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OFFICIAL PRESS/BerkOp's Declassified College Survival Guide

#1. 10 Reminders to Help You Get Your Shit Together

Your New Year's Resolutions (which are more or less the same every year) probably seemed easy enough: getting in exercise, eating a balanced diet, balancing academic and social life. But somehow you’ve managed to find yourself amidst cheap, convenient foods, returning to old, unhealthy habits, constantly swamped with schoolwork and extracurriculars, unable to get everything together. Here’s a compiled list of reminders, ones you’ve definitely heard before, to aid in adjusting your daily routine for the better.


1. Get Your Daily Intake of Water

Roughly, you should be drinking around eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. That’s around 2 liters, or half a gallon[1]. According to John Higgins, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Texas in Houston, signs of dehydration include dry skin, food cravings, and headaches[2]. Small but effective changes to your daily routine can be made by simply drinking more water. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of Americans aren’t drinking enough water[3]. Plenty of water is needed in order to regulate bodily fluids, energize muscles, replenish the skin, and carry out proper digestion. Additionally, you can easily feel tired, hungry, and moody without enough water. Even a fluid loss of 1.36% is enough to impair mood and concentration, as well as increase the frequency of headaches[4].


2. Use a Calendar

There’s nothing worse than having multiple events in your head, all with different dates. Although this may sound counterintuitive, you can waste less time by keeping a calendar. Once you have your schedule in physical form, you know in one glance when you have free time and when you will be busy. You can know exactly where you have to be at what time and can see the course of your day before it begins. Being organized in this way keeps you stress-free from having to remember special events and daily obligations.


3. Sleep in Cycles

Naps feel heavenly in midst of late nights studying and crazy sleep schedules with little to no sleep. However, our bodies follow a sleep cycle with many different stages. Although it is recommended that young adults (ages 18-25) get 7-9 hours of sleep, it is also much more efficient to sleep based on your body’s natural sleep cycles[5]. A normal sleep cycle is about 90 minutes in length. It’s likely that interruption of sleep during Stage 3 or 4 (deep sleep), before end of the completion of one cycle, will result in feelings of grogginess, sleepiness, etc. Therefore, 90-minute naps are recommended over one hour naps, or take 20-30 minute naps, before you go into deep sleep. You will also feel well rested if you wake up after a few cycles of sleep rather than waking up during the middle of deep sleep. Typically this means 6, 7½, or 9 hours.


4. Prevent Yourself from Getting Sick

Something is always going to be going around in a heavily populated area where you’re interacting with countless people per day. Getting sick makes everything from waking up in the morning to concentrating in class more difficult. Easy ways to prevent yourself from getting sick include washing your hands frequently, avoid touching main entries for viruses and germs (nose, teeth, eyes), avoid touching public objects (door knobs, rails, toilets). According to David Katz, MD, founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, sleep is the best agent against viruses. Our bodies need 7-9 hours of sleep to stimulate “natural killer cells”[6]. Vitamin C, which is generally known to be one of the essential elements in preventing sicknesses, should be taken through fruits and vegetables oranges, kiwis, and spinach. While Vitamin C supplements are common, they may contain artificial flavors and coloring[7].


5. Live in the Present; Be Flexible

In college, you confront so many sensitive decisions frequently and it’s easy to feel like your decisions and actions now are determining your future. With many achievements and failures, involvement in various activities, plans for the future change and as a result of all this change several times you may find yourself questioning your identity and reevaluating your worth. This isn’t necessary. In fact, 80% of students change their majors in college according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And that’s only for major. You probably held expectations for yourself before college, but you’re learning more about yourself now. It isn’t necessary for you to deal with negative feelings due to expectations from the past. Understand that your 10,15-year-old self did not know you as well as you know yourself now and should not have limited you into a narrow path in the first place. Be open-minded and try to make the best out of change. New interests means new opportunities, and no matter where you are in life there is a way to enjoy it.


6. Don’t Multitask

And there are no exceptions to this rule. Multitasking reduces productivity, and this is a scientifically proven fact. In fact, the concept known as ‘multitasking’ does not exist, and what you’re essentially doing is task-switching. According to Guy Winch, PhD, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries, moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity, he says, because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears—plus, you never get fully “in the zone” for either activity[8]. Instead of saving time, what multitasking does is increase the time needed to complete two or more tasks from if each task was worked on separately. Even for behaviors considered “automatic” like driving, a 2008 University of Utah found that destinations took longer when the driver texted[9]. Multitasking creates a 40% loss in productivity, allowing more room for errors; more than two tasks overwhelm the frontal cortex and increases the number of mistakes made[10]. Multitasking also increases stress in the brain. It is much more useful to say what is needed ahead of hand before driving or starting your homework, to clear open tabs on your laptop, and give your full attention to one task at a time.


7. Keep Drinking to a Minimum

Students are exposed to an influx of alcohol in college and binge drinking becomes common. Most students do not realize their excessive drinking messing up their lifestyle. It causes you to mess up your daily rhythm. Furthermore, excessive drinking damages every cell in the body, but primarily the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system. Drinking also impairs memory and can permanently damage the brain. Memory is crucial for staying sharp in school and doing well in classes. It is also worth prioritizing your health as a young adult. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, men should not exceed 4 drinks per day or a total of 14 per week and women should not to exceed 3 drinks a day or a total of 7 per week[11].


8. Do Exercise

Diet is key to feeling good, but you’re bound to feel better if you’re running 45 minutes a day every day than if you’re not. No matter what time in the day you’re exercising, it’s just important to remember to keep consistent time every day; random exercise is an indicator that you’ll get thrown off track. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 300 minutes of exercise a week for health benefits[12].


9. Ask Yourself What You Like

Spend time asking yourself what YOU like, and for a few minutes don’t think about anyone else. Disregard society’s standards and your family and friends’ expectations.


10. And Do What Makes You Happy

Many college students find themselves unhappy because their daily activities are not bringing them joy—and that may be because it’s not meant for you. You don’t need to feel trapped. Work is stressful but in the least find work that is meaningful to you. Do you. There are over 1000 organizations to get involved in here at Cal, and career options are endless. Even if it’s not the traditional route, explore. Explore what you like, and meet new people. Surround yourself with people that make you happy and engage in activities that rouse your interest. Try out new hobbies and revisit old ones. This is definitely easier said than done, but in the least take an hour out of your day engaging purely in what you love doing.


[1] Gunnars, Kris. "How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?" Authority Nutrition. N.p., 24 Oct. 2013. Web. Feb. 2016.

[2] George, Nancy. "6 Unusual Signs of Dehydration." EverydayHealth.com. N.p., 30 Sept. 2014. Web. Feb. 2016.

[3] Mann, Leslie. "Study Finds Americans Not Drinking Enough Water." Chicago Tribune. N.p., 05 June 2013. Web. Feb. 2016.

[4] Armstrong, LE. "Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2012. Web. Feb. 2016.

[5] "Sleep Deprivation Effects and How Much Sleep We Need: Babies, Teens, and Adults." WebMD, 2014. Web. Feb. 2016.

[6] "20 Surprising Ways to Prevent Colds and Flu." Health.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.

[7] Weil, Andrew. "Vitamin C Benefits." - What Does Vitamin C Do? N.p., 29 Oct. 2012. Web. Feb. 2016.

[8] "12 Reasons to Stop Multitasking Now!" Health.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.

[9] Roberts, Gretchen. "ADHD and the Myth of Multitasking: How to Regain Your Focus." Health.com. N.p., 27 Jan. 2009. Web. Feb. 2016.

[10] "12 Reasons to Stop Multitasking Now!" Health.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.

[11] Bell, Katie Kelly. "Are You Drinking Too Much? The Myth Of Moderation." Forbes. N.p., 3 Sept. 2013. Web. Feb. 2016.

[12] Laskowski, Edward R. "Exercise: How Much Do I Need Every Day?" Mayo Clinic, 3 Jan. 2014. Web. Feb. 2016.