stay healthy in college
Your college years are often described as the best years of your life, but when juggling exams, papers and a social life, they are also the most stressful. Looking after your mental and physical well-being is crucial if you wish to survive student life and capitalize on your experience. [no_toc]

Being mindful of what you eat

Fast-food is the cheapest and easiest option for students when choosing their meals. Sadly, we all know filling our bodies with burgers, pizzas, and fries is not beneficial to our health and will have the opposite effect of making us feel energized (even if it does taste great!). A healthy diet is essential for getting you through the day, and always making sure to include breakfast in your regime will promote weight maintenance by encouraging your metabolism; this will help you to avoid weight gain and obesity, unlike many of your peers who will fall into the habit of eating when and where is most convenient.

Regular healthy meals will also provide fuel for revision, so try swapping the chocolate for fresh mixed fruits to guarantee you’re getting the right levels of nutrients. Don’t forget to eat meats or proteins and healthy fats as well, as while they may not look quite as attractive as a salad, they’ll give you a perfectly balanced diet. If you struggle to incorporate them into meals, then set a meal plan for the week or prepare the meals in advance so you know what you’re eating and when leaving you to worry only about test performance.

Sometimes, though, taking a supplement will prevent you from missing any important minerals and fiber from your diet. Now I’m not saying do something drastic like following an unorthodox diet trend like protein shakes and kale smoothies, but a small (and affordable) multivitamin, some curcumin, and a fish oil pill once a day should keep your body in peak condition.

A healthy sleep cycle

We’ve all been there- you’re out partying with your friends, then you suddenly realize you have a test tomorrow. What do you do? You do some panic revision, try to cram your head full of knowledge you know you won’t remember the next day. And when this is happening day in, day out, your sleep cycle will be extremely unhealthy. Getting your full 8 hours of sleep every night is critical. Of course, there will be exceptions, but this can easily be corrected by catching up on any missed sleep by fitting a light nap into your schedule.

Insomnia is becoming increasingly prevalent in young adults across America, with approximately 50-70 million people suffering from a sleep disorder. This means it’s not just about how many hours you get, but the quality of those hours. Constantly waking and disrupting your night’s sleep isn’t healthy, so try to avoid restlessness as much as possible. Distract your mind from the stresses of the day and focus on turning off for a while.

Having a nice comforter and pillows are the first step to helping you drift off, as well as a good mattress. The last thing you want is to wake up with back and neck pain from several springs digging into you throughout the night. Similarly, there are methods to help you, such as listening to calming or classical music, using some white noise, or simply counting down from one hundred. Waking up in the morning feeling well rested is the first step in successfully managing busy college life.

Fighting off the flu

Simply being up to date with your vaccinations can make it significantly easier to cope with college. The last thing you need is a nasty germ and a high temperature. Flu shots are fast and easy to access for everyone. Living in such close proximity to people in student dorms, it’s easy to understand how illness can spread so fast. By getting your shot, you can be immunized against strains that have been predicted there will be an outbreak of. Even your roommate could become infected, so instead of waiting for it to happen to you, visit your health clinic.

Staying hydrated

Everyone knows about the importance of water intake, yet so many students struggle to stay hydrated. It’s recommended that you drink eight or more glasses of water a day, so surviving solely on soda is not advisable. If you’re fond of soda for its flavor, despite the high levels of sugar, then flavored water or fruit squash could be a more exciting alternative for you.

And while one upside to college life is the college parties, excessive alcohol consumption isn’t healthy. In fact, it will dehydrate you further. Keeping a water bottle at your desk that you can fill throughout the day will save money buying bottled water, and will provide an excuse to stretch your legs every hour when it needs topping up again.

Keeping fit

While spare time may be scarce when you’re a student, what’s the point in wasting your time doing something that doesn’t benefit you? Drinking and partying may seem like the best option, but, trust me, dedicating a short few hours of your time a week to exercising will have a massive influence in keeping you healthy, both mentally and physically. Even though you will be sweating out all of the toxins that gather in your body, this is a welcome break for your mind. Instead of being buried in a book or staring at a computer screen, this is the perfect time for you to relax and focus only on what you’re doing at the present time, and not your stressful life. Physical activity will also cause your brain to release endorphins, the hormone which causes us to be happy (something you may have difficulty with at college).

You don’t have to join an expensive gym, either. Do yoga. Grab a workout bench. Or take advantage of what your school can offer.  Your college will provide you with opportunities for team sports and clubs, especially since the support of other people can help keep you motivated. And if even this isn’t for you, a light jog around the campus can be enough. Remember, you don’t have to do high-intensity training every single night; just 15 minutes of simple cardio exercise four times a week will equate to one hour in total, which is enough for a healthy lifestyle.

Cutting back on coffee

Even though grabbing an energy drink or a coffee seems like the logical solution when you’re tired and running on empty, they can leave you feeling even more exhausted than you did, to begin with as their seemingly magical effects wear off. For a short period of time there may be a spike in your energy levels, but as your blood sugar plummets, you’re left wanting nothing more than another drink. This, along with your body slowly becoming dependent on the caffeine, is why energy drinks and coffees can be so damaging. Hopefully, by leading a healthy lifestyle, you won’t need to rely on them to keep you awake.

Giving yourself some downtime

Allow yourself some time to relax. It’s a necessity. You need time to let your brain cool down from all of the hard studying you’ve been doing, which in turn will benefit your studying, as you will have a clear head to concentrate with. And the best part is you can de-stress with whatever method you want. Do any activity that alleviates pressure from your mind, whether that is listening to music, doing Pilates, reading a few chapters of your favorite book on an e-reader. Whatever makes you feel calm, just take some time out of your schedule and do it. Taking time to maintain your mental well-being will prevent you from overworking yourself, which will make you much more efficient during lectures. Not only will your body thank you for it, but your work, too.