This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association / American Stroke Association for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
College wasn’t so long ago for me that I’ve forgotten how badly I wanted to just be done with it. I always knew exactly how many weeks of the semester I had left and how many semesters until my big finish.
I was sick of spending so many hours of my week on something that not only didn’t make money, but actually cost me money–I was ready to feel what a true full-time paycheck felt like. I was sick of homework–I was ready to leave my work at work. I was sick of preparing for life, and I was just ready to live life.
But if I could go back and sit down with 18-year-old college freshman, Kate, I’d tell her this:
You’re going to regret the rush.
The three and a half years you’re about to spend at college (yes, you end up working your behind off to cut out one semester)–they’re going to seem like they will never end. But they will end.
And someday, you’re going to miss learning. No one is ever going to give you another 3.5 years to spend the majority of your hours just absorbing knowledge. You’re going to miss having the opportunity to sit under the teaching of some of the wisest people you’ve ever met. You’re going to wish that you hadn’t gotten that professor off topic so many times and that you would’ve taken better notes during so many lectures. You’re going to wish that you’d pressed into the harder questions. You’re going to miss the education–that extrinsic motivation to be disciplined about how you exercised your mind.
No, three years and two children later, I have not forgotten the stress or the all-nighters or the astronomical costs (which is why I do not wish to go to any MORE college, thank you) but I do wish that I could go sit in my 20-year-old pants and help her to just enjoy those classes. I wish I could talk some contentment into that antsy young adult. I wish I could tell her that she’ll never have an opportunity quite like this one again, so stop watching the clock and learn your little heart out–for the both of us! Because life will take off in a completely different direction the moment you hang your cap and gown.
My college regret is real and not something that I can change. But it’s something I can learn from. I realize now that I have a tendency to think that the next season will always be better than my current season. I have a tendency to do just what I need to do to make the good mark while missing the richness of the experience. And I have a tendency to rush and regret.
I have to keep this all in perspective as a mom who often gets bogged down in the thousands of tiny tasks I do to keep my household afloat each day. I have to remember that someday, I will definitely miss this, just like it is now. I won’t miss certain aspects, I’m sure of it, but I’ll look back and wish a little more enjoyment on myself while I lived through it. I’m sure of that, too.
So I’m striving to do better. To go through these years of early motherhood not regretting my attitude while I was in them. Not regretting the way I felt in my heart about where I was at. I want to look back and know that I didn’t withhold any of my presence because I was waiting for a “better” time to really show up.
I also want to look back and know that I did everything I could to be the healthiest me I could be as I go into my latter years–when I have grandchildren to squeeze and adult children to forge friendships with. And that means not taking my brain health for granted now, but instead working toward healthy goals with those someday grand babies in mind.
Would you take a few moments and learn about Brain Health with me? I know that health problems like stroke, memory loss and dementia seem so far off to we who are in our childbearing years, but it’s the lifestyles we’re leading right now that is setting our health trajectory for things to come. And it’s worth learning how to set that trajectory at the best angle for a bright future.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association defines a healthy brain as a brain that is functioning at its best–that means no disease and normal blood flow and oxygen levels. Brain damage can happen when normal blood flow is disrupted. Damage to the brain may cause trouble with memory, speaking, walking and eating. And did you know that when brain cells die, they can never be repaired? Kind of a scary thought, I know.
What are the triggers for brain damage? In other words, what might disrupt the flow of blood to the brain? The heavy hitters are: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, heart disease (such as heart failure) and stroke. You see how heart health and overall health have so much to do with the brain? Crazy how our bodies were so intricately created!
So, what can we do now? What should we do right now to care for our brains? First, we need to know what we’re up against, but also that healthy living is within reach. To keep our brains thinking sharp, we need to strive for a brain-healthy lifestyle that includes Life’s Simple 7:
- Eating well
- Sleeping well (SOMEONE READ THIS TO MY KIDS)
- Being physically and socially active
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Controlling weight
- Not smoking
- Preventing or controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
It’s not an outrageous list; it’s a lifestyle list. And I encourage you, sisters, to live through these important years without any regrets. Be present in this moment; enjoy that season. Know what and who you’re living for, and then give it your all. Honor the future you by investing in the present you.