Students are busy with exam, papers, and maintaining an active social life that they often neglect their health. It is important to create a plan/routine that you can use throughout the semester to keep your health in check. Here are a few tips to help ensure you stay healthy and illness free throughout the school year.
- Eat breakfast – start your day off right with a good meal when you get up. Make sure to have some sort of protein in the morning (eggs, oatmeal, quinoa/chia pudding, protein smoothie) as it helps balance blood sugar and prevent cravings later in the day.
- Learn proper portion size – keep track of how much you’re eating. Avoid eating too much of even the healthiest food.
- Try your best to eat right – buy healthy foods and stock your fridge and room with them to ensure they’re the first things at hand when you get hungry. Remember to eat your fruits and veggies.
- Vary your meals – change up your diet from day to day. It is an important part of good nutrition. It is also preventative of allergies as eating the same food day after day can cause immune reaction against those foods.
- Keep healthy snacks around – consider nuts, seeds, dry fruit(eat these in moderation due to high sugar content), nut butters, fruits and veggies(apples, carrots, celery, etc)
- Remember to drink WATER – drinking enough water can help boost your concentration as well as keep you from overeating. Buy a reusable water bottle, fill it with water, and carry it throughout the day. You can add lemon slices, berries, or even cinnamon if you want to add a bit of flavor to your water.
- Don’t fight stress by eating – it can be tempting to reach for a bag of chips or some cookies when you’re stressed out about an impending exam. Eating won’t help your stress go away, so avoid filing up on snacks. See below for stress management tips.
- Limit sugary and caffeinated beverages – You don’t have to completely give up soda and coffee, but you should scale back in order to keep yourself in tip top shape as these can fatten you up and be detrimental to your health in the long run.
- Limit junk food – while a little fast food now and again won’t really hurt you, make sure it doesn’t become a habit.
- Don’t skip meals – with all those exams and papers, it’s easy to forgo eating. This is not healthy as it can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar and increase cravings throughout the day.
- Indulge occasionally – a little treat now and then is a great way to reward yourself for eating a healthy diet. Give yourself a break and indulge in a food you love but can’t eat all the time.
- Take vitamins – if you feel you aren’t getting the nutrition you need from your diet, don’t hesitate to supplement it with some multi-vitamins to stay healthy. (If you’d like information on which supplements to take, please contact me)
- Create a routine – get yourself in the habit of studying, working out, and sleeping at certain hours as it will be easier to fit in all things you need to do in a day without feeling too stressed.
- Put limits on work/study hours – you can’t work all the time. Relaxation and fun have to be part of your routine as well. Limit the times when you will work to give yourself time to sleep and rest up so you won’t get sick.
- Give yourself a break – Taking a break is important to avoid burnt-out taking even a ten-minute break can help you come back feeling more refreshed, stress-free, and with a clearer mind.
- Understand you can’t do everything – sooner or later you’re going to get run down by trying to do so much. Cut back if needed – drop a class, cut back on work or some extracurricular activities. Focus on doing the things you truly love and forget about the others.
- Ask for help – If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to a counselor, professor, friends, and family. Take advantage of campus meditation and yoga programs.
- Hobbies – this is a great way to help you destress. Pick up painting, play games with your friends, read, or start a project. Make time for the things you love is an important part of keeping yourself from getting too stressed out.
- Give yourself plenty of time – start big projects, papers, and studying earlier. You’ll be much less stressed out and will likely do better if you give yourself more time to work on it.
- Spend time with friends – there are a few things that can cheer you up like being around the people you like most. Eat dinner with friends or just hang out and watch tv or take a walk to get away from stress of homework.
- Learn time management skills – time management skills will make everything from getting assignments done to managing work a lot easier.
- Drink some tea – drink chamomile tea or Tulsi Tea
- Take a nap – if you have the time during the day, a short nap can do wonders for your energy levels. Make sure not to nap too close to bedtime or for too long.
- NEVER work in bed – Working in bed can make it harder to fall asleep. Keep your work space separate from your sleep space to keep insomnia at bay.
- Get a full night’s rest whenever possible – While the amount of sleep each person needs varies, most people need 7-9 hours to feel fully rested. While this may not be possible every night, try to sleep a full night whenever you get the chance.
- Stick to a schedule – With different classes and work hours each day, it can be hard to stick to a schedule, but keeping sleep times similar from day to day can greatly improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
- Lack of sleep can have a big impact – Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you cranky, it can also reduce your ability to concentrate and to excel at class, so try to get as much sleep as you need. Lack of sleep also imbalances your cortisol levels which can play a role in blood sugar dysregulation leading to diabetes.
- Work out bedtimes with roommates – When sharing a room with someone it can be hard to go to bed when you need to and not get woken up when you don’t want to. Try to work with your roomies to make sure you each get the sleep you need.
- AVOID all-nighters – Not getting enough sleep can impair your ability to do well, regardless of how much you’ve studied, so make sure you get at least a little sleep before your big test.
