft drinks or other beverages for water when dining out.
  • Meditate and practice gratitude.
    Spiritual and mental health are arguably just as important as your physical health, and can ultimately help you achieve your goals by relieving stress and encouraging self-awareness. Meditate for just a few minutes a day with some ambient music (my artist suggestions: The Album Leaf or Eluvium), or search for “5-minute meditation” options on Spotify for an instant boost. You can also choose to keep a gratitude journal to remind you of the things you’re grateful for.
  • Dedicate time to meal prep.
    I’ve written about the merits of #MealPrepSunday before, but they are absolutely worth another mention. Cooking three healthy, Instagram-worthy meals each and every day (from scratch, of course!) is no easy feat when you’re also juggling work, school, a social life, and other obligations. However, it is much easier to eat healthy throughout the week when you’ve chopped/mixed/cooked ahead of time. I love to spend a few hours on Sundays zoning out to reality TV while chopping veggies — it saves me a ton of time later in the week when my other responsibilities pop up.
  • Incorporate essential oils into your life.
    Essential oils are derived from plants and yield a variety of health benefits! I diffuse  a mixture of lavender and peppermint in my home to help ward off headaches, and use lemongrass in the kitchen to assist with cleaning. As someone who struggles with eczema, I often use tea tree oil to relieve any inflammation after a breakout. Do your research to find out which essential oils may benefit you!

Looking for more ideas on how to improve your health in 2018? Elysium Health has compiled a helpful infographic with tips from wellness bloggers (including yours truly!), along with solutions to your diet, exercise, and sleep problems. For more information from Elysium, check out their research on NAD+ and how it can preserve our health.

Infographic from Elysium Health

What are your wellness tips for 2018? Share with us in the comments section!

Adventures in Florida: Be a “Resolutionary”

I stopped by the East End Market in Orlando a few weeks back as part of my 25 at 25 Bucket List Challenge. Ever since it opened back in 2013, I have heard great things about the market’s merchants and cool, artsy atmosphere. When I turned 25, I decided that a visit to the market was a must.

East End Market

For my first visit, I decided to check out one of the East End Market’s classes — and my selection did not disappoint. My friend Beth and I attended an expo event called Be A Resolutionary!, which provided free classes throughout the morning and early afternoon. The classes were mainly centered on health and wellness, and were designed for those hoping to stick to their New Year’s resolutions (hence the name “resolutionary”). 🙂

We started with an hour-long barre class. I’m no stranger to yoga or pilates, but this class kicked my butt! I learned that it’s a great way to work out those small muscles you don’t usually focus on, but maybe not the best exercise option if you haven’t worked out in a while. (I could barely walk for the next few days!) Still, it was a fun experience — the energy was upbeat and positive, and there were modifications for all comfort levels. (I just happen to be stubborn and don’t always modify my exercises when I should.)

After the class, we hobbled over to the courtyard for the first presentation of the day. “How To Live, Love and Move” by Nikki Blanton from Our Sole Intent was a great reminder of the importance of movement throughout the day, and she focused on the power of connection through your body, your heart and the Earth. The presentation also piqued my interest in essential oils, which I’ll be attending another seminar on later today!

Skyebird Juice Bar | East End Market

After the presentation, we popped into Skyebird’s Juice Bar for smoothies. I tried Skye’s Fave, a mix of almond milk, kale, banana, blueberries and chia seeds, and it was a delicious pick-me-up! We loved our smoothies and appreciated the Mason jars they came in, which we were able to keep. The juice/smoothie bar is vegetarian and vegan — perfect for those trying to avoid dairy, which can be difficult at a lot of smoothie places.

We visited two other presentations throughout the day as well. “Greening Up Your Home,” hosted by Porch Therapy, focused on the health benefits of having plants in your home. As someone with a lot of allergies and a not-so-great immune system, this was definitely something that appealed to me. I had no idea that there could be so many toxic chemicals like formaldehyde in our homes, or that indoor plants could make you both happier and healthier. A houseplant will be one of my next purchases, and I’m excited to learn how to care for it!

We ended the day with “Resolve to Eat Healthy” with Dr. Samadhi Artemisa. I really enjoyed her food demo (I had never tried a kumquat before!) and learning about heirloom plants and the importance of eating locally. Her presentation definitely encouraged me to start looking for local farmer’s markets to get the most nutritional bang for my buck, and I was excited to learn more about how to keep my body healthy.

