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Lifestyle Factors

Many factors in your life play a role in the learning process. Your general health and fitness, ability to relax, and sleep patterns all determine the quality of your attention and your capacity for retaining information. What's more, the quality of your relationships can either aid or distract from learning.

The following resources will help you evaluate areas of your life that affect your academic performance. They also provide steps you can take to maximize your lifestyle and support your educational goals.

Caring for your body can enhance your psychological well-being and help you handle the rigors of academia. Exercise makes your body release endorphins, which help lower stress, and ease the impact of cortisol, which can wreak havoc on the immune system. Good nutrition can help ward off depression and anxiety, and a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants has been shown to help improve concentration.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to a range of physical and mental health issues, including a weakened immune system and slow reaction time. The National Institutes of Health recommends seven to eight hours each night for adults and highlights the importance of sleep for learning and retaining information.

Your physical health and mental well-being have a symbiotic relationship. Just as you need to exercise and eat well to stay mentally balanced, relaxation can improve your physical well-being by reducing stress, decreasing inflammation, and lowering the incidence of illness. While relaxation can take many forms, clinical research suggests that breathing exercises, such as meditation, can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and fend off stress hormones.

To succeed in demanding pursuits, we must rejuvinate. Participating in activities that are purely for enjoyment or recreation—crafts, sports, art, games, puzzles, walking or biking in nature, or simply counting stars—allows you to relax, de-stress, and rebuild your reserves. Play restores your creativity, enhancing your ability to think in new ways. With sports played for fun, the physical exertion provides even more mental release.

Having a support system—which might include family members, friends, professional colleagues, mentors, or peers in community organizations—also helps foster a sense of well-being. Whether you have just returned from combat or recently left a professional position, making the transition to academic life can be difficult. Engaging with others and participating in group activities can ease this transition and make your time at NPS even more rewarding.

Having a reliable support network to provide guidance, mentorship, and encouragement can be one of the greatest assets for military members and government employees as well as their families. Organizations and offices here on campus and throughout DOD can help you with a range of issues including housing accommodations, legal services, counseling, youth or teen programs, and accommodations for disabilities.