Taking care of your health is an important aspect of adult life. Both your physical and mental health has a direct impact on your mood, performance, and ability to operate at your full potential.
If you’re like most students in college, this may not seem like a priority.
The earlier you start taking care of your health, the better.
Here’s how to stay healthy in college.
How to Stay Healthy in College
Before you entered college, you lived with parents or guardians that helped you stay healthy. If you were sick, they took you to the doctor. They fed you healthy meals, encouraged you to exercise or participate in activities that kept you moving.
Now that you are in college, you are primarily unsupervised and responsible for meeting your own needs, including your needs for good health.
Like many college students, staying healthy may be the last thing on your mind. You are already stressed due to homework assignments, exams, and other responsibilities. Paying attention to your diet and health habits are not a top priority.
They should be, however. Without good health in college, it will be much more difficult to keep up with the demands of college life.
The good news is that there are definitive ways to stay healthy in college. Some of these are discussed in more detail below.
Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Sleep is crucial to staying healthy in college. During sleep, your body repairs itself from all the wear and tear it experiences during the day.
Good sleep means getting between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. This means turning off your phone, television, computer and any other technologies. The lights and sounds from your devices can trick your mind into thinking it is time to wake up.
Good sleep also means resting in a comfortable environment, establishing a pre-sleep routine for good hygiene, and a routine for relaxation like reading or meditation.
This does not mean you must avoid the occasional college party. You just must prepare for it, so it does not affect you long-term.
Know How to Party the Right Way
Going to parties in college is something most students experience, every week, some occasionally. Going to the party is not bad, it’s what you do at the party that matters.
Avoid drugs and alcohol to stay healthy in college. If you feel like you can’t go to a party and avoid drugs and alcohol, you likely need the help of a counselor or peer mentor.
It’s important to know you can have a great time at a party without the abuse of substances. Some tips to stay sober at a party and have fun include taking your own non-alcoholic drinks with you. Do not accept opened drinks from anyone.
Attend parties with a buddy who also wants to stay sober. Dance, laugh and have a great time. When you return home, complete your sleep routines and enjoy your rest. You can know you will feel great when you wake up the next day versus those who will feel hungover.
It is hard to stay healthy in college if you are not paying attention to what your body needs. To find out what it needs, you must listen. Headaches, joint pains, digestive issues, backaches, sadness, anxiety and many other symptoms are examples of your body telling you something is not right.
When you put off fixing these symptoms, you prolong or make it harder, to become healthy and lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
Instead, practice meditation, yoga, or just sit peacefully to focus on your body parts to see if any areas need attention.
You Are What You Consume
Researchers have discovered that each person has happy chemicals that when released, send messages to your body. These messages include feeling happy, rewarded and satisfied. Chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and norepinephrine are examples.
Until recently, it was thought these chemicals only existed in the brain. Now we know these chemicals are in the gut too. This means that whatever we put into our brain and gut will affect how well these chemicals work.
When you consume food and drinks that are healthy, these chemicals can do their job and help you feel good. When you consume drugs, alcohol and unhealthy foods, these neurotransmitters, or happy chemicals, are not able to operate at their best potential.
Many processed foods contain chemicals and unnatural ingredients that make you feel unhealthy. They can lead to poor physical and mental health.
Making small changes in your consumption habits can have a huge impact on staying healthy in college.
Okay, not many people love hearing the word “exercise” and then being told all the benefits of exercise. You most likely already know how beneficial it can be to your mental and physical health, but you still find it hard to find the time to exercise while in college.
The key is to starting thinking of exercise in a more positive way. Exercise does not mean you must run a marathon each day or take an hour-long spin class at the local gym.
Just ten to fifteen minutes of exercise a day can help you stay healthy in college.
Exercise releases endorphins, our natural pain relievers, into the body. It boosts serotonin that leads to feeling happier. Exercise, even for just a few minutes a day, can aid in weight loss, a less cluttered mind, ability to focus and concentrate better, and many other health benefits.
Start by walking to class instead of driving. If you already walk to class, add in an extra few laps around campus.
As a student, you are around thousands of other people each day, some of which may have the flu or some other virus. No one wears a sign or lets everyone know they are ill. They may not even realize they are contagious.
Prepare yourself for the numerous germ encounters you will have throughout your day so you can remain healthy at college. Wash your hands, don’t share food or drinks, don’t kiss strangers.
And when you are sick, stop what you are doing and take care of yourself. You don’t want to spread germs and you don’t want to make your illness worse.
In conclusion, these are just a few of the ways you can stay healthy while in college. Look at your lifestyle, be honest with yourself and find areas in need of improvement. Then, go for it.