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Helpful Habits: Training your future self

by The Stylus
Tue, Apr 3rd 2018 09:00 pm
As we grow older, the habits that we develop can transform into lifelong tracks that can send us toward either a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. Especially in college, making the right lifestyle choices is crucial.
Elliott LaPoint/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST As we grow older, the habits that we develop can transform into lifelong tracks that can send us toward either a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. Especially in college, making the right lifestyle choices is crucial.

College is ordinarily the last step on a student’s path to a career, which means, to some, that it’s the last chance for them to embrace the lack of responsibility before submitting to the bland lifestyle of adulthood. To others just coming in, college is a new type of freedom away from home. It is important to note that the habits we create in college translate over to our lives after graduation. Some of these habits can be negative, like excessive partying.

Too often, college partying is sensationalized and diminished, not only as something that’s not that big of a deal, but something that should be going down. Practices like day drinking, day parties and taking drugs like Adderall to “focus” have become common trends across campuses. However, we don’t seem to stop and think about how these habits can form. All you need to do is repeat the same thing enough times for it to become a habit.

When it comes to drug abuse, like Adderall, the long-term effects include things like depression, hallucinations, heart disease, tremors and lethargy. Even more serious, Adderall abuse can lead to physical damage to the brain and internal organs, and withdrawal symptoms.

As much as students want to think Adderall is helping them perform better in school, it is also damaging them in the long run. This is just another example of how the habits you form in college can become habits for life.

According to American Addiction Centers, “Stimulant drugs like Adderall are addictive and using them recreationally may increase the chances of developing a psychological and physical dependence on them.”

Similar to drugs like Adderall, regular alcohol drinking in college isn’t seen as that big of a deal, like it’s a normal thing that won’t have long lasting effects. It almost seems like the next thing you get handed after your diploma is a beer.

The Monitoring the Future Study showed in 2016 that 81 percent of college students tried alcohol at least once. Sixty seven percent of the students who have tried alcohol said they have been drunk before and 32 percent of college students reported that they binge drink. Binge drinking can be defined as consuming large amounts of alcohol, usually five or more drinks, in a single sitting.

According to the Monitoring the Future Study, “During the two weeks prior to the survey about one in eight (12 percent) college students reported they have consumed 10 or more drinks in a row at least once, including one in 25 (four percent) who reported consuming 15 or more drinks in a row.”

Though some people find alcohol to be a fun time, it’s important to remember to drink in moderation. Too much binge drinking in college will lead to alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of chronic liver disease, which can damage the entire body. Once the damage is done, it is irreversible. In severe cases, alcoholic liver disease has a mortality rate of 50 percent.

According to Medical News Today, 20 percent of liver transplants occur as a result of alcoholic liver disease, which makes it the third most common reason to have to get a transplant, under chronic hepatitis C and liver cancer (also caused by alcohol abuse).

That’s only one disease that alcohol abuse can cause. Alcoholism has been linked to over 200 diseases and health issues. Some of them include: gastritis, heart disease, pancreatitis, mouth cancer, diabetes, dementia, irritable bowel syndrome and so many more, including mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and antisocial personality disorder. All of this because binge/daily drinking became a habit during your free weekends in college.

Not all habits are negative however. You can form healthy habits that last beyond college, too. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in  training yourself to form healthy habits.

According to an article in The New York Times called “How to form healthy habits in your 20s,”  in order to teach your brain to associate exercise with a reward, you need to give yourself something you really enjoy — like a small piece of chocolate — after your workout.

The article goes on to explain how this may sound counterintuitive, but overtime you’ll stop craving the chocolate and instead want to feel those endorphins kick in instead.

“Eventually, your brain will start expecting the reward inherent in exercise,” author Charles Duhigg wrote. “And you won’t need the chocolate anymore. In fact, you won’t even want it. But until your neurology learns to enjoy those endorphins and the other rewards inherent in exercise, you need to jump-start the process.”

There are more healthy habits that don’t require a plate of veggies or jogging four times a week. Saving money is one of the healthiest habits you can form in your early twenties. Just like how if you exercise you’ll   be more likely to still be looking fine at 40, if you start saving money to look fine in a real diamond necklace.

A little saving goes a long way. If you take just $20 out of each of your biweekly paycheck and put it in a savings account or even a jar on your desk, by the end of the year, you’d have saved up $520 and you’ll definitely thank yourself later. 

We’re not telling you to stay sober throughout your entire college education, but simply bear in mind the consequences you could be facing if you begin down a dark, spiral staircase of alcohol and drug abuse. 

You don’t have to flush your life down the toilet if you party in moderation and exercise, both your body and your brain, somewhat regularly. The important thing to remember is that you should be having fun, but that fun shouldn’t be at the expense of your own health or the health of others.

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