Three years into college and I wonder what's gotten me through the numerous all-nighters and the constant stress.  Could it be the occasional drinking to take the load off? Or could it be the power nap that too often turns into a power sleep? Nope...not quite. I actually always get reminded of that one day freshman year, my obvious high point where I found myself crying on the floor against my lofted bed searching the Internet for ways to get my life together and be productive without feeling overwhelmed with stress.  

The answer I found the most reoccurring was "a clear headspace".

I define headspace as a person's inner and outer environment - who they are, how they are, what they do, where they work, how long they work, etc.  A person's mood is largely affected by their day-to-day events, but for me, maintaining a clear headspace has proven fruitful in keeping myself calm, sane, and for the most part, happy.

But how do you clear your headspace?

This depends on how you are as a person. How do you deal with mess? Do you live an active lifestyle? Can you handle stress? Do you thrive off of pressure? You know yourself best so if none of these tips pertain to you, no big deal - there are many ways to learn this about yourself, but regardless, these tips are all worth a try.

1. Keep a clean apartment.

...and yes, this is easier than you'd actually think. I came into the school year knowing I wanted to maintain a clean apartment with lots of light and little clutter.

Every time I come home I peel open the blinds to let the Atlanta skyline act as a wall to my apartment. And every night I tidy up by washing all my dishes for the day, rearranging my desk, hanging my clothes, and keeping up with my laundry. I'm sure this sounds like a lot, but doing it every day allows this to be a 15-minute process, rather than a two hour one. And it feels super refreshing to fall asleep and wake up to a clean and free space.

2. Keep an organized life keepsake.

I need to write things down at all times. I have journals filled with all my favorites, whether it be movies, programs, quotes, or phrases. Thinking about these sorts of things keeps me in touch with myself, which I find really calming. Time for reflection is so important in keeping yourself comfortable with who you are and how you work.

3. Follow a workout regiment.

working out, outdoors, outside, workout, two girls, squats, Friends, exercise, grass
Julia Gilman

Welcome to the Mind-Body Problem, the debate over the status of the relationship between your mind and body. Your mind deals with your emotions and your level of consciousness, while your body deals with your physical attributes - size, weight, and fitness. Many perspectives approach this debate in a number of ways, but from personal experience, I would have to stand on the side that favors a strong relationship between mind and body.

Reflection and journaling brings you closer to yourself and your emotions, and through that, I have noticed the correlation between mental and physical - how my mental state is strongly influenced by my physical state. Disregarding the importance of taking care of your physical self by not exercising can lead to feelings of lethargy and heaviness that do have their impacts on your mentality.  Emphasizing fitness in my own life has encouraged me to believe in my own capabilities and push myself further.

4. Practice healthy lifestyle habits.

I do eat Taco Bell around once a week, and I am currently suggesting that you practice up-keeping a healthy lifestyle (including organic/natural food). Oh, the irony. But there are foods that can propel your mood forward - it's news to me too.  Also, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, which means 7-9 hours (shocker, right?). Neither of these will pay off right away unfortunately, but turning them into habits will show real results. 

And no, just because you work fantastic off of little to no sleep (a phrase I have said too many times in college) does NOT mean you don't need to sleep. Your body is overcompensating and you actually aren't functioning as your best self.

5. Dedicate time to yourself.

Alone time is extremely important. Being surrounded by people at all times is unrealistic. There's value in being your own person and living your own life so when you have the time, get to know yourself.  

If you live on your home, you're in luck - you can treat yourself to a home-cooked meal, you can watch your favorite TV show before bed, you can proceed at your own pace. If you have a roommate and struggle to find any alone time in your room, take yourself to get some coffee, go for a walk/run, find an area where you can express your creativity and let your mind be at ease.

And if your friends tend to stress you out, maybe reconsider their place in your life.  Friends should be able to communicate freely and be there for one another.

smiling, happy, happy girl, smiling girl, smile, cucumber eyelids, cucumber, vegetable
Julia Gilman

Offering yourself a clear headspace is one of the most beautiful things you could do for yourself, but it does take some time so be patient with yourself.  Your life will reflect the differences, as will your mood and body.