Staying Healthy At College or University
Many college and university students have difficulty maintaining their personal health and wellness until it catches up with them. From avoiding the “freshman 15” to maintaining good mental health, here are some things to remember before the first semester begins.
Getting proper nutrition can be a challenge when you first go away to school. Here are some tips to help you avoid the freshman 15
- Learn proper portion size. Did you know that for most people, meat servings should be about the size of a deck of cards? Using this plate method for portion size can be a useful tool http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/
- Eat breakfast. Start your day off right with a good meal when you get up.
- Keep healthy snacks around. It’s easier if you stock your dorm room with fruits and other healthy snacks and force yourself to go to the grocery store when the craving for Doritos hits you.
- Drink moderately. You can still have a good time without consuming all the calories that come along with binging on beer, plus you’ll avoid the hangovers and other negative effects. Drink in moderation and you can have a good time without hurting your health.
- Drink water. Drinking enough water can help boost your concentration as well as keep you from overeating. Make sure to stay hydrated by bringing water with you to class.
- Limit sugary and caffeinated beverages. You don’t have to completely give up soda and coffee, but these empty calories can make you gain weight.
Staying active is critical to your physical and emotional health
- Play a sport. Joining an intramural team through your school can keep you active. It is fun and a great way to meet new people.
- Go to the gym. Most schools have gym facilities. Make going to the gym a regular part of your schedule. You can head to the gym between classes or when you get up in the morning to squeeze in a workout or join-in on a fitness class.
- Walk or ride to class. While taking the bus might be quicker, walking or biking will give you a chance to stretch your legs, burn some calories and relax before class.
Getting enough sleep is an essential part of staying healthy.
- Take a nap. If you have the time during the day, a short nap can do wonders for your energy levels. Just make sure not to nap too close to bedtime or for too long.
- Get a full night’s rest whenever possible. Most people need 7-9 hours to feel fully rested. Try to sleep a full night whenever you get the chance. Lack of sleep reduces your ability to concentrate and to excel at class, so try to get as much sleep as you need.
- Avoid all-nighters. You may feel like you need to study all night, but not getting enough sleep can impair your ability to do well on a test, regardless of how much you’ve studied. Make sure you get at least a little sleep before your big test.
- Create a bedtime routine. If you have trouble falling asleep at night you can help yourself by creating a routine that will let your mind and body know that bedtime is approaching and that it should get into sleep mode. After a few weeks of practice this should help you fall asleep when you need to.
College is a place where many students choose to explore their sexuality. You can do this safely by following these tips.
- Get tested. If you are sexually active protect your health by getting tested for STDs annually or even more frequently.
- Always use protection. Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a partner who has been confirmed STD-free, always make sure to use protection to prevent the risk of contracting a disease.
- Discuss issues with your partner. Sex shouldn’t be painful or scary. If you are nervous or uncomfortable with any element of your sexual relationship, make sure to bring these things up with your partner or health care provider to ensure things are emotionally and physically ok.
- Get regular exams. Whether you’re male or female, getting checked out regularly is a must. Women can get breast exams and pap smears that can greatly reduce their risk of cancer.
- Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. While you may feel pressure from a partner or even those around you to engage in certain sexual activities, never do anything you aren’t completely comfortable with. It’s your body and you are in charge, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Students can get run down with so much going on. These tips can help you beat the stress.
- Create a routine. If you get yourself in the habit of studying, working out, and sleeping at certain hours, it will be easier to fit in all the things you need to do in a day without feeling too stressed out.
- Give yourself a break. If you’ve been working steadily for hours, give your eyes and mind a chance for a rest by taking a break. You can come back feeling more refreshed and ready to go. You can’t work all the time-fun and relaxation have to be part of your routine as well.
- Ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out and ask for help from professors and friends. They may be able to give you more time or help you to complete projects and studying more quickly.
- Give yourself plenty of time. It’s easy to put off starting on a big project or studying for a test until the last minute. You’ll be much less stressed out and will likely do better if you give yourself more time to work on it.
- Don’t let yourself get run down. With so much to do, it’s easy to get run down. If you feel yourself getting stretched too thin, take a step back and evaluate everything you’ve got going on to determine what’s really important.
College and university students are in a high risk group for depression, so make sure you keep yourself happy and healthy with these simple tips.
- Know the signs of depression. It can be hard to differentiate a simple slump from serious depression so learn the signs of depression not only for your own benefit but for the benefit of your friends as well.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help with their depression. Depression is a common and treatable problem that you don’t have to deal with alone. Tap into campus resources to find help or tell a friend how you’re feeling.
- Expect things to change. Things will change both at home and in your school life, so expect things to change over time. You will grow and so will the people around you.
- Understand that it may take time to fit in. Most people don’t make best friends on the first day of college. It takes time to build friendships, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t fit in right away.
- Don’t let stress get the best of you. Stress can be a major factor in many students’ depression. If you’re feeling stressed out make sure to take a break and set aside time to relax.