SummerWith summer just right around the corner you’ve probably already began daydreaming about all the awesome stuff you’re going to be doing! But if you’re anything like me, if you don’t have plans you end up doing absolutely nothing and wasting your break away inside on your phone.  But the first step to fixing a problem is knowing you have one. Today I want to get real with you all about how to manage having large amounts of free time in a productive way that keep your mind and body healthy and happy.

Feeling unproductive for long periods of time can have a huge negative effect on your mind and body. If you do not struggle with keeping yourself productive more power to you but I genuinely cannot relate. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to help keep me moving while still allowing myself to enjoy my breaks.

Tip One: Make a schedule and stick to it!

Write out a time schedule to give yourself structure. It can be as simple or detailed as you want. I usually set a time to wake up, a time to have eaten and gotten ready by, a time range to do whatever major day event I have planned, and a time range to be asleep within. If you’re not a morning person like myself setting an alarm between 9-10 AM is a pretty safe bet to allow yourself to experience the whole day. And your daily activity plan doesn’t have to be elaborate or even interesting. You are allowed to have days where your only plan is to lay around outside or sit on couch, because lazy days are good for mental health in small doses.

Tip Two: Get a job, intern, or volunteer!

Another great way to give yourself structure and to get out of house is to get a job (even if it’s part time), get an internship, or volunteer with local or national organizations. If the idea of getting a summer job is stressful and seems super overwhelming you are not alone. We all know what it’s like to be flooded with options and have no idea where to begin. But a good starting point in to go to the Office of Career Services in Wooded Way or go to their link in the SU Portal and ask for information about employment opportunities in your field of study. They can also help you perfect your resume, practice interview skills, and find internship opportunities. Regardless of what you do, getting paid or working on a volunteer project will give you a feeling of accomplishment that will be satisfying, keep you accountable, and give you a reason to do something with your day.

Tip Three: Stay healthy!

If you’re going to keep up with your schedule you’ve got to stay healthy. That means eating well, sleeping properly, and staying hygienic. Just because you don’t have to see anybody for three days does not mean you should skip showering for three days. It’s gross and you are going to feel better about yourself if you do. Drink plenty of water and eat your vegetables to supplement your popsicle intake, because if you live in Maryland you know just how stinking hot and humid it can get. Make sure you eat three reasonable meals a day and have healthy snack breaks, don’t calorie load in one huge meal a day. Get moving, even if it is just a walk or a killer dance session jamming out while you clean your house. Clean your room! Not because your mom told you to, but because a clear space leads to a clearer mind. A path from the door to your bed does not count. Keeping you and your space clean and healthy will relieve stress and keep you doing you.

Tip Four: Do something you love!

Don’t let your break become all work and no play. As much as making a paycheck is awesome you also have to leave time for yourself to do the things that make you happy. Read that book you’ve been meaning to, paint something, write, exercise, join a summer league team for your favorite sport, go out with your friends, go bowling, hiking, driving, meet new people, make memories with yourself and the people you love, because at the end of the summer you’re going to want to look back and feel like you did it all and had a blast rather than not remember any of it. Don’t fall for your job’s line that you’re a family. At the end of the day you are getting paid to provide a service to the company and you are a person in their late teens to early twenties who has the rest of their lives to work. Don’t feel guilty about taking the weekend or week off to go on that vacation with your friends or family because they “need you for a shift.” Be responsible and professional, give them proper notice, but do not feel guilty about having a life outside the office. You deserve to enjoy your summer vacation as much as the next person.

If I don’t structure myself during long breaks I will end up sitting inside doing nothing and that’s not good for anyone’s mental health. So, if you also struggle with that I hope you take some of these tips into consideration. Everybody is different and needs different habits to live their best life and that is okay. I sincerely hope everyone has a fantastic summer and does well in all of their finals. Almost there, guys! We got this!