When you’re in college, health and wellness isn’t always a top priority. This is unfortunate because college students often have incredible and free access to both healthcare services and workout facilities. Why not make the most of your campus and take the time to set some healthy foundations going forward. College years are a time when striving for balance can be challenging. Your schedule is always changing, sometimes you’re slammed studying for finals while other times you’re coasting, and there are non-stop options for partying (and abusing your body).
Here are seven key health and wellness tips for college students that can carry you beyond commencement and well into your first job:
- Find a means of de-stressing that works for you. College is demanding, and every student needs an outlet for stress. However, what works for one student may not work for another. A popular option is yoga, but you’ll need to try a few styles and teachers before you find your groove. Make sure to optimize savasana, or corpse pose, where you’re given permission to just be and discouraged from running through tasks lists in your head.
- Learn how to say no. This is one of the best things you can do for your health, and for your well-being. There are so many things you already have to do, like study and do well in classes, why sign up for things you don’t enjoy and don’t have to do? This might mean saying no to joining a club, taking on a certain role, or going out with friends if your body is really screaming for a cushy night in. College is also a time to exercise firmly saying no to peer pressure, whether it’s a sexual advance or binge drinking.
- Create or choose a dedicated study space. Studies have shown that those who work from home benefit greatly from having a dedicated space just for work. This cues your brain that when you’re in this space, it’s time for study and homework. It also keeps you from trying to study or work around the clock. Avoid the temptation to do homework the same place you eat or relax. Otherwise, you’ll struggle with work-life balance.
- Swap more beverages for water. Americans are chronically dehydrated, and most people could do with more water intake. To get in the habit of reaching for water instead of coffee, soda, or something else, swap at least one beverage a day for water and see how you feel. If you’re hungry, try drinking eight ounces of water first and re-assessing. Our bodies often confuse hunger and thirst, and many times we’re actually dehydrated when we think we need a snack.
- Learn to read nutritional labels. It sounds so simple, but how often do you do it—and are you really understanding the importance? Take a moment to look at the ingredients list and see how many chemicals, preservatives, and unknown items you’re ingesting. Aim for consuming at least your body weight in grams of protein per day (more if you’re working on putting on muscle). Choose foods high in dietary fiber and low in simple sugars. Have a general idea of healthy caloric intake.
- Walk more. If you drive or take public transportation, challenge yourself to walk more. Maybe it’s to the nearby grocer instead of hopping in the car or all the way across campus instead of using a shuttle service. Set a timer and go for a walk around the block every half an hour as your study break. Simply moving increases awareness, focus, motivation, and staves off the mid-day slump.
- Surround yourself with people who inspire you. It can be a great idea to join a club or organization as a freshman to have an immediate circle of “friends,” but are they really supporting you? College is the time where you can make friends for life. Seek out people who get you, who inspire you, and who support you. Just because you have similar interests doesn’t mean you’re meant to be friends.
College is the beginning of adulthood and when habits, good or bad, are formed. What can you do to increase the good?