It can be difficult to stay healthy in college, but you can use these easy tips to boost your physical and mental health this semester! Changing small things about your diet and lifestyle can have strong benefits.
1. Drink more water
Hydration is one of the keys to a healthy lifestyle. Everyone knows that they’re supposed to drink more water, but few people actually follow through. In the midst of sugary, caffeinated beverages like soda, it’s all too easy to drink less water than you’re supposed to. However, proper hydration is vital to maintaining your metabolism. If you don’t think you’re drinking enough water, try carrying a reusable water bottle with you. Drinking water can also make you feel fuller, which is helpful when you have a long block of classes.
2. Limit your alcohol intake
It’s pretty normal to drink in college, but it’s always a good idea to be mindful of how much alcohol you’re consuming. Alcoholic drinks can be high in calories and sugar without providing any nutritional value. However, if you are old enough to drink, more and more alcoholic beverages are coming out that are relatively low in calories, such as hard seltzers. At the end of the day, if you do choose to drink, it’s important to drink in moderation!
3. Snack substitutions
Personally, I think snacking is an essential part of college. There are amazing snacks on the market, but not all of them are that great for your body. But, believe it or not, there are some delicious and healthy snack options available in stores! If you like buttery popcorn, for instance, try reaching for a bag of Skinny Pop, which is a much healthier alternative. Likewise, if you’re a fan of potato chips, try looking for a bag of Popcorners, a super light and delicious type of chip! By making these simple substitutions, you’re improving your diet bit by bit, which will help you stay healthy.
4. Make sure you’re getting enough protein, fruits, and veggies
Having a balanced diet is essential in order to stay healthy. It’s important to have a diet full of protein, fruits, vegetables, and other vital nutrients. When you have a full day of classes, it’s easier than you might think to reach for granola bars… again and again. When you’re in a rush, foods like granola bars, protein bars, and snack bags might seem like the best route, but it’s also important to eat a full and balanced meal when you can. Your body needs its nutrients!
5. Make sure you’re eating regularly
Especially during exams, it can be difficult to remember to eat three full meals. When you’re hiding away in the library on a study binge, it’s important to remember to take a break and get something to eat. Nourishing your body consistently is important in order to stay healthy. Try to eat three meals per day, and don’t be afraid to have snacks in between!
6. Try cooking meals at home
This isn’t a possibility for everyone, but if you have access to a kitchen, cooking your own meals is a great way to stay healthy and save money. You may not always have the time to cook, and that’s completely understandable, but when you do have the time, cooking can be a very fun and stress-relieving activity. It’s easier to learn to cook than you might think! When you cook your own meals, you’re aware of the ingredients you’re using, which isn’t always the case when eating at your college’s dining hall.
7. Manage stress levels
Believe it or not, managing your stress levels is an important part of staying physically (and mentally) healthy. When you’re overly stressed, your physical health can suffer. High stress negatively impacts your sleep, appetite, and mood, which can in turn can worsen your physical health. Additionally, the energy that your body uses to maintain your high stress levels can actually make you feel hungrier than you actually are. Everyone has different methods for managing stress, so it’s important to find out what works for you in order to stay healthy!
Yoga is a great way to stay healthy physically and mentally. Yoga is a fantastic type of exercise, because it improves your joint strength, flexibility, and mental concentration. If you need to wind down, try finding a yoga class on your campus. It’s a lot of fun to practice yoga with other people, and yoga instructors are often very good at creating a relaxing atmosphere. However, you can also practice at home, if that’s what you prefer. There are several yoga instructors who publish their videos online, and you can easily find something that suits your individual needs.
Just like yoga, meditation is great for your physical and mental health. Meditation is effective at reducing stress levels, which consequently benefits your physical health. You might find the idea of meditation to be boring, or even difficult, but as you practice meditation more and more, it gets easier, more enjoyable, and more fulfilling. There are several guided meditations online to get you started. Devoting just five minutes per day to meditation is a great way to kick off your practice!
10. Exercise for stress reduction
Of course, this list would not be complete without exercise. The physical benefits of exercise are obvious, but exercising is also great for your mental health. Exercise is fantastic for stress reduction, because it’s a healthy way to cope with your mental tension — your brain treats exercise as a release for any stress you may be feeling. If you want to make your workouts more enjoyable, try exercising with a friend, or find a class on campus! Typically, there are all sorts of exercise classes available, so it’s definitely worth it to try out different types of workouts.
11. Shoot for a healthy sleep schedule
It’s vital to get enough sleep in college. Say no to all-nighters and yes to a full eight hours. It can be tempting to stay up late and party, study, or binge-watch Netflix, but developing a healthy sleep schedule will benefit you greatly. Getting enough sleep helps with stress levels, memory consolidation, and your mood. Additionally, getting enough sleep helps keep off excess weight. When we’re tired, we tend to reach for sugary foods with the hope that they’ll provide energy. You’re also less likely to exercise when you’re tired. Perhaps most importantly, sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your metabolism.
12. Give yourself a break
It’s important to remember that you aren’t always going to be perfect, and that’s totally fine. Perfection is boring. A lot of the time, college students put a ridiculous amount of stress on themselves. They might feel the need to be at the top of their classes, have a long list of extracurriculars, have a prestigious internship, have a dynamic social life, or have a body that looks a certain way. College is a difficult time for everyone, so try not to stress over small mistakes. If you feel like eating an entire pizza and watching Netflix all night, you’re not a bad person. If you’ve missed a few workout sessions, nothing bad is going to happen. If you went binge drinking the other night, you’re not the epitome of poor health.
It’s important to do your best to stay healthy, but you’re still allowed to enjoy yourself! Just remember that most things are fine in moderation. The only thing that really matters is that you’re comfortable with the choices you’re making. The most effective way to stay healthy is to figure out what health means for you.