“How do you balance being a Harvard student and collegiate athlete?” Answer: priorities. Prioritizing my state of mind and body are the number one concerns in my life. This is the most frequently asked question I have received since getting to Harvard 3 years ago. I may have an answer, but I certainly have not escaped the challenges of maintaining my health at all costs. That is where my answer comes into play. When I prioritize my daily health like I focus on my academics and my sport, I experience multifaceted benefits in all that I do. As a senior and veteran of the student athlete lifestyle, I have come up with a few priorities that improve my academic and athletic performance:

Sleep. Sure, some students can fall asleep in class and barely make it back to their beds for a long nap after class. But, these students do not have a 3 hour practice after 4 hours of class. My worst practices in colleges have been a direct result of sleep deprivation, which is why sleep has become my most treasured priority. Anywhere from 7 to 9 hours leaves me feeling fresh and energized when 3pm hits and I am expected to get better when stepping foot on the court. Some nights, this is impossible with schoolwork, but a conscious effort to make this a habit turns into a craving for these sufficient hours of sleep and that is key.

Goals. Everything can get jumbled and overwhelming at times. These are the times when I sit down and make a list of weekly (short term) and monthly (long term) goals. I find that this makes me take a breath and reflect on what I want to accomplish in the short and long term future. Mental well-being is just as important for performance as my body’s capabilities. A disordered mind means a wasteful class or a useless practice. I learned to develop a goal oriented mind through sports and it has been incredibly beneficial in my academics as well.

Input=Output. Eating well and hydrating are absolutely necessary. My mom taught me the concept of input=output at a young age. This is the idea that I need to feed my body what it needs if I want my body to do what I want it to do. There are hundreds of theories on proper nutrition but I have found that a balance of protein, slow digesting carbs, lots of veggies, fruit and constant water work best for my lifestyle. The most important part is knowing the effects of alcohol and large amounts of junk food on performance levels, which, by the way, is not good news.

The end of my life as a student athlete is in the near future but these priorities will stay with me in my career and the rest of my life. I cannot imagine feeling any other way than I do now. Waking up feeling motivated and productive is not an easy feat, but I cherish my healthy habits that help me achieve this for the majority of the week. I am so excited to see companies and institutions focusing on well-being for employees and I dream to work for a company that emphasizes this necessity for performance on all levels because I know that is where we can all thrive.

Originally published at medium.com