If you are about to start college this fall, there’s just one thing you need to know – the freshman 15 is very real. You might not intend for it to happen, but all of a sudden you’re first year is over, it’s summertime, and you go to put on that bikini from last year and it doesn’t fit. That’s when you realize you’ve fallen victim to the freshman 15. However, staying healthy in college is not just physical. College can be very hard on your mental health, too. Especially your first year. Try not to worry too much, though. There are a few ways to maintain your health even surrounded by negative factors:
1. Buy Groceries
When I say buy groceries, I don’t mean chips, oreos, ice cream, and ramen. That should never be all you have in your room when it’s midnight and you’re watching Netflix. By groceries, I mean granola bars, oatmeal, fruit, and things like that. Granola bars are great to throw in your bag to have as a snack on those busy days. Oatmeal is perfect to have if you have a little extra time in the morning to make a quick and healthy breakfast instead of hitting up the dining hall. And fruit and popcorn are great snacks to have to satisfy those late night cravings.
2. Drink Water
This may sound obvious, but you’ll be thankful for the reminder when it’s your first finals week and you’ve suddenly been in the library for eight hours sipping on your sixth coffee of the day. Carry around a reusable water bottle so that you can fill it up throughout the day and down a bottle in between coffees. Trust me, your body will thank you.
3. Try A Different Coffee Order
Coffee is amazing and it is what gets every college student through college. But, when you’re drinking three to six coffees a day, it gets very unhealthy very quickly – especially if those coffees are loaded with sugar. If you absolutely need your coffee with sugar, I understand. But, just hear me out a second. Every so often, maybe once a day, swap out your normal coffee order for a different one. Perhaps something like an almond or coconut milk if you normally use regular milk or cream, and a sugar free syrup to add flavor without the extra sugar and calories, or simply just put less sugar in your coffee than you normally would. You might be surprised at the difference it makes.
It’s a sad reality, but everyone does need to exercise to truly stay healthy. This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to spend money you don’t have on a gym membership. If your school doesn’t have a gym on campus for students to use, exercise in your room. Pinterest is a great place to go to look for awesome home or dorm room workouts. Exercise is also one of the best ways to maintain your health mentally (by giving you endorphins!).
5. Go For A Walk
This can either be part of your exercise or just part of your mental health routine. After being in a small, stuffy dorm room for a while with other people, you start to go a little stir crazy. Get out and go for a walk around your campus. It will clear your mind. Fresh air really will do you good.
6. Write In A Journal
Whether you’ve had an argument with your roommate or even if you’ve had a really great day, writing your thoughts down in a journal is a very effective way of taking care of your mental health. As someone who struggled mentally their first year of college, once I started a journal I was amazed at how much better I felt. It really works wonders.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Switch Roommates
One of the key ways to maintain your health is to avoid unhealthy situations. If you and your roommate don’t get along, don’t be afraid to switch. Trust me, I dealt with the roommate from hell my first year and it didn’t do anything to help my mental state. If anything, it just made it worse. Don’t suffer unnecessarily. Simply switch roommates if you don’t get along with yours. You’ll be glad you did.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Drop A Class
College classes are going to be way harder than high school, and when you have several of them a week, it gets overwhelming. If one class in particular is just too hard and is too much to handle, drop it. It’s not worth the extra stress. There’s bound to be something else you can take in its place or at a later date that won’t take such a toll on you.
9. Don’t Be Afraid To Switch Professors
Professors are also very different from high school teachers. Some barely speak English–so you’re trying to learn entirely new material from someone who can barely even explain it–and some are just downright mean. Whatever the case, it’s not worth the added stress. If you have a bad professor, just switch.
10. Take Trips Home If/When You Can
If you go to school not too far away from home, take a trip home once a month or whenever you can. It’ll be a nice getaway for a few days and will do wonders for your mental health.
11. Get Enough Sleep
I know every college student has their moments of staying up until 3am studying and/or watching Netflix and then have to get up for their 8am. I’m telling you, don’t do it. Sleep is extremely important for the body and plays a key role in staying healthy. Simply not getting enough sleep alone can lead to weight gain. So make sure you are getting at least eight hours of sleep a night, or at least most nights.
12. Get A Flu Shot
When flu season rolls around, protecting yourself from infection is one of the most vital ways to maintain your health. Getting the flu, or any kind of illness for that matter, is the last thing you need. Have you ever tried staying up all night studying while also hacking a lung out? I don’t recommend it. So go get vaccinated.
13. Wash Your Hands
This may sound like the most obvious one yet, but it really is important. As said above, getting sick is the last thing you need, so do everything you can to protect yourself.
14. Don’t Smoke
I know a lot of college students do this, but it’s really important not to. Not just for your present self, but for your future self. Just don’t do it. This doesn’t just apply to college students either; not smoking is one of the biggest ways to maintain your health in general.
Straight up, college is stressful. So it’s important to take a little time each day to unwind. Whether that’s going for a walk or relaxing in bed at the end of the night watching Netflix with some ice cream. No matter how you choose to relax, just make sure you do it.