Overall, we had a fantastic time at the East End Market, and I’m looking forward to my next visit! 🙂

Readers, have you ever taken a class at the East End Market? What are your bucket list goals for the year? Share in the comments section below!

Link Love THURSDAY: Happy New Year!

happy-new-yearYup, you read the title correctly – today has turned into a special Link Love Thursday! (It is very possible that I fell asleep very early on Wednesday after taking antihistamines for my horrible allergies…) I hope everyone had a fabulous new year and is enjoying everything 2014 has to offer. This week, I bring you a few new year-related articles, along with some sweet links that will make you smile.

Enjoy! 🙂

Have you read any great articles lately?

Your Health in Action: 5 Healthy Recipes to Try in 2013

stock-photo-healthy-diet-fresh-food-in-a-paper-bag-110601509For many of us, a new year provides the chance to reinvent ourselves. This can take place in a number of ways – through a more presentable appearance, a brand new hobby, a switch in career or even a change in overall health. Last semester, I began spending more time in the kitchen to prepare more nutritious meals for myself (instead of resorting to my typical trips to McDonald’s and Asian Chao during breaks from work and class). However, because my culinary skills are extremely limited and uncreative, I wound up resorting to sites like Pinterest to find easy-to-make, delicious meals.

To help each of you on your way to healthier living, I would like to share links to five of the successful recipes I have tested out. Post links to your favorite healthy recipes or food blogs in the comments section below, and feel free to follow me on Pinterest for more ideas!

The Weekend Five: Healthy Recipes to Try in 2013

1. Popcorn Broccoli (link to video).
This recipe, posted by Dani Spies of Clean & Delicious, is great for those looking for a yummy side dish with a lot of flavor. If you’re anything like me and you’re looking for a healthy way to curb salt cravings, this recipe is for you. I have made the popcorn broccoli as a side dish several times, and it’s always a big hit with friends and family. Roasting the broccoli in the oven brings out the taste and gives it a bit of a crunch.

*

cheesey-chicken-and-rice-bake-cropped-410x3072. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake (link to recipe).
My mom baked this casserole, posted on Tasty Kitchen, just a few weeks ago, and my family loved it. This one is packed with delicious ingredients, but replaces a lot of the bad stuff with healthier alternatives. It’s also pretty convenient to put away and reheat as leftovers, and can last you a long time.

*

3. Garbanzo and Rice Salad (link to recipe).A few of my coworkers like to make fun of me for this one, because it happens to be one of my go-to lunches when I need something filling and easy to pack! For my own purposes, I’ve altered Fat Secret‘s directions a bit by replacing the rice with quinoa, taking out the tomatoes (I’m not a tomato person) and adding olive oil to the mix. Another way to add flavor to the recipe is to use a pre-chopped tri-color pack of bell peppers so that you aren’t limited to just one. This salad takes about five minutes to make and tastes best cold.

*

742b3f66-5a90-4f49-85ca-9fee0d396b2a4. Oatmeal Banana Bakes (link to recipe).
This one is becoming another favorite among my friends, and most of the ingredients will likely already be in your kitchen. These cookies are mainly a mix of banana, oatmeal, apples and cinnamon, and have a lot of natural sweetness already. The first time I made these, I used about half of the sweetener that the recipe called for, and the second time, I used only a quarter of it. Incredibly easy to make – and addictive too!

*

5. Healthy Baked Falafel (link to recipe).
Ever since my trip to Israel in 2011, I have been a big fan of falafel (fried chickpeas, more or less), which is a very common food there. However, because of its fried nature, falafel isn’t exactly the healthiest food on the planet. I was determined to find a more nutritious version of this Middle Eastern staple, and was very excited to find one on The Picky Eater. The ingredients are good for you, and the site offers a gluten free version as well. The falafel is baked instead of fried, but equally fantastic. I have cooked these up for guests before, and served with all the popular toppings!

*

What are some of your favorite healthy recipes/recipe blogs? What are you doing to stay healthy in 2013?

