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MIT student blogger Natnael G. '15

Taking Care of Yourself by Natnael G. '15

Eating, Sleeping, Water and Vitamins pave the way to happiness

I was having a chat with my friend Matt O. ’15 when we both agreed on a few aspects of taking care of yourself we wish we had learned two years ago. MIT has its times of incredible stress and it’s during those times that these tips are most crucial. Taking care of yourself is incredibly difficult in the face of a three midterm week but these simple steps will make the experience that much more bearable.

Step 1: Eat Properly

How not to do it. (A dinner from last summer)

This is probably the one I struggled with the most. When you’re in classes all day and doing psets all night it becomes much too easy to skip meals and rely on fast food. When you’re not in a dining hall dorm breakfast becomes a luxury and 1.5-2 meal days become the norm. While the stereotype of the ramen eating college student are only slightly true, microwave meals became a staple and as a consequence the energy I had on a daily basis was limited. I always woke up groggy and felt nauseous on particularly stressful weeks. If I can summarize this section in one sentence it would be the following. Eat three meals a day, minimize salt filled crap food, and diversify your food groups, and for when this fails take your vitamins.

Step 2: Take Vitamins Regularly

Chances are you won’t be following Step 1 as well as your mother would like and for those of us who have an indifference for all things green, there are Vitamins. While Step 1 has definitely made the largest difference in terms of my day to day happiness it’s not always feasible in the hustle and bustle of college life and as it turns out you get quite a bit out of eating vitamins. What started out as trying a friend’s gummy vitamins ended up drastically changing my day to day life. A vitamin a day equated to sleeping easier, less groggy mornings and more more energy in the day. So pick up a supply of vitamins from Shaws and make it a daily habit!

Step 3: Stay Hydrated

This follows the same vein as Step 1, it’s much too easy to go through the day without enough water. About two semesters ago I found that I was plagued with nightly headaches that was solved by simply carrying a water bottle around and filling a water dispenser in my mini fridge.

Step 4: Sleep

I’ve never really understood why but at MIT there’s a sense of honor that accompanies sleepless nights. People will have competitions over whose week is worst. An example Thursday night

Student A: Oh man, I have 3 psets and a paper due Friday and I haven’t even started!

Student B: Wow, that stinks. I only have 2 psets and a project, but I also have 2 midterms tomorrow.

Winner: Student B
Prize: Another all-nighter…. whoopee

And everyone gets swept up in the competition. But I can’t tell you enough how much better everything is with a good night’s sleep. With that said though this step isn’t for everyone. I actually know quite a few people who function best with minimal sleep but sadly I’m not one of those people. What I found works best for me is to do work as early as possible to minimize the late nights and take naps in between classes. The story always go Social Life – Sleep – Good Grades, pick 2, but what they don’t tell you is that a lack of sleep adversely affects your grades AND social life. Having tried all 3C2 combinations, the common denominator for happiness was sleep.

It took me two years to realize but following these four steps made life at MIT so much better. And for a lot of you these steps will look painfully obvious but as someone who had never dealt with living alone in stressful situations it took a while to understand how my body functioned. Hopefully you all can learn from my mistakes.