How to Stay Healthy in College: 5 Tips
Universities aren’t exactly known to be the cleanest places that promote healthy lifestyles. Developing health-conscious habits can be difficult with tight class schedules, and large campuses all but guarantee the existence of innumerable bacteria strains lurking on doorknobs and water fountains.
With so many students bringing their germs from across the nation (or even the planet) straight to your college dorm, it’s common for most attendees to find themselves sick after only the first couple of weeks of classes. Poor food selections don’t help, either.
Thankfully—like most experiences in life—there are ways to mitigate the health risks you might encounter while navigating campus life. Here are 5 of the best and most practical tips that will improve your chances of leading a happy and disease-free lifestyle at college this semester.
- Get Your Sleep!
The words “sleep” and “college” aren’t exactly synonymous. In fact, sleep is somewhat of an infamous topic amongst university students who are almost required to stay up late for homework or social outings during their stay.
However, sleep can be a priority at college with the proper planning. Making responsible choices that affect your sleep schedule (and maintaining that schedule) will give you the energy you need to stay productive in the long run, as well as provide a significant boost to your immune system.
Creating a routine and sticking to it is the key. This might require wrapping up your homework early or sacrificing late night fun with friends, but a good night of sleep will always be worthwhile when you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the next day’s challenges. Remember to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each day.