School is officially out for many people in BC. With online classes, compressed schedules and a lot of uncertainty, both teachers and students deserve a much needed summer break. Breaks in between classes often vary from person to person. Some people choose to decompress by binge watching their go-to television shows and movies, or get into some of their favourite video games. Others will unplug and get outside by going exploring the great outdoors. We all probably enjoy a healthy mix of outside and inside time during our time off from school, but just because you are not in class does not mean that you cannot stay productive. There are plenty of daily habits you can incorporate into your schedule this summer that can improve a wide variety of aspects in your life.
The most important habit to pick up this summer is a reasonable sleep schedule. This may be a controversial topic for many people because staying up late and sleeping in is one of the most popular activities for young adults. Whenever I chat with my peers in September, one of the first things that is brought up when asked what they did this summer was sleep. While I am all for getting at least 8 hours each night, having a chaotic sleep program can come with a lot of baggage. Headaches and migraines are a very common side effect of improper sleep. The mental toll of sleeping can be damaging to your mood and outlook on life. I’m not saying that sleeping in is never okay, but it should be seen as a treat rather than a daily habit. There are plenty of ways to help your sleeping back on track. Supplementing melatonin, exercising before bed, and cutting down on sugar and caffeine intake are all viable solutions that can put you on the right path for healthy sleep.
Money is a topic a lot of people have a hard time talking about. In some instances, it is seen as more of a taboo topic than religion or politics. This is probably happening due to a lack of financial literacy and confidence, which are subjects that a lot of young adults struggle with. It may seem very intimidating to jump into learning about money when our financial world is upside down at the moment. Whether it’s the crazy stock market or the fear of inflation, there is always something new to keep up with and it can feel very draining. However stressful it may appear it be, it is paramount that young people ingratiate themselves into the world of money for the betterment of themselves and the general economy. A fantastic way to start is by investing. When people hear the word investing they often think of stocks or real estate. Those are both extremely viable asset classes. A slight issue however is that younger people lack significant capital to make a big splash in the markets, unless you are willing to gamble it on more speculative options. This often deters people from investing in general which is completely understandable but that does not mean you can’t put your money to good use. Investing in yourself is one of the smartest and effective things you can do with your money while you are young. Understanding that in order to make good money you must first have good skills is a message that we should all live by if we want to succeed financially. Coming to a school like BCIT is a perfect example of investing in yourself by equipping yourself for a complex workforce. It does not have to end with traditional schooling, as there are a plethora of online courses and mentorships available that teach you employable, high income skills. Loading yourself up with the knowledge and skills to succeed will then give you the confidence to then invest in assets like stocks or real estate.
An interesting trend that the COVID-19 pandemic has created is a spike in pet ownership. Over 50% of Canadians claim to own a pet now. This rise has some solid logic behind it, since we have all been put into a position of distance and isolation. While the immediate effects of companionship are very noticeable, there are plenty of under the radar benefits to your physical and mental health. One of the more obvious benefits you will start to notice is the increase of your own activity. Whether it comes from taking your dog for a walk or even running errands for kibble, exercise releases neurotransmitters in your brain which can boost your mood. While you may be your pet’s personal caretaker, that does not mean that they do not have roles to play as well. Dogs and cats are very good at sensing how you are feeling. They accomplish this by observing your behaviour, body language and tone of voice. When they notice that you are not acting like your usual self, pets often make gestures to try and cheer you up. This can range anywhere from cuddling up with you to presenting you a dead animal they caught from outside. Who could’ve thought that buying a pet could replace your need for therapy! Another benefit pets provide is an increased motivation and productivity level. Having to take care of something can give the laziest person a sense of purpose in their life, especially when that something is a loveable ball of fur. Having a pet gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, which is a common struggle a lot of people go through. You can also create healthier habits that mix in exercise, early mornings and responsibility. We all have parental instincts in us, and while our birth rates may be down across North America, that doesn’t mean we cant put those natural instincts to work by taking care of a pet.
As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, other issues in our world have persisted and even worsened in some cases. One of the most critical problems we face today as a population revolves around how we are going to deal with our garbage. According to the World Bank, approximately 2 billion tons of waste is produced each year. This is already a frightening statistic, but it could become even more terrifying given the factor of increasing populations and consumption. We often talk about the threat of climate change, however I feel that the threat we are currently facing with garbage is more apparent and can be controlled if we all do our part .
A key principle in combating this garbage issue is renewing your sense of personal responsibility. Understanding that every piece of waste you produce is contributing to a massive problem. We will never see the light of day when we are completely waste free, however we can certainly make better decisions when it comes to getting rid of our garbage. Purchasing more biodegradable products, reusing our plastics, and cutting down on overconsumption are fantastic strategies that can play a part in promoting a cleaner culture.
Another thing you can do to help take on this challenge is by holding corporations and politicians accountable, making it clear that waste management is an issue worth caring about. We may enjoy our province’s natural beauty, however it will not last if we continue to neglect our waste production. This problem requires cooperation from both government, business, and citizens. It is paramount that we all get on the same page in order to tackle this issue before it’s too late. That means cutting out debates on plastic straws and focusing on uniting one another for the greater good of our community.
The past 14 months have shaken up the way we go about our daily lives. Things we took for granted such as shaking hands and travelling have been temporarily put on hold. Arguably one of the biggest changes that took place last year was the transition to online learning. This style of education was a very practical solution for the pandemic, but there have been some questions and concerns regarding its long term effects on students, teachers, and the entire landscape of education. Let’s review the biggest pro and con about online learning and look forward to seeing if it has what it takes to be the permanent way we educate ourselves.
Let’s get the bad out of the way by going over the biggest downside of online learning which has to be the lack of interpersonal communication. While our world may be moving towards the future, we are still the same humans we always have been. We are very sentimental creatures that value sharing time and space with one another. As a matter of fact, we have seen the effects this pandemic has had on our mental health first hand which have reminded us that we are not robots. We may have still been able to communicate essential information to our fellow classmates and instructors, however this new online space has left a void that intimate connections used to fill. This issue may never be solved under the new online program.
A lack of human connection does not mean that online learning has been a complete waste though. The most positive change that has appeared has been the newfound flexibility it has given us. Whether classes are live or self-directed, having the ability to go to school from the comfort of your own home has been a very freeing experience for many people. Students have been able to attend class from all over the world as long as they have internet connection. Extracurricular productivity has increased, giving students the ability to craft their schedules to achieve a healthier work-life balance. It’s safe to say that this new online style has been favoured by many students.
As we begin to make a cautious return to normalcy, the temporary aid of online learning has been appreciated. It may not be a perfect alternative to traditional education, it certainly has its place and will continue to see improvements as we advance technologically.