- Create a bedtime routine – If you have trouble falling asleep at night you can help yourself by creating a routine that will let your mind and body know that bedtime is approaching and that it should get into sleep mode. After a few weeks of practice this should help you fall asleep when you need to.
- Avoid caffeine, eating and drinking right before bed – these activities throw off your body’s internal clock, so try to limit meals, alcohol and caffeine consumption to a few hours before bed.
- Keep your room dark and quiet. While college campuses are hardly either, try to keep your room as dark, quiet and cool as possible. This will help trigger to your body that it’s time for bed and help you get and stay asleep.
- Create an herbal sleep sachet – place half-cup each of loose herbs in a small cloth bag – hops, chamomile flower, lavender, and lemon balm – place inside pillowcase at bedtime.
- Wash your hands – Studies have shown that simple hand washing can help prevent many illnesses.
- Wear flip flops in the shower – Always make sure to wear sandals in the shower to avoid getting viruses and bacteria that can cause warts and athlete’s foot.
- Avoid sharing beverages – Germs are easily spread through the sharing of drinks, alcoholic or otherwise, so get your own and avoid sharing with friends.
- When sick, DON’T go to class – don’t force yourself to go to class. It will only make you feel worse and infect other students. Email your professors that you’re ill and stay home and rest.
- Go to the doctor – If your symptoms aren’t clearing up within a few days, you may need to take a trip to the campus clinic or your doctor. Simple illnesses can mutate into much more deadly and dangerous ones if left alone so make sure to seek help if you aren’t feeling any better.
- Drink lots of fluids – Colds and flu can wreck havoc on your body, often depriving it of much needed fluids. Replenish these by drinking plenty of water or energy drinks when you’re ill.
- Supplement and remedies – Try out over the counter remedies to help ease your symptoms. Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, echinacea are just a few supplements you should have on hand.
- Wet Sock Treatment – when you feel like you are coming down with something, try the wet sock treatment (information and steps are found in my blog).
- Stretch – Simple stretches, not only before and after you exercise, can help keep you stay active and is also a way to destress. So take a five minute break and stretch!
- Ride your bike – Instead of taking the bus or driving to class, try biking instead. It will give you a few minutes of exercise between your courses.
- Take advantage of fitness courses and the gym – Along with gym facilities most students will have access to fitness classes they can take. Since you’re already paying for these through your tuition you may as well take advantage and get a workout that will help keep you in shape and motivate you.
- Walk to class – While taking public transportation might be quicker, walking will give you a chance to stretch your legs, burn some calories and relax before your next class.
- Incorporate different kinds of exercise in your routine – When you work out, don’t just stick to one kind of workout. Incorporate strength training, cardio and stretching exercises into your routine to make it well rounded.
- Make it fun – You’re probably not going to work out if you are bored with your routine or find going to the gym torture. Find a way to make it fun for yourself and you’ll be much more likely to keep it up.
- Bring a friend – With someone else relying on you showing up, you’ll be much more likely to make the effort to work out. Plus, working out with a friend can be a great way to make working out more fun.
- Take advantage of open spaces – Most colleges are equipped with large grassy quads or arboretums with trails you can walk on. Take advantage of these spaces to take hikes, play frisbee or just walk around.
- Don’t’ be afraid to ask for help – every campus has trained counselors to help you get through your mental health concerns and situations. Please reach out to them.
- Keep in touch with family and friends – You can help beat homesickness and loneliness by keeping in touch with friends and family members.
- Build new friendships – A big part of the college experience is meeting new people and forming new friendships so get out there and meet new people whenever possible.
- Expect things to change – Things will change both at home and in your school life, so expect things to change over time. You will grow and so will the people around you.
- Understand that it may take time to fit in –Most people don’t make best friends on the first day of college. It takes time to build friendships, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t fit in right away.
- Don’t let stress get the best of you – Stress can be a major factor in many students’ depression. If you’re feeling stressed out make sure to take a break and set aside time to relax.
- Realize you don’t have to please everyone – There is no way that you can make everyone happy all the time. Concentrate on making yourself happy first and you’ll cut out lots of stress and hassle from your life.
- Know the signs of depression – It can be hard to differentiate a simple slump from serious depression so learn the signs of depression not only for your own benefit but for the benefit of your friends as well.
- Build on your confidence – If you know you’re good at certain things build on the confidence you take from these activities rather than concentrating on your faults.
- Find strength in numbers – You may have an easier time feeling good and fitting in if you find a group of students who share similar interests and values as you.
- Volunteer – Sometimes volunteering can give you a sense of satisfaction you can’t get from work or class work, so get out there and help others in your community.
- Get involved on campus – Joining clubs and social groups on campus can help you to meet new friends and keep you from feeling lonely or isolated.
Set goals – You’ll be more motivated and positive if you give yourself goals to work towards throughout the school year