Living Each Day Like It’s New Year’s Day

Happy New Year FireworksHappy New Year to all of my lovely readers! I hope 2013 is treating you well and that your New Year’s Eve festivities were safe and memorable. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about all of the excitement that takes place in late December and early January, and I have to ask myself this: Why aren’t we this excited about new beginnings at all times of the year?

Don’t get me wrong – like many of you, I plan to reinvent myself in 2013 and take on new obstacles throughout the year. I love writing down my new year’s resolutions and yelling out in excitement at midnight as the ball drops in Times Square. I love saying “Happy new year!” to friends, family members and strangers in the supermarket in early January. But when do the New Year’s festivities truly end? Is there a cut-off date when “Happy new year!” becomes too outdated, when New Year’s resolutions are no longer relevant?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself as you dive headfirst into the new year. I challenge each of you to be your very best self this year – make your goals visual, try out one of these resolutions for bad girls and geniuses, or change your relationship habits. But don’t let your dreams come to a half in the middle of the month; instead, be passionate and live every day like it’s January 1. Don’t be afraid to set goals when the month is up – it is never too late to change what needs to be changed.

Once again, Happy New Year to each of you. What are your resolutions for the year?

Inspiration in the New Year

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” – Neil Gaiman

*

Let’s face it: it’s easy to get caught up in the monotony of our every-day lives. When we aren’t on holiday, we tend to go through the same daily routines without really stopping to take a breath and soak in the beauty of the world around us. We forget about the things we love because we’re too busy “getting through” the things we’re supposed to do — assignments, work, chores, etc. Soon enough, we lose touch with the things we’re most passionate about, and begin to regard them as distant memories.

For me, reading and writing are the two great loves of my life, and as an overbooked college sophomore perfectionist extraordinaire, I often feel like I’ve lost the former of those. While I make writing a priority through my blog and other personal projects, I hardly get the chance to pick up a book these days, and I miss the feeling of becoming immersed in a world that is not my own.

In fact, books have often served as my inspiration. I’ve always been amazed by the idea that a story written centuries ago can still be experienced in a different context in today’s world — the idea that humans, while constantly pursuing new goals, never really do change. Regardless of the advances in technology over the years, we are still susceptible to the same things: love, envy, greed, competition, pride and the search for something better. It’s the very reason why I can read Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was published in the 1950s, and be reminded of my own college dilemma. Reading, especially when it comes to some of the older works, allows me to make connections I might not otherwise make, and I hope that my own writings will one day have that same effect on someone else.

Anyway, in order to reignite this passion and not get completely sucked into the daily monotony, I decided to follow my friend Melissa’s lead and attempt to read 50 books in the new year. Even if I don’t accomplish this goal, at least I will have made reading a priority, and will gain plenty of knowledge and insight from the books I pick up!

I will keep track of these books on the “Book Challenge 2011” tab above throughout the next year (feel free to check it out from time to time!) and can’t wait to see what’s in store for me. I encourage you guys to try this out too — and if you aren’t a reader, make another goal that has to do with something you love to do (make time for music, art, sports, or anything else you enjoy). Take a few minutes each day to chase your dreams — you never know where 2011 will lead you!

The Freshman 15: Things I Wish I’d Done Differently

With the year of 2010 coming to a close, we compile our lists of resolutions — ways we would like to change in the upcoming year. In creating these lists, we often look back on the past year and reflect upon what we could have improved upon. Therefore, in the December edition of the Freshman 15, I will talk about the things I wish I had done in my freshman year of college that would have improved my college experience even more.

Although I enjoyed my freshman year and found it a successful one, I did make mistakes from time to time (as we all do!) and from them I learned how I would do things differently in the future. For all current freshmen and incoming college students, try and keep some of these in mind as you make your way through that first year! 🙂

Here are the 15 things I wish I’d done differently in college. Learn from them! — Tweet this!

The Freshman 15: Things I Wish I’d Done Differently

1. Make health a priority.
Living on-campus meant that pizza and other dining hall food quickly became staples of my diet, which once included fruits, vegetables and vitamins. Combining this with the fact that I lived in close proximity to hundreds of other people and attended classes with tens of thousands of them, I was bound to get sick sooner or later. During my first fall semester of college alone, I ended up with the flu, two ear infections and ultimately mono. Although this may have just been bad luck and could have happened to anyone, I honestly think that by disregarding my health entirely, I made myself a lot more vulnerable to illness. Moral of the story: take your Vitamin C, eat junk foods in moderation and carry hand sanitizer everywhere you go!

