By: Austin Arias

SUMMER IS HERE! I am sure you are just as excited as I am. But right about now you are probably thinking, “ How did my finals go?” “Did I forget anything in my residence hall when I moved out?” But, you are also probably thinking, “What am I am going to do this summer?” The summer presents us with so many opportunities to recharge and get ourselves back on track. You may have taken on a part-time job or an internship, but regardless you will have some downtime you can really maximize. Our lack of a regular schedule from classes, meetings, more meetings, and exams it is the perfect time to get back on track with yourself. Before we know it, we will be back on-campus and back on the grind. So, let’s maximize the time we have now.

Here are some simple ways to take the first step.

Try something new and find a hobby! – One thing that we always forget about when we’re not doing our school work or leading organizations is those things called hobbies. Hobbies were those things we loved doing all of the time as a kid. They were so simple and brought us so much joy. They were common ground between our friends and helped filled our time in a positive way. We lose these in college, so why not use the summer to try something new and create a new hobby! To start, think of the things you loved doing as a kid – riding a bike, exploring outdoors, painting, hanging with friends or reading FOR FUN. Reconnect with those old hobbies first, then pick something new. It’s time to reconnect with our inner child again.

Start practicing self-care! – Self-care is usually the first to go when we have what seems like 1 million things to get done all at the same time. But using this downtime to practice positive self-care activities is a really great way to figure out how you will then incorporate them when you go back to campus. This is a really great time for you to start doing things like getting on a better sleep schedule, learning more about food and how to cook a balanced meal, doing physical activities or practicing some mindfulness techniques like meditation. Use this time to start checking in with your body and mind. One way I have done this is by spending a bit more time with my dog. He’s a 4-year old rescue pup with the energy of a 6-month old puppy. He needs a lot of exercises, so we go on hikes weekly. I often turn my phone on silent and just be present in the space. It helps me mentally and physically. Win, win.

Reflect and prepare. – Take some time to think through your last year, the goals you set forth and check-in to see how you are doing. Think of this though, holistically. Your goals as a person, a student, and a student leader. How did you do? What went well? What is still a work in progress. Celebrate those successes, figure out what worked and use it to your advantage to make a plan to conquer those goals still in motion. This reflection provides us a sense of harmony, determination and commitment for the year ahead. Once you are away from the hustle and bustle of your campus, you have the opportunity to really think. Reflection can look like a lot of things –  talking to a loved one in telling them about your year (trust me, they would love to hear it) or journaling creating plans of action (maybe one of the new hobbies you gain can be a skill to help you meet your goal).

Have fun, spend time with loved ones and enjoy! – Summer is a really great opportunity for you to reconnect with people and just have some fun. Go on day trips with friends, plan a backyard cookout, go see a movie or head to an outdoor festival – just have fun! This extended break is a great opportunity to strengthen those relationships that may be strained when you are away on-campus and you have more free time than just a week during spring break. Strengthen your circle. I promise you will never regret a bit more time with the ones you care about.

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Well friends, whether you start something new, reconnect with something or someone you love, or just take some time to reflect and prepare for the upcoming year ahead, there are so many opportunities for you to utilize this summer to be your best self when you get back to campus. Your best student, your best student leader but most importantly your best person. So, what’s first for you this summer? I’d love to hear.

Learn more about Austin Arias and his programs at campuspeak.com/speaker/austin-arias