Relax… You’re Here

Living in the moment

The best advice I can give, Pre-Frosh, is to live in the moment. Seize the day.

Now you may groan and say “I know this, and I’m already doing it.” If you are at Yale, you are likely the kind of person who is good at juggling a million activities at once, and when you get here, you will no doubt try to fill your plate with as much as Yale has to offer.

But how often are you actually thinking about what you are currently doing instead of planning the next step you need to take to climb the next rung on the ladder?

Recently, I came across an article called “7 Ways to Enjoy Your Life and Live in the Moment” in the Ladies’ Home Journal while waiting to get my eyebrows waxed at the salon. I camr across some pretty useful tips, especially applicable to Yalies:

  1. There is no such thing as multi-tasking, so you might as well slow it down. Multi-tasking is actually your brain switching its attention back and forth between everything you’re doing. In fact, by not focusing on just one thing, it actually takes you longer to do both and the quality of your concentration on each task is very poor. So the next time you try to finish readings for one class and write a paper for another, all while running 10mph on a treadmill –I’ve seen Yalies attempt this – don’t. Just pick one thing and try to immerse yourself in it. Don’t think about anything else. You’ll find that you’ll remember more material when it comes time to discuss that reading, your writing will be better, and your workout more effective.  If you just don’t have time to do everything one by one, then evaluate your commitments and drop a few.  Quality over quantity.
  2. Rest and Relax. On several nights, especially during my first semester, I would endlessly toss and turn, worried about my work and anxious for the morning to come so I can get it all done before class. Then the next day, I would wake up early and go through the whole day tired and distracted.  Avoid this dilemma by taking a deep breath when you feel overwhelmed. Some people try meditating by focusing on their breathing. I have yet to be able to just sit quietly and push thoughts out of my mind for more than a minute, but if you can do this, go for it.  And above all, try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night.  The ideal way to do this would be to go to bed early and wake up early for a 9 or 10 am class.  If you feel tired during the day, take a quick 20-30 minute nap instead of trying to fight off sleep and plowing through work.
  3. Don’t procrastinate. “Never leave till tomorrow which you could do today,” according to our wise and very prolific founding father, Benjamin Franklin. Leaving aside the technical impossibility of this advice, the gist of the message is to take on the tasks presented to you at the moment, instead of assuming you will get to it tomorrow.  People tend to procrastinate out of a fear of failure.  Not only will risking failure early on provide you time to fix problems in the long run, but by starting something as soon as possible, you will be able to follow the first two steps – uni-tasking and relaxing – with greater success.

As Type-A, high-achieving people living in a fast-paced, time-conscious world, it is extremely difficult to just take a breath, slow down, and enjoy the here and now.  But if you don’t do it, you may find that your time here at Yale goes by too quickly. I write this entry as a hypocrite, because I am the epitome of the distracted, overly active person.  I can certainly testify how hard this advice is to actually follow, especially when you have been racing through life for years. I think what is important is to be aware before you begin college and the rest of your adult life, of the drawbacks of being an Ivy League student and how you can conquer the stress that comes with it.

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About Catherine Dinh

My name is Catherine Dinh. I'm a freshman in Pierson. I'm from Fremont, which is in the Bay Area, California. I am considering majoring in English or Psychology. I enjoy reading, writing, watching movies with friends, shopping, graphic design, taking walks, eating, imagining, and learning new things. I'm a member of ViSA and TAS, but I joined the APA blog because I wanted to reach out to more of the Asian American community here at Yale. In short, I hope this blog will be a huge success and am looking forward to seeing it grow.

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