Student Life

Switch it up: Five ways to make every day a new beginning

Life at McGill can sometimes seem a bit stale. Same routine, same classes, probably the same meals, and the same stress that permeates what everyone says are the ‘best four years of your life.’ Lucky for us, we have the power to switch things up.

8:00 a.m. – Start the day with some inner peace

As soon as you wake up, skip the social media notifications and texts from friends—just breathe. Take five or ten minutes to clear your mind and leave all worries behind. Whether you’re a meditation-pro or new to it all, there’s always somewhere to start. Apps like Headspace and Calm are excellent options to  guide you through meditations and deep-breathing if you’re new to the practice. If you’re already well-versed in the world of inner peace, there’s good news for you: It doesn’t end at the morning routine. You can practice mindfulness throughout the day by focusing on the present moment and putting all you to-dos to the side as you enjoy what’s in front of you. There are many ways to be mindful, but starting small with a few minutes-long meditation each day is a great first step.

10:00 a.m. – Perform a random act of kindness

Not only do you have the power to better your day, but you can also drastically improve someone else’s. McGill’s atmosphere tends to foster competition and intense stress, often resulting in very individualistic thinking. Make a radical—and sweet—change by doing something with someone else entirely in mind. Drop by Tim Horton’s and pick up some coffee and a few Timbits for your best friend or classmates—it’ll brighten their day, and seeing them happy will make you feel great. Don’t fret if you’re tight on money; simple, kind acts go a long way in making someone’s day better. Whether it be a compliment or giving someone your seat on the metro, random acts of kindness bring out the best in others.  

11:00 a.m. – Enjoy an ‘alternative school day’  

Once in awhile, give yourself the thumbs up to go play hooky—but resist the temptations to stay in bed and sleep the day away. Instead, catch a matinée showing of Beauty and the Beast and have buttery popcorn for breakfast—or hit up the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and spend the afternoon admiring the works of Marc Chagall. While missing class can lead to more stress and is not recommended for everyone, it can be fun to ignore your responsibilities and indulge the five-year-old in you. Other options include making your own pizza, hiking up Mount Royal, studying at the cat café, or watching all eight Harry Potter movies in one go. There’s something about having fun on a weekday—maybe just because you’re supposed to be studying—but the day is yours, so make the most of it.

6:00 p.m. – Get creative with your food

Make something besides bland chicken and broccoli for dinner, and cook up a dish that’s both delicious and totally out of your tastebuds’ comfort zone. Have you been noticing those Tasty videos all over your Facebook newsfeed? Now is the time to try them—from fried mac n’ cheese sticks to a potato asparagus tart, there are endless mouthwatering options.

9:00 p.m. – Find the good in each day and write it down

While you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you react, and trying to see the silver lining can go a long way. Positive thinking has immense physiological benefits, from living longer to developing a stronger immune system. But if you tend to see the glass half-empty,
noticing the inherently good parts of each day can be hard. To channel your inner positive thinker, try a ‘happy jar.’ At the end of the
day, write down something wonderful that happened on a small slip of paper and
date it. This helps to focus on the good parts of your day, even if it was
rather awful overall. Once you’ve written something down, fold it up and toss it into a
container of your choice. The next time you’re having a really bad day, you can
simply open up your jar and sift through the little notes and happy reminders.
Every day comes to an end just as every day brings a new beginning; the moment
the sun rises, you have an opportunity to see and feel the good—try to take it.

You don’t have to wait until New Year's Day to make resolutions; change happens whenever you want it to—and we get a new chance at it every day.

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