As a college student, it’s easy to overlook your physical health and wellbeing when you’re busy concentrating on getting to your classes, studying for exams, finishing homework, and maintaining a social life.
However, developing healthy habits now will make it easier to stay healthy throughout the rest of your life — not to mention avoid the pitfalls of preventable illnesses.
Here are five tips to keep yourself healthy while enrolled in college:
Get Plenty of Sleep
Living on a few hours of sleep and pulling an all nighter or two are practically rites of passage in college. But failing to get enough shuteye (no matter how good the reason) can lead to sleep deprivation and some serious health consequences, such as memory issues, weight gain, and a decreased immune system. Here’s how you can avoid these health woes by getting enough sleep:
- Get moderate exercise during the day.
- Limit caffeine intake during the day and avoid it in the evening altogether.
- Stop studying or doing homework at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid screen time (yes, even your phone) for at least an hour before bedtime.
- Don’t study or work on your computer in bed — your bed should be used for relaxation purposes only.
- Create a sleep schedule, and stick to it. This means getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends or days when you have late class.
- Sleep with earplugs and an eye pillow to drown out the light and the noise of loud roommates. If you’re worried about waking up in time, invest in a vibrating alarm clock.
Make Healthy Eating Choices Whenever Possible
It can be challenging to eat healthy when you’re almost always in a rush and don’t have a full kitchen at your disposal. However, there are a few easy ways to make healthy eating choices even when situations aren’t ideal.
Stock your dorm and backpack with healthy foods that have a long shelf life, such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, rice cakes, multi-grain crackers, hiqh quality granola bars, apples, and citrus fruits. For breakfast, eat some oatmeal or eggs — or fruit and nuts if you’re in a hurry — to fuel your body for the next few hours. Soup and salad or a hearty wrap for lunch will fill you up and keep you humming through the afternoon. Finally, for dinner (your biggest meal of the day), go for a decent serving of protein with a side of veggies.
The responsibilities of college life can make it exceedingly difficult to take time out your schedule for a trip to the gym. However, if you make it part of your routine, you’re bound to have success. Check out your school’s fitness center for a list of free classes, basketball, tennis, track, and more.
If you simply don’t have enough time in your day to get to the fitness center, try fitting exercise into your schedule by walking or riding a bike everywhere you need to go. Using your phone or a fitbit, you can keep track of the miles you walk between classes each week. When it comes to walking, the important thing to remember is to raise your heart rate. Walking briskly or climbing stairs can help achieve this goal.
Take Care of Your Eyes
College students spend a lot of time reading or staring at a computer screen or mobile device. This can cause serious eye strain and fatigue if not remedied. To break the cycle of digital eye strain to help keep your vision strong, take advantage of the 20-20-20 rule. When working with a computer, tablet, or phone, take a break every 20 minutes and focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away. Keep this up for at least 20 seconds. This practice will help reset your vision and prevent eye fatigue.
Be sure to incorporate a yearly eye exam into your beginning of the semester routine. Like a wellness exam, a comprehensive eye exam every year not only supports the overall health of your eyes, it aids your doctor in identifying any symptoms of eye diseases that may be slowly developing without your knowledge.
Get Regular Checkups
Part of the transition into college life is taking responsibility for your health care. In many ways, college health care feels much like a visit to the family doctor; however, most campuses offer a broader range of health services than you may be accustomed to, such as:
- Counseling for mental health needs and medications
- Assisting with eating disorders and chronic health issues
- Coordinating access plans for students with learning disorders or physical disabilities
- Campus safety practices and awareness (including active shooter drills)
- Campaigns against, as well as training and awareness of, sexual assault and discrimination
- Assistance with alcohol and drug abuse
- Suicide prevention
- STD prevention, testing, and treatment
As you make the change from adolescent patients to independent health consumer, you’ll need to ensure you’re receiving an annual wellness exam. Wellness checkups are extremely important as they help you keep track of your overall health, avoid preventable health problems, and ensure that serious illnesses/diseases are caught and treated early.
Though college life is both busy and stressful, it’s no excuse not to take care of your health. By eating well, getting enough sleep, staying active, and taking charge of your physical and mental wellbeing, you can get a head start on a long and healthy life.
Image Credit: Pixabay
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