*

2. Pay attention to on-campus opportunities early on.
Yes, I managed to get involved in a few clubs by the end of my freshman year, but I also missed out on an entire semester during which I could have been meeting new people and becoming a greater part of my school. Although I spent a great deal of that semester in the Health Center and catching up on assignments, I avoided a lot of the socials until my spring semester. Having developed a group of friends early on, I was convinced that I didn’t need to get involved right away, and now, looking back, I wish I hadn’t taken that attitude. In the spring of my freshman year, I decided to try out some of the organizations, and quickly found my home in one of them. The earlier you get involved, the better — you’ll get to utilize some of the older students as mentors, and have a greater connection to the club when you’re an upperclassman and you want to obtain an officer position.

*

3. Connect with faculty.
As you begin to apply for internships, scholarships and various jobs, you will need to compile a reference list — and no, these references shouldn’t be limited to the people who knew you in high school. Go to your professors’ office hours and talk to them about assistantships and research opportunities. Connect with the ones you like and ask for help when you need it. This year, I finally became acquainted with the faculty in my honors college — the people who had always offered help but whom I was afraid I would burden — and they really were willing to answer my questions and point me in the right direction. One of them even connected me to a professor who offered me a job! If I had pursued these relationships a year ago, I can’t even imagine where I’d be today. The sooner you get to know your professors and advisers, the better!

*

4. Settle into a healthy sleep cycle.
No matter how old you are, sleep is the best way to let your mind and body recharge. However, because college presents so many new challenges and opportunities, you may start to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to really get the rest you need. The old joke goes that if your options are good grades, a social life and a healthy sleep cycle, it is only possible for you to obtain two of those. During my freshman year, I definitely sacrificed those hours of sleep in favor of other things, and my body did not thank me for it. The point is, if you develop good sleep habits now, they are more likely to stick with you in the years to come, leading to greater productivity and success!

*

5. Attend more athletic events.
For a lot of college students, this one isn’t even remotely a problem — and tailgating on Saturday mornings is as routine as brushing one’s teeth. For someone like me, who doesn’t fully comprehend the rules of football and tends to get bored by halftime, athletic events aren’t quite as exciting. But while I’m not always enamored with every aspect of a game, I wish I did attend more of them, if only to show off my school spirit, cheer on my classmates and enjoy the overall atmosphere. Besides, they are a fun (and often free, depending on what school you attend) way to socialize with your friends and truly feel like a part of something.

*

6. Focus less on relationships.
Okay, we’re in our late teens and twenties, so naturally one of our first priorities is dating. We think about it all the time: who’s hooking up with whom, who broke up, who got back together, what that text from that boy meant, etc. Although dating and relationships can be fun and worthwhile, however, they shouldn’t take over our lives. I found that I spent entirely too much of my first year of college worrying about relationships and non-relationships, regardless of what my status was with whomever I liked at the time. I also learned that you cannot let anyone be the sole cause of your happiness — and by putting too much stock in the whole world of dating, you are not giving yourself enough credit. There’s a time and place for everything, and I’m not suggesting that you ignore a connection with someone when you feel it, but please don’t let those connections control your emotions entirely.

*

7. Find a way to present yourself well.
As a freshman, you may not have to apply for too many jobs or positions yet, but eventually you will want to become a leader on campus and you will need to know how to show people the very best you have to offer. Last year, I wanted to obtain a coveted position in one of the organizations on campus, and when the interview itself came around, I wasn’t prepared for the type of self-marketing I was expected to do, and I didn’t get the job. Over time, I’ve done a lot of self-discovery and reflected upon my strengths and weaknesses, and I think that really helped me in obtaining several internship offers for this upcoming semester. If only I had learned this sooner, I may have been another step ahead.

*

8. Know your school’s limitations, especially on holiday weekends.
I began college in the middle of the summer, and wound up spending the 4th of July Weekend up at school. While most of my friends had gone home for the holiday, I was not about to chicken out on my first weekend of college. Instead, I stayed at school with two other friends and a ghost town for a campus. Without a car at the time (this was before I got my trusty car, Carlos), we were basically stranded — no restaurants at school were open, and our dorm rooms were not well-equipped for cooking our own food. Eventually we befriended someone who was willing to take us to Publix and the local sub shop, but the weekend was extremely boring and the school was not prepared for the students who had stayed behind. Although I wouldn’t suggest going home at every chance you get, I would strongly recommend finding out the school’s accommodations before sticking around on a holiday weekend, especially if you don’t have a convenient means of transportation.

