Protecting Your Health and Wellness in College

Going to college has become the default path for recent high school graduates. Unfortunately, many incoming college students lack the life experience needed to adequately prepare themselves for the task at hand.

In addition to making it to class on time, preparing for exams, and navigating the nauseating maze of financial assistance, college students are responsible for their health and wellness. The following are ten tips for doing so without losing sight of the bigger picture:

Take the stairs as often as possible

Chances are you’ll be walking across campus to get from one class to another. While that provides a terrific form of casual exercise, college students are encouraged to go the extra mile and skip the elevator. You’ve walked this far, why stand around and wait for a cramped lift to the fifth floor? Haul up those stairs and put your heart to work in the process. You might be winded at first, but within a few weeks, you’ll be running up flights without so much as a drop of sweat to show for it.

Practice safe sex at all times

As the saying goes, “There’s a time and a place, and it’s called college.” While nobody should ever feel pressured into sexually exploring and experimenting, neither should they feel guilty for taking the opportunity to do so while attending university. With that said, it’s essential to do so safely. Use condoms, consider trying other contraceptives too and undergo regular STI screenings to make sure you’re not unknowingly exposing others to sexually transmitted diseases. Above all, go at your own pace and never do anything that makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable.

Limit alcohol consumption

Alcohol-fueled fun is a fact of life on college campuses across the world. If you choose to drink, it’s imperative to do so responsibly. Never drink and drive. That includes operating any form of moving vehicle, including scooters and bicycles. What’s more, make a habit of having a trusted friend with you when drinking in an unfamiliar setting. Lastly, avoid drinking on school nights. It might sound like overcautious child’s play, but doing so will keep your grades from slipping.

Limit drug use

There’s no dressing up the fact that recreational drug use is against the law. But if you’re going to do drugs in college, approach it the same way you do sex and alcohol. Avoid mindlessly consuming something an unfamiliar person handed you. Stick to relatively harmless substances like cannabis and psilocybin. Steer clear of opiates and highly addictive stimulants, like cocaine and methamphetamine.

Make quality sleep an essential goal

For many college students, a regular sleep schedule goes out the window. Between full-time classes, all-night studying, and picking up part-time hours for extra income, who has the time? Unfortunately, lack of quality sleep has an adverse effect on academic performance. Despite the seemingly sensible notion that sleep can wait if you’re hard at work, sleep is essential for getting the job done right. Make a point to get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night of the week.

Skip the vending machine

It’s 3:30 in the afternoon, you’re two hours deep into a four-hour class, your professor just announced a 15-minute break, and you’re starving. What do you do? Most folks would admit their first move is to the vending machine for some energy. The problem is the sorts of foods and drinks you find in vending machines are high in salt and fat minus vitamins and nutrients. Make a habit of bringing healthy snacks to class and eating those during breaks. An apple and bottle of water are a lot healthier than a bag of chips and a bottle of soda.

Take advantage of campus resources

Is there a fitness center on campus? If so, you’re paying for access to it via tuition. With this in mind, make a point to put that access to good use. Go for a run on the treadmill, take a virtual ride on a stationary bike, or lift some weights. It’s a great way to stay in shape as well as alleviate stress.

Avoid eating while studying

Eating dinner and looking over your notes seem to be made for each other. However, doing so makes it more likely to overeat. That’s because your mind is so preoccupied with studying you don’t notice you’re full and eating more than usual. Keep eating and studying separated.

Self-evaluate your stress levels

Don’t count on your friends or professors to intervene before stress gets the best of you. They will if they notice the signs, but the responsibility falls on your shoulders. Be mindful of the symptoms of stress and notice when they’re taking shape. If you need a day to unwind, email your professors ahead of time to work out a make-up work plan going forward. It’s better than burnout.

Don’t hesitate to reach out

Lastly, don’t make the mistake of thinking nobody else cares about your health and wellness. Whether it’s your best friend, mom or dad, professor, or advisor, numerous people will be happy to help you figure things out. Doing so can help you steer clear of overwhelming anxiety and the poor health decisions that follow.

With so many people going to college these days, it’s a good idea to consider the importance of health and wellness for those on their way to earning a degree. A broader range of knowledge and expertise won’t mean much without good health and a positive mental attitude.

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