PSA To College Students: You Need To Go Outside For Once

PSA To College Students: You Need To Go Outside For Once

Even for busy college students, spending time outdoors is worth prioritizing.

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Last semester, I spent approximately four hours per day inside classrooms, another four hours studying in the library, an hour or two at the dining hall, and the rest of the day at work and in my dorm room. Some nights, I went to restaurants, concerts, and campus events -- all mainly indoors. And, although I exercised regularly at the gym, I rarely spent time outdoors for purposes beyond walking from building to building. Outdoor spaces acted merely as transitions rather than places of their own, and I gave them little time.

This lifestyle sharply contrasts my life when I was younger. Growing up in Minnesota, I explored the woods and countryside in the warm months and played in the snow in the winter. Life was simpler. I was happier. And, in recent years, returning to my roots, the more time I've spent outdoors, the better I have felt physically and mentally.

Still, in the chaos of last semester, I spent the majority of my time indoors. And, if you're a college student with a similar pattern of working and studying, maybe you did, too. Arguably, the majority of the "college experience" takes place indoors. Spending time outdoors, however, is crucial to health and well-being.

"Shelter is a basic human need," writes Markham Heid for TIME. "But staying indoors all day may fuel anxiety, insomnia, and that too-familiar sense that humans just aren't meant to spend the whole day inside."

If you are currently struggling to sleep, dealing with extra stress, or even feeling depressed, your body may lack essential exposure to the elements of the outdoors -- especially sunlight. "Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain's release of a hormone called serotonin," according to Healthline. "Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused." Essentially, your brain needs serotonin for you to feel happy and function at your best level.

This is what makes sunlight so valuable. And, no matter how hectic your school, work, or social life is, outside time is worth prioritizing. Try taking your study session outside; here at FSU, you can study in the relaxing environment of Landis Green, and there are multiple locations across campus to set up a hammock. You could even try studying at a table outside of your favorite coffeeshop instead of inside.

If you would rather keep your study time inside the library, try dedicating leisure time to outdoor adventures. FSU students can take advantage of free access to the Rez as well as free equipment rentals. Additionally, Outdoor Pursuits leads adventures like hiking, caving, and canoeing with affordable fees for FSU students. With all of these options, as well as numerous parks and beaches around Tallahassee, there is an outdoor adventure for every budget.

However, maybe your schedule simply doesn't allow time for any of these activities. The easiest solution has notable health benefits: go for a walk. "A 10-minute walk can enhance physical fitness, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and improve brain function, like learning and memory," according to Gretchen Reynolds for the New York Times. For college students, the mental benefits of walking are incredibly valuable. Learning and memory are crucial brain functions for college success, and walking for just ten minutes is a tiny price to pay.

Now is the perfect time to get a healthy start to your spring semester. Consider the ideas above to begin integrating outdoor time into your schedule, and reap the physical and mental benefits that you sow.

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Being Home From School, As Told By Rachel Green

You never know how good you have it on campus until it's 9pm and all the stores at home are closed.
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Oh, look, another Odyssey Article about the struggles of being a college student home for summer break. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Our lives aren't actually that difficult, but it is definitely weird being home. If you know a college student, chances are that despite the workload, the late nights and the sub-par dining commons food, they wish they were back on campus. That's how magical college life can be. And being home isn't bad, per se, it's just... not campus.

1. You miss your friends. Like crazy.

It's not that your family isn't great company, or your high school friends aren't really your friends anymore. They are, and you love them! It's just that you don't bond with anyone quite like you do with the people you're at the library with until four o'clock in the morning, working on an essay you realize is due in two days and not the next one.

2. You realize just how good you had it at the dining commons.

Who knew you could miss mystery meat and pre-packaged sandwiches? College students who realize that cooking is not their thing, and the easiest snacks are the sugary ones you buy for a dollar at the gas station.

3. You have to get a summer job, and it's not the cushy three-hour gig you had at school.

The first two weeks after you get home are so full of hope. You run around to twelve different stores, picking up applications, flashing that college-counselor certified resume. And it almost feels as though you've got it together. Until week three hits and you're still jobless and still not unpacked.

4. You finally get to see your college friends, and leaving them feels like ripping an arm off.

I mean you miss them for a reason. What, did I expect saying goodbye a second time would be easier? Of course not. And the amount of planning that had to go into getting together with them was sort of absurd.

5. In your unemployment, your parents give you some chores to do... and then they ask if you finished them.

Where do the days go? You have maybe a few babysitting jobs, minimal errands to run and still there doesn't seem to be enough time to vacuum and do the dishes. Maybe the twenty minutes before your mom gets home from work is enough time to give the illusion of cleanliness.

6. Your siblings are always in your room. Always.

You love your family. Really truly. But it's easier to love them if you don't spend every second sitting right next to them, picking up on all the annoying little habits they have. Pro tip; a good relationship with a sibling means never, ever eating popcorn near each other.

7. You've caught up on sleep, organized your room, done your chores and ran out of Netflix shows. What now.

There are very few things worse than knowing it's summer vacation, knowing you should be out having fun before another school year begins... and still being bored out of your mind.

8. In the end, though, you'll be okay

There's only so much summer to go around. Get done what you've been meaning to, talk to your friends frequently and get ready for another fun-filled school year in the coming fall. You'll need all the rest you can get.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros. TV

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5 Reasons Why Staying At College For The Summer Is The Ultimate Power Move

No school, no rules, summer vacation at the best place on Earth, also known as college.

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As summer begins, it brings in the joy of no more school but for most what summer really brings is the sad realization that we have to leave our favorite place and go back to our boring home town with none of our new best friends. Although some have decided to stay at college for the summer and they will soon realize why this will be the best choice that they will be making all summer.

1. NO PARENTS 

What's better than no school, warm weather, and most importantly no one to say, "Are you just going to sleep till 2:30 p.m. every day this summer?"

1. It's like the weekend, but every day

Do you know what weekends felt like during the school year when you didn't have anything to do? No? You never had any free weekends? Wow, I'm so sorry. Well, imagine a weekend that you didn't have to do anything. Now multiply that one weekend by seven and you get seven Saturday like days where you do not have a single care in the world.

3. No "Go cut the grass!"

For the sons, you know that annoying time every week when your dad is going to say, "Go cut the grass." There is nothing you can do to get out of it. Well, staying at school for the summer means no more nagging. You get to choose what you do now.

4. The bond of friendship

The friends you make when you stay at college for the summer are different than any other bond. Mostly because you all don't have a care in the world since it's summer in your favorite place. It's a right of passage to call someone your summer college best friends. These are best friends that words wouldn't do justice.

5. The townies

Everybody always wonders what happens to a college town when all the college kids go home. Well, the townies come back in full swing and take their town back. If you stay at your college, you get to experience what most can't even describe in words. To the one mid-40s guy trying to relive his glory days. To the old men hitting on the college girls at the local pub. To the weird towny creatures that make you shiver with fright as you drive past them. Have fun townies, you only have three months.

That dream of "I wish I could just stay here at college with all these people but have no responsibilities" is finally coming true.

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