Key Characteristics of Successful Students
The Importance of Sleep
There may not be enough hours in a day to get everything done. All things being equal, students who get 8 hours of sleep generally outperform those who get 6-7 hours. With the right amount of sleep, people learn and process new information better, are more resilient and are more creative. With a good night’s sleep, you will perform better and have better recall on a mentally challenging task, such as an exam.
How Resilient Are You?
Bad stuff happens to good people. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of significant sources of stress. Even if we aren’t in control of stressors, we are in control of how we chose to deal with it. Perhaps you received bad news while studying for an exam. What about the bad news can you do something about or change? Factors associated with resilience are: being realistic about what you can and cannot do about it, making a plan and following through, having a positive view of yourself, communication and problem-solving skills, consulting a professional for help, and management of strong feelings and emotions.
Do You Make Time for Exercise?
Do you remember how to play? When you were a kid, you probably enjoyed some type of activity whether it was sports, swimming, dancing, or just riding your bike. Play and exercise are important parts of life—but you know that! Burning off some energy and getting in tune with your body helps keep you well-balanced physically, emotionally, and mentally. Getting out into the daylight has also been shown to improve learning and retention of information. Take the time to give yourself some play time. The benefits far exceeds the time spent.
Your relationships with others are key in your staying well. You may not know it, but there really is a place here for you. One of the best things about P.C.C. is our diversity. There are so many different people and places here that opportunity abounds for you to be connected and to shine. Among the things you could do are: join a club, get involved in student government, or form a study group.
Let’s face it—you work hard and get stressed. Stress is here to stay. Even though we wish it weren’t so, it will always be a part of our live. It’s not about avoiding stress, but knowing yourself (your limits and your strengths) and being proactive.
There are times when demands we fact tax us to the point that we feel we cannot cope. We begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, helpless and/or angry. Some of us have physical symptoms such as sleep and/or appetite disturbance, physical tension, or depleted energy. Others might experience intellectual roadblocks form stress such as test anxiety, procrastination, or lack of motivation. Stress can impact us socially as well, by causing us to withdraw, feel isolated, or even become aggressive.
Believe it or not, sometimes a little stress can be helpful. Motivating us to prepare and perform. Finding the right balance and attitude toward stress helps. Take time to learn more about stress and to manage it.
Here are some helpful strategies:
- Learn to Relax
Throughout the day, take “minibreaks.” Sit down and get comfortable. Slowly take a deep breath in, hold it, and then exhale very slowly. Do this 3 times.
- Practice Acceptance
Many people get distressed over things they really can’t change, like getting caught in traffic. Work on changing the things you can.
- Talk Rationally to Yourself
Ask yourself what real impact the stressful situation will have on you in a day or a week, and see if you can let the negative thoughts go. Watch out for perfectionism—set realistic and attainable goals.
- Disarm Yourself
Every situation in life does not require you to be competitive. Adjust the approach to an event according to the demands of it. Save raising your voice or yelling for those rare occasions when it’s necessary.
- Quiet Time
Balance your college, family and work demands with special private times. Hobbies, such as doing crossword puzzles or shooting baskets, are good antidotes for daily pressure. Practice unwinding in a healthy, responsible way.
What a concept! We are so used to driving and pushing ourselves that the idea of kindness just doesn’t seem to fit. But when you think about it, bullying ourselves doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in us. Research is pouring in about the benefits of self-compassion, including: reduced anxiety, increased resilience and overall better mental health. Don’t believe us…. Try it!
People often notice the things in life that are going wrong, but take less time to savor the components of life that are going right. Considering aspects of our life for which you are thankful, can help you to develop a positive perspective. Practicing gratitude in your day-to-day life can be a useful skill. Here are some things to do:
- Try writing one thing down each day that you were grateful for that day.
- Try to identify the learning opportunity that challenges present thinking.
- Express gratitude to someone else in small and larger ways.
- When someone helps you, let them know.
- Try writing a letter to a person who has touched your life in a positive way, explaining the way they have affected you.
Do You Practice Healthy Eating
Between hectic class and work schedules, limited resources, lack of cooking know-how, and temptations of late night snacking, eating a balanced nutritious diet can be difficult. A good diet keep your body healthy, promotes good mood, clear thinking and academic performance. While there is no single “right” way to eat, regular meals with a variety of foods (from all the food groups) and adequate hydration (water is best) is key.
Eating well is important, but if your thoughts of food or weight are becoming obsessive or distressing, you may be developing disordered eating. Medical, counseling and nutritional support is available through Personal Counseling and Student Health Services, where you can make an appointment to see a dietitian.
Time flies by without our permission. How you manage your time can have a big impact on your academic success at P.C.C. It can also be an important factor in your stress level. These days, the use of technology can play a large role in procrastination. Texting, e-mail, Facebook, and computer games, while service as distractions from academic work, can become time-consuming and addictive. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize when it has become a problem and what to do to control its use. Consider keeping a log of your non-work related internet use. Successful students set goals and replaced some of their internet time with healthy activities such as spending time with friends or taking a walk.
When you feel good about your career goals, you tend to enjoy yourself more. You will be more engaged in your classes, more likely to talk to your professors and more engaged in your education. Career decision-making can sometimes be a source of stress. Many students struggle to choose a major and find themselves caught between their own interests and the expectations of others. Even students who were once certain of their goals can suddenly find themselves confused, overwhelmed or questioning their choices. Taking time to explore yourself and your options can be an important part of being focused and well.