Post-grad life might seem scary at first, but the gap between college and “real life” could be just what the doctor ordered. Here are five ways you can use this time to get As on your health report card.
- Take some time to snooze. Fewer obligations means more time to sleep, especially in the weeks immediately following graduation. Now is the time to compensate for those all-nighters – for 18- to 25-year-olds, it’s recommended that you get at least six hours of sleep nightly (with the sweet spot at seven to nine hours.) If you’re regularly sleeping more than 11 hours a night, you may want to check with your doctor – more than 11 or less than six is not recommended, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleeping less — or more — could be a sign of serious health issues you may need to address.
- Stop cooking ramen for dinner. If you’re lucky enough to be living with a real kitchen again, experiment with new healthy recipes. Summertime is the ideal time to hit up your local farmers market for crisp veggies and scrumptious fruit. (You can use this printable PDF from foodstalk.org to figure out what’s in season in New York – other states may vary.) And salad is always way more refreshing in hot weather – raise your forks to a healthier mouthful at every meal!
- Schedule a date…a date with a health professional, that is. Dorming at college meant I always put off going to the doctor, the dentist, or anything health-related. Use the gap time to schedule a check-up, the removal of your wisdom teeth, or just to learn about anything your health insurance covers. This applies doubly so if you’re on your college’s health insurance, which usually expires the August following your graduation – check your expiration date and reap the benefits while you’re at home with some free time. Even if you don’t need any medical care right now, use an hour or two as a great opportunity to learn how health insurance actually works via Consumer Reports.
- Put down your books, and pick up your phone. One article from a professor at the University of Michigan suggests it might even boost your brain power. If you think you’re smart enough now, take comfort in the idea that meeting up with your buds staves off cognitive decline as you age – especially as you get older. So making plans for that alumni weekend, year after year, could help you stay smarter longer.
- Reframe your mental focus to days, not months, to get your motivation mojo back. New research published in Psychological Science suggests that when people look at the future in days, instead of months or years, can make it appear more urgent. Consequently, the time you have post-grad is precious. There may be months or even years before you get your “dream job,” but that doesn’t mean your current life is a placeholder before you start your ideal life. Spend the days well – what are you going to do with the 365 of them after you walk across the stage with your diploma? Make ‘em healthy, and make ‘em count.