By Aasha Amber Bhatnagar

Whether you spent winter break tanning on the beaches of Cabo, skiing in a mountain resort or just spending time with your friends and family, getting back into the groove of a new semester can be daunting. It’s important to always practice self-care when facing new and exciting changes in life. 

Now, you may be thinking: I already practice self-care. Although it is likely you do in some ways, most people don’t know the true meaning of self-care. 

Self-care comes from within, and it’s about being completely aware of your own needs and responding to them accordingly. For me, self-care is understanding that I have total control over my life and that I don’t need validation from others… even though it’s nice to hear it sometimes.  

I recently read a book called Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. The author gives a full rundown as to how to stop asking other people to manage your life and how to unapologetically be yourself. In light of a new semester (and decade), I’m going to give you some advice on how to get back into the groove after a month long break. 

Be honest about how you feel

It’s okay to feel slightly out of it at the start. Some people can fall seamlessly back into their daily school routine, while others struggle with their new classes. But that’s okay. Remember that the person who seems like they have it all could also be struggling, but is just better at hiding it. However, humans shouldn’t have to hide our feelings because we feel scared to get judged or pitied. After all, emotions are what make us human. 

It’s okay to feel sad, homesick or angry. Thousands of other students are feeling that exact way right now and I can give you some friendly advice for dealing with change: get involved in new clubs that interest you, send a shameless text to friends to meet up for lunch or simply take a stroll in the fresh white snow. Eventually, you’ll fall into your own routine, and remember that it’s okay if it takes you longer than it takes others.

Reset your sleep schedule 

Let’s get real — going to bed at 4 a.m. during break might have been a blast, but going to bed at 4 a.m. before your 8 a.m. class is not a good idea. Plan on getting at least seven hours of sleep each night to set yourself up for success this semester. 

Healthy sleep cycles will help elevate your mood. If the cold weather is getting you down, try adding an hour or two to your sleep schedule.

Drink lots and lots of water

Drinking water not only benefits your metabolism — which will help you to stay healthy during the semester — but it also benefits your brain and skin. The cold weather can make skin dry and tight, and drinking lots of water will replenish and rejuvenate it, giving you a healthy glow and more confidence. 

Keep a planner

Whether it be a Google Calendar or another app, almost everyone uses a planner these days. I find that noting everything down ahead of time works wonders to keep you organized. 

Personally, I prefer paper planners so I can color-code my day and schedule. If you don’t care for a paper one, though, download an app like Wunderlist on your laptop. Wunderlist sends notifications for users’ daily plans, and you can create folders for each of your classes to keep assignments organized.

Create short-term goals

Though 16 weeks sounds like a long time, semesters can go by like a breeze. Write down short-term goals and reward yourself when hitting each one. Setting goals not only helps to keep you motivated and organized, but they help you set your priorities straight.