*

9. Utilize the resources on campus.
Chances are, your school has lots of these… and many of them will go unused. When I needed advice on a major after switching from Journalism, I visited Career Services, and later on, I returned for assistance with my resume. However, there were plenty of other places on campus I should have become acquainted with at one point or another: the Writing Center and the Math Lab, for example. Whether you need help with a paper or one-on-one tutoring, there’s usually some resource available to help you, and you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it!

*

10. Don’t rush into relationships or trust too much too soon.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, college relationships (both romantic AND platonic) are notorious for moving quickly. Because you’re getting to know so many people in a much closer capacity in a shorter period of time than ever before, bonding with those people you meet is inevitable. The trouble is, not only does this put too much pressure on a friendship or relationship that is still very new, but it also causes us to trust people with our darkest secrets before they’ve proven themselves trustworthy. Although several of the people I met early on are some of my closest friends today, there have been some surprises over the past year and at times I wish I hadn’t rushed into certain friendships so quickly. Be open to meeting new people and sharing your experiences, but don’t share everything right away — some things should be reserved for the people who have earned them.

*

11. Write down your goals.
Having an active list of what you want to accomplish throughout the year (much like New Year’s Resolutions) helps you to track your growth and progress over time. I came into college with a lot of expectations, and looking back, I wish I had kept track of those to see what I actually achieved and what values changed. Before I began my sophomore year, I posted my goals for the year to my Facebook Notes, and over the past several months, I have gone in and crossed off each goal as I’ve met it (and added the date next to it for added organization). Your list doesn’t have to be so public — I keep mine that way in order to share my dreams with others — but you should definitely make one and then refer back to it often.

*

12. Find an outlet.
In just one week of college, you will find yourself juggling a full course load, club meetings and a social life — and sometimes it may feel like you don’t have time to breathe. To avoid total insanity, try finding a way to relax from it all. Go to the gym, take a walk outside, paint something… the world is yours. In April, I found one release that allowed me to relax while doing what I loved, and that release was blogging! Throughout my freshman year, I found that some of my passions had been ignored, especially writing and reading (more on how I plan to change the latter in my next blog post!). Don’t ignore what makes you happy – instead, make it a priority to do those things at least once each week.

*

13. Make yourself a bigger priority in your own life.
This is YOUR life! It may be admirable to help your friends and neighbors out from time to time, but you do need to find ways to do things for yourself. For much of my first semester, I assumed it was my responsibility to take care of some of the others, even if that took away from time I could have spent studying or relaxing on my own. While I am still learning about becoming assertive and learning to do what is best for myself, I have begun making time for me. This is probably one of the most valuable lessons I could learn in college.

*

14. Keep in touch with the people you want in your life.
Don’t feel obligated to maintain relationships with people you didn’t mesh well with in high school or college,but make sure you don’t ignore the ones you do want to remain friends with. I met so many people in the first two weeks of my fall semester of freshman year and was so busy with them that I was too exhausted to really keep up with a lot of them once things began to settle down. Although I wound up with a close-knit group of friends that I loved, I knew there were others I still wanted to see, and ultimately I learned to make those get-togethers happen for themselves. Don’t lose touch with someone you really like simply due to laziness!

*

15. Don’t expect perfection.
As an eternal perfectionist, this is something I struggle with constantly, and it is both my strength and my downfall. At times I forget how much I have accomplished, even if I am not perfect, and have to remind myself that I am human. As you begin your college career, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as smoothly as you think they should. You are in a brand new environment that is constantly changing, and you are adjusting to a completely different way of life. Allow yourself to be the best you can be, and don’t expect yourself to be a superhero every single day.

*

I hope these tips are helpful as you make your way into the new year! Some questions to consider:

– For my older readers, what do you wish you could have changed about your freshman year/college experience as a whole?

– How did college help you grow as a person?

– What topics are you hoping to learn more about in The Freshman 15 series? Anything you would like me to address in the upcoming months?