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Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Everything in moderation

How is trying to figure out a healthy, realistic daily routine more stressful than the routine itself?

Social media has enabled us to upload edited “daily routines,” creating intense comparison and a lack of reality for the rest of the world to see. Apps like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube allow users to create edited videos and photos for the world to see. Authors and therapists publish self-help books promising direct changes if you follow their routine, but no individual human brain is the same. There is not one routine, study habit or piece of advice that will make us all equally productive and motivated.

In today’s world — especially as a college student — there are extreme pressures and unrealistic expectations put on individuals to live a “perfect life.” However, these routines are specially curated for the internet to see and rarely are scientifically proven. Despite the facts, followers compare and contrast their lives to what they see online daily. 

“Constant comparison when people are scrolling is what is believed to lead to harm,” the American Medical Association wrote in a 2021 report. The report found harm includes “body-image issues, body dysmorphia and often comparisons of success in life.” 

I want you to think of this the next time you encounter one of these posts. Social media adds many positive aspects to our society — it has changed the way the world communicates with one another, allowing for immediate messages and calls. Yet, it is important to be educated and aware when using social media in order to live a fulfilling and happy life.

It feels as if the competition to be the busiest, most productive person has turned into an all-or-nothing approach to daily life. Consumers are spoon-fed health habits guaranteed to make us happy, productive and successful. Don’t you want these things? It’s easy to wake up at the crack of dawn, juice a lemon into warm water, complete a workout and eat “clean” food. But be sure to also prioritize school and go to bed early. 

We may actually be doing more harm to ourselves than good. It feels like the world needs to take a deep breath. What about our favorite foods? What about our social lives? What about relaxation? I believe in the phrase “everything in moderation,” and you should too.

Let’s say you do decide to follow a strenuous routine. You make yourself get out of bed at 6 a.m., force yourself to say no to friends and family, strictly prioritize unrealistic goals, cut out your favorite foods and spend your free time only studying or reading. These are great habits to add into your life, but you are going to burn out if you do not give yourself room for enjoyment.

I want to encourage you to make a personalized yet realistic routine. If routines are not your thing, maybe just gradually implement new habits into your life. You are your biggest advocate and know yourself best, so let’s get realistic.

As college students, we need habits and routines that allow us a few hours of free time or to enjoy a burger with friends — a routine that allows us to live.

I have listened to many seminars drilling so-called “healthy habits” into my brain throughout middle school, high school and even college, and I am sure you have too. Therefore, you may already know all the facts to live a healthy lifestyle. Either way, I want to reiterate how simple implementing healthy habits while keeping balance can be. You would be surprised how much you already know.

We all need eight hours of sleep or more to increase memory and mood, exercise to help with serotonin levels and nutritious foods to keep us healthy.  

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A piece of pizza is not nutritious; it is heavy on carbs and grease. Here is my take: even though a slice of pizza is unhealthy, it could be a source of happiness. Pizza every day may not be the right choice for most people, but if this piece of pizza — or whatever food you prefer — creates enjoyment and helps you stay motivated to keep going, eat it. This can be said with many things like TV or social media as well. 

Although not all habits are extremely productive, some “unproductive” habits can be necessary. Not everything needs to be productive in order to be healthy.

I hope reading this article feels like a breath of fresh air or lifts some weight off your shoulders.  Waking up at 2 p.m. is okay sometimes. Eating fried food is okay. And it is certainly okay to have a lazy day. Cutting out these habits can be unhealthier than indulging in moderation every once in a while.

From personal experience, creating and implementing simple, healthy habits — such as eight hours of sleep, exercising three times a week and eating well — can be helpful, but don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up. 

Sadly, there is no quick fix or step-by-step checklist ensuring you will have a productive, satisfying routine. I can recommend taking some time to think about what works for you and your lifestyle. Stop thinking of all the things you could be doing, and just start doing. You do not have to be perfect.

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