Staying healthy in college

Kyle Lawton

College is an introduction to many changes in a persons life. For the first time you’re truly on your own making your own decision, which can lead to multiple outcomes. Your not told how late your allowed to stay out, you can go to bed whenever you chose, you can chose when to not go to class, you can eat however you want and the list goes on and on. This can be a struggle for many young adults especially freshman who are so new to the whole experience. Many college students, including myself, tend to start out on the wrong track. When your given all of these choices your still stuck in a high school state of mind where you just want to eat junk food all the time and sleep at random hours of the day or skip class. Because of this it’s very hard to stay healthy and this can not only affect your physical health but your mental health as well. Starting to gain weight, failing classes and always being tired can take a huge tole on your mental stability but luckily there are some ways to make sure your getting the most out of college and staying healthy.

For starters the easiest way to stay healthy is by eating healthy. That’s not always as easy as it sounds. Your not given a healthy home cooked meal every night anymore and your allowed to eat whatever you want. The cafeteria is filled with unhealthy fatty foods but you need to be able to balance it out. Try eating some fruits and vegetables and having a glass of water rather than a soda. You don’t need to go on a strict diet unless you have a big goal set for yourself and you can treat yourself to junk food every now and then, but you should always try to balance it out with something healthy. Staying away from greasy foods is the best way to do this and you should always try to have at least some fruits or vegetables with whatever you eat. Me personally I used to just eat whatever my twelve year old mind wanted until I realized how disgusting and gross I would feel afterwards. Because of this I started drinking water instead of soda and having some carrots and broccoli and an apple or banana with every meal. This changed a lot of things. I started feeling much better not just physically but mentally as well. The caf has a variety of healthy foods but it’s up to you to make the change and started eating them. While you want to be eating right, getting some form of exercise is also one of the best ways to stay healthy but it’s also the hardest. It’s hard to have time to exercise when class and homework take up most of your day, and when you do get a break from that the last thing you want to do is spend your free time exercising. Its up to you to decide if you want to start exercising because it really depends on how comfortable and confident you are with your body. If you think you need a change most colleges offer a free gym membership to students on campus and it’s a great thing to take advantage of. Even if you are comfortable with yourself you should always try to do some form of exercise. This doesn’t always involve going to a gym. Walking to class is a great way to get some form of exercise and even though it’s annoying, walking up the steps to a class you have on the third or fourth floor rather than taking the elevator is great exercise. It’s really up to you to decide if you want to work out or not, but going outside getting some fresh air and walking rather than driving is always a much healthier alternative.

Other than physical health, staying organized and scheduling your time is always a way to stay mentally healthy. Try scheduling your sleeping hours. Studies show that getting anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep a night can improve your overall health greatly. If your up late studying and have an early class try to schedule a time to take a nap sometime throughout the day. Don’t make going out and partying with friends every night a habit and avoid drinking caffeine and eating sugary foods at night. Not getting enough sleep at night can lead to reduced brain function, fatigue, headaches and weight loss or gain, adding more stress to an already stressful college life. As far as how you spend your days, make sure you have it scheduled out so that you don’t forget anything. Being a full time college student puts a lot on your plate especially if your in a sport or curricular activity. Make sure before you go to bed you make note of everything you need to get done tomorrow. This will keep your mental state in check knowing that your doing everything you need to do. Another important step is to avoid smoking. Smoking is a nasty habit that’s hard to lose and even though it’s an effective way to lose stress that’s not always be a good thing. Not only is it proven that smoking is horrible for your body and its known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema, smoking can also take your mind off a lot of things that you need to accomplish. It’s so easy to just drop everything and lose all your stress but if you lose too much stress it can hold you back from doing what you need to do which you’ll regret in the long run. Student health centers usually have effective ways to get people to stop smoking. On the topic of losing stress and interest, you need to know why you’re here in order to keep yourself going and to keep your brain healthy by trying to achieve something, you need to know why your in college. A lot of people just come to college because they don’t want to be stuck working minimum wage jobs their entire life. You need to figure out why you’re here and what you want to do. Try to picture what you would love to be doing five or ten years from now and spend your time in college trying to achieve that. If it takes one or ten major changes that’s ok as long as you know your making the right decision it will keep you happy which is one of the biggest ways to stay healthy.

Through all of the things you need to do to stay healthy and have a good college experience, the most important step in staying healthy is relaxation. You need to find time for yourself. Take some time off to just do whatever you want during your free time. Play an instrument, read a book, play video games, write, paint, draw just find what makes you happy and take some time every now and then to just sit down and do that for a few hours. It will keep you sane through all of the stress and pressure you will have throughout college. Getting too stressed will eventually wear you out and it will most likely cause you to give up and stop caring. If you have something you can do to relax during your free hours take that opportunity to just do you and forget about everything for a little while. It’s the most effective way to stay mentally healthy and to keep you from losing your mind. There’s a lot of things you can do to stay healthy but these are just a few ways you can assure yourself with to stay in shape physically and mentally. College is a tough but also fun and life changing experience. It’s a time where you find yourself and take on big step closer to becoming the man or woman you always wanted to be. By taking this advice to heart it will get you one step closer to achieving your goals but ultimately it’s up to you how you want to spend your time, these are just a few ways to make things easier on yourself in an already stressful environment.