In order for students to confront the immense demands of college, it is essential that they actively focus on maintaining their overall health. After all, the breakdown of student health poses a significant threat to future academic success. But unfortunately, both the stresses and the joys of college contribute to the development of unhealthy behavioral patterns. Below are some helpful ways for college students to stay healthy, despite the many harmful pitfalls of college living:
Get Regular Check-Ups
For quite possibly the first time, college students are in charge of your own health. Their parents are no longer around to schedule them a doctor’s appointment every time they’re feeling ill. However, students need to make time in their busy schedule for regular check-ups; this active approach to their health can help ensure that they remain healthy throughout the arduous school year. Most colleges have healthcare facilities on campus, or you can locate another health clinic nearby. Students should promptly get treatment for any health concerns, as a doctor can help identify and treat any emerging issues. Also they are certain to get all the necessary vaccinations before starting the school year. Take in consideration that many colleges offer flu shots at a discounted rate.
Avoid Sleep Deprivation
Quite understandably, college students tend to put sleep low on their list of priorities. But unfortunately, sleep deprivation can cause reduced brain function, an inability to concentrate, fatigue, and headaches. If sleep deprivation becomes a regular occurrence, it can even cause obesity, depression, illness, and perhaps most importantly, poor grades. In order to avoid sleep deprivation, avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, and reduce distractions to sleep such as bright lights, noises, and technology. Also try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. At the very least, take regular powernaps in order to stay sufficiently rested.
Engage in Physical Activity
Find a physical activity you enjoy, whether it be jogging, dancing, intramural activities, or sports. Just keep in mind that a quality physical activity should raise your breathing and heart rates, as well as strengthen your muscles. Take full advantage of walking and biking opportunities around campus, and discover all that the student recreational center has to offer. For those students who are more “indoorsy,” try motion sensor gaming, including Wii Fit and EA Sports Active. Additionally, find friends who also want to stay active, as teaming up is a great way to stay motivated.
Now that these college students are living in the fast-paced college environment, they are more consistently turning to things like fast food, chips, and sodas? Instead, they should have three full meals and two small snacks every day. And when enjoying these regularly scheduled meals, opt for salads, vegetables, fruits, and whole grain foods. In fact, fruits and vegetables can help them stay alert and focused throughout the long school day, as they are natural sources of energy. Also select low-fat options such as grilled or baked fish, poultry, and lean meats. Moreover, keep the dorm stocked with granola bars, pretzels, rice cakes, and dry cereal, and the refrigerator should contain crunchy vegetables, low-fat dips, yogurts, and fresh fruit. Maintaining a healthy diet by eating healthy can help boost a person’s immune system and help the students maintain a healthy weight. Instead of sodas, coffee, and energy drinks, make a habit of carrying a water bottle around campus.
The benefits of water cannot be overstated, and staying hydrated can help concentration, can replenish the body, and can increase energy. Caffeinated beverages may seem like they are assisting with the late-night study sessions, but realistically, they make the body crash and feel sick after their initial energy boost has passed. Additionally, college students should never skip breakfast, as studies show that people who regularly eat breakfast have a significantly higher metabolism than those who regularly skip it. And the same goes for lunch! Even if students have classes scheduled all day, they can still pack a healthy lunch and store it in your book bag. Skipping meals only hurts them nutritionally. Also avoid eating after 9 p.m. because during sleep, the body’s metabolism slows down, forcing these foods to be stored in the body as fat.
Maintain Your Mental Health
College life comes equipped with many challenges that can leave anybody mentally weakened. College students frequently suffer from anxiety and other stressors. However, a certain level of anxiety is healthy, as it helps to motivate them. And everybody feels anxious or gets stressed sometimes, but when the student cannot shake it and begins to interfere with their life, then there may be a more serious problem. Long-term stress can take a serious toll on the student’s physical and mental health. If negative feelings are infiltrating every aspect of their lives, then the student may be suffering from depression.
However, there are ways to begin to combat this debilitating condition. The student should try to develop a strong support network of friends around campus, and seek advice from teachers and counselors. Secondly, they need to stay physically active, as regular activity improves mood. Trying to take short personal breaks that involve healthy activities, as exercise is an ideal way to decrease the overall stress levels. At the very least, go for a walk! Also find out if the campus offers a stress management course, or enroll in a yoga class at the campus recreational center. Although it is easier said than done, it is essential that they learn how to relax. After all, relaxation is imperative in order to maintain a healthy body and mind.
Do Not Abuse Drugs and Alcohol
Away from parental supervision for quite possibly the very first time, and faced with the challenges inherent in meeting new people, many college students begin to participate in regular alcohol and drug use. Alcohol, when drank in a large quantity, can lead to addiction or alcohol poisoning. Additionally, pervasive alcohol use is associated with dangerous behavior and poor decision-making. Abuse of illegal drugs and prescription medications is also a big problem on college campuses. For students dealing with alcoholism or drug abuse, locate the programs on campus that are there to help you. They are safe havens, and should provide the student with some valuable help. And there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people or to chill with friends without being surrounded by drugs and alcohol, including collegiate athletics, dorm-organized events, and club-oriented activities.
Protect Your Eyes
Quite possibly the last thing students worry about when cramming for exams is the health of their vision. However, students’ eyes sustain a lot of damage due to these academic pressures. Lack of sleep, prolonged computer use, and long hours of studying make for tired, dry, and achy eyes. Eyes are not designed for prolonged focus on a single object such as a computer or textbook, although this practice is entirely necessary for the successful college student. And as a result, they are apt to blink less frequently, which significantly reduces lubrication in the eye, thereby making it feel tired and dry. Remember to give the eyes an occasional break, and remember to turn away from the computer, and instead focus on something in the distance.
Utilize Regular Massage
Massage therapy is a great way to relax and reduce stress, as well as maintain physical health. Massage therapy actually decreases the amount of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. Massage also improves the conditioning of muscles. However, regular massage therapy appointments may be too pricey for a college student’s budget. Thankfully, there other means to obtaining a relaxing massage. Students can try to find a therapist who offers 10-minute chair massages, as these usually cost roughly a dollar per minute. Another idea is to visit a local massage therapy school and sign up for the student massage therapy program. These programs help more advanced students get the massage therapy experience they need. Look for deals for massages on discount websites. Students can also try calling around to different massage businesses to find out if they offer first-time client discounts. Finally, if a student and a friend can both learn massage techniques to perform on each other! But if hands-on training is what the student wants, many massage therapy businesses offer massage therapy classes and workshops for a nominal fee.