How to Have a Healthy Mind
Through the ages, great thinkers have pondered the importance of keeping things on an even keel—be it the yin and yang of ancient Chinese philosophy, Aristotle’s Golden Mean, or contemporary society’s strive for work-life balance. All refer to the search for that middle ground that creates a healthy mind.
For college students, particularly working adults, the idea that any middle ground exists in a schedule jammed with classes, term papers, and tests draws an immediate eye roll.
One scholarly report on the subject concluded that students who work 10 to 19 hours a week perform better academically than their peers who don’t work at all.
Those findings beg the question of how to maintain peak academic performance when your own life involves working far longer than that, and especially when compounded with family obligations. Investing time to exercise your mind pays dividends in concentration, creativity, and productivity. Delve into the tips below to learn how to stay sharp in the face of academic, professional, and family demands.
Exercise your brain
Like a muscle, the more you use your brain, the healthier and stronger it gets. While college students might feel that their brains are stretched to the max already, taking a few minutes a day can push past those internal obstacles.
Even something simple, like starting the morning with a crossword puzzle or Sudoku, is a fun and challenging way to limber up mentally. The next time you’re in a long check-out line, take a quick glance at your surroundings, then close your eyes briefly and see what you can recall. How did you do? You’ll be amazed at how much better you become with a little practice, plus you’ll be distracted from the hassle of waiting in line. A less-stressed brain always performs better.
A certain level of sleep deprivation is unavoidable in college, but you can revive yourself in a relatively short amount of time. Experts say a 20-minute power nap is the optimal amount, though some adherents say 5 to 10 minutes will do. Even if you don’t literally fall asleep, the temporary state of mindlessness contributes toward clearing mental clutter.
Anyone who’s served in the military was subjected to “mandatory fun,” which affectionately describes activities foisted on personnel by the chain of command. No one wants to go, everyone is convinced they’re going to hate it, but those activities often wind up being a good time.
Working college students should make time to schedule their own “mandatory fun.” Organize a weekly happy hour with friends. You’ll find yourself refreshed and rejuvenated afterward, if for no other reason than you’ve left the books behind for a while.
Many avid runners will tell you that their best ideas come in the middle of a workout. Even just walking around the block can get those creative juices flowing and make schoolwork easier when you return to it.
As with many things in life, the key to having a healthy mind is finding balance. Begin working some of these tips into your daily routine, and you’ll likely see your focus and your outlook improve.
Written by Ashford University staff.