2015 was the year a dress tore the internet apart (#blackandblue), One Direction broke hearts, and “Trap Queen” dominated the charts. Left Shark was the star of the Super Bowl, Justin Bieber made a comeback, and Drake taught us some new moves a la “Hotline Bling.”
While there’s no telling what 2016 will bring in pop culture phenomena, we can count on the familiar promise of a newer, shinier you the new year always offers. Everyone else may be breaking their resolutions already, but with the right steps, “new year, new me” can actually ring true for you. Ditch the “lose weight,” “save money,” and “learn something new” death traps, and create focused goals you’ll be checking off your list by the end of the year.
Resolve to get more zzz’s. It’s no surprise that more sleep improves your health and overall state of mind, but students who sleep well also perform better on exams. According to a study conducted by KU Leuven, “Students who sleep seven hours per night during the exam period score an average of 1.7 points higher (on a scale of 20) on their exams than peers who get only six hours of sleep.” So, whether you aim for 8 hours and go to bed at 10 p.m. on the dot, or sneak in a cat nap between classes, get more rest!
2. Learn to say “no.”
With a little practice, this becomes a lot easier with time. If you look at your average day (or, heck, your life in general) in more mathematical terms, there is a finite amount of time you have to spend. And if you find yourself agreeing to go hang out - or even help others - instead of tackling your personal priorities, by the time you finish subtracting all the hours you’ve spent, you’ll see that you have very few hours left for you. It’s great to be involved; just make sure you have plenty of time for yourself, too.
3. Put your phone away.
Listen, you don’t have to swear off technology completely, but it might be a good idea to cut back a little. It doesn’t have to be big: next time you’re with friends or family, challenge yourself not to check your feed. Technology’s great, but so is old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Moderation, as with all things in life, is key.
4. Stop being a hater.
Kim doesn’t care what you think about her baby’s name and Miley couldn’t care less about your opinion of her. Why waste energy hating on things that don’t affect you?
5. Get over your social media anxiety.
Post something because you like it (and resist the urge to check in every 20 seconds until you reach that “crucial” 11th like). You don’t need to be validated through the meaningless number of likes, retweets and followers you have.
6. Take care of your skin.
Wear sunscreen, wash your face before you go to bed, and drink lots of water. Tone down the tanning obsession, too. Wrinkles and skin cancer aren’t worth it.
7. Read (or watch) the news.
It’s not hard to stay informed when every major news source is on Twitter and has an app ready to download. Being up-to-date on current events isn’t only impressive, but it’s good exercise for your brain, too.
Go to your school’s career center, get to know your teachers, and show your LinkedIn some love. You never know who you’ll meet — your future self will be grateful.
9. Focus on being healthy, not losing weight.
Stop worrying about how much weight you want to lose, and instead shift your attention to healthy eating and exercise. If you hate going to the gym, find a physical activity you actually enjoy. (Kickboxing? Pilates? Aerial yoga?) If it’s too hard to stick to your diet when you go out to eat, dedicate a day or two per week to try a new recipe at home. Above all, focus on taking care of yourself, and you’ll see positive results.