Sunday, August 21, 2011

Establishing a Routine

This talk was given to JPII students on August 22, 2011 during school assembly.

There was a senior boy I knew that would walk into school every Monday morning comatose, almost like a walking zombie. He was a smart kid, but if he took a test on Monday, he usually did very poorly. By Wednesday, he was OK and did much better in school, only to walk into school as a zombie the following Monday. Yes, I suspect drinking was an issue. But I think there was something else happening to him: his whole body clock was completely screwed up from the weekend as well.

Sleep is a good thing. Our bodies need it, and in general as a society, we don’t get enough of it. That’s particularly true of you as teenagers. Scientists are unanimous that you need an average of 8.5 to 9 hours/night to function at peak efficiency, which would mean if you woke up at 6 a.m. for school, you’d have to be asleep in bed by 9 or 9:30 p.m. That’s not happening! Nationally, only 15% of teens get the right amount of sleep, and I suspect the number is even smaller here at JPII.

There’s a commercial that Clairol used to run of a beautiful model who would say: “Clairol: It costs more, but I am worth it.” The underlying message: indulge and pamper yourself. But I think there’s probably a difference between pampering oneself and taking care of oneself. The difficulty of adjusting to high school really isn’t the difficulty of the curriculum but finding the right balance, in disciplining oneself to not only keep up with the homework but also balancing the extra-curricular life with the need to sleep, eat and exercise properly. It’s a time management issue, really, and for most of you, your parents are giving you the space to manage your time as you see fit.

Incredibly, we’re beginning our fourth week of school today. By now you have a sense of your classes, which ones are the most demanding, which ones you’ll need to concentrate more on to do well. You know what your coaches expect of you, and you have an idea of which clubs you want to join and what the time commitments are. If you haven’t already, it’s important to find your groove, to establish the right routine so that you can operate most efficiently. Our bodies are like machines in many ways, and work at their best when we have a regular bedtime, wake-up time, time for rest, time for work. That’s partly why this senior boy was such a zombie and why, for example, most of us are cranky on Mondays: we’ve disrupted the natural rhythm of am earlier routine bedtime and wake-up time from the week by staying up much later and waking up much later on the weekends.

Regular sleep, regular exercise, and regular study times- find the routine that works best for you and try and stick to it. And don’t forget to include prayer as part of that routine: God wants us to rely on him, and when we do so, we’ll find he can take a lot of weight off our shoulders.

Have a good week.

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