Friday, May 24, 2013

15 Tips for Keeping Yourself Healthy While In College

College is an experience unlike any other. For traditional students, it is the first time away from home and an opportunity to experience a new life, new friends, new surroundings, and a new set of obligations and increasing personal responsibilities. Non-traditional students, such as the many students in our Continuing Education and Distance Learning programs, simultaneously juggle the responsibilities of family, employment, and studies. In both scenarios, whether you attend courses on a campus or virtually, college can be stressful. 

Adaptation to any new environment can wreak havoc on the body, so remember to take care of yourselves. Focusing on your health while attending college is imperative. Poor health can severely affect your college experience. Here are 15 Everyday Health Tips for College Students, taken from Hive Health Media, to get you started:

  1. Eat breakfast. Choose a meal that includes whole grains, some protein, fruits or vegetables, and low-fat dairy products for a balanced meal.
  1. Drink water. Many people don’t drink enough fluids through the day and misinterpret signs of dehydration as hunger. Carry a water bottle with you and refill it as needed.
  1. Include fruits and vegetables in your diet regularly. These healthy foods are packed with vitamins and are a good source of fiber, so be sure to include a few servings in your diet every day.
  1. Don’t skip meals. It can be tempting to forget to eat when you are busy, but your body needs fuel if it is going to have enough energy to help you get through the day.
  1. Go to sleep at the same time each night. It can be challenging to try to get to bed at the same time each night, but if you can stick to a regular routine you will have a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
  1. Avoid all-night study sessions. While you may think cramming for an exam or working to finish a paper at the last-minute is the right thing to do, not getting enough sleep will have a major impact on your performance in the morning.
  1. Stop drinking coffee and caffeinated beverages well before bedtime if it tends to keep you awake at night. Switch to decaffeinated tea or have a glass of milk before bed to help you relax and get the rest you need.
  1. Take a nap. If you find yourself feeling listless during the day and you have some time in your schedule, take a short nap. It will help you to reset your internal energy clock and give you the boost you need.
  1. Wash your hands. Making a point of washing your hands after using the washroom, before eating, and after you have been around someone who has been ill can prevent illness.
  1. Wear flip flops in the shower. Even though shared facilities are cleaned regularly, it’s still possible to pick up bacteria and viruses that can cause athlete’s foot and warts.
  1. Go to the gym. Take advantage of on-campus recreational facilities. Here at Saint Leo, we offer a fully equipped fitness center, Olympic-size swimming pool, and other recreational facilities. Getting regular exercise is a great way to stay fit, make friends, and deal with stress.
  1. Sign up for a fitness class. Many schools offer on-campus fitness classes. The cost is already covered as part of your tuition, so you may as well take time out of your schedule to enjoy some regular physical activity.
  1. Create a schedule for yourself. Set aside time each day for sleep, study, writing papers, working out, meals, and breaks. It will be easier to manage college life if you have a plan for your day set out in advance.
  1. Plan to spend time with friends. It’s important to have some “down” time in your schedule so that you can have a meal together or just hang out. Make plans to go for a walk, see a movie, or watch television together. Everyone needs to do something other than focus on school for a time each day.
  1. Ask for help. If you feel overwhelmed while at college and a good night’s sleep and discussing the situation with a friend doesn’t help you to feel better, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. There are services available on campus to help. Make an appointment to see a doctor, nurse, counselor, or tell a trusted instructor about how you are feeling.
One of the most essential and rewarding things you can do for yourself as a college student is take care of yourself, and there are many resources on the Saint Leo Campus to help you keep on track. Many of these services are available to our off-campus and online communities as well. Just ask.

-Aimee Graham, Online Librarian-

--Edited by S. Hawes, 5.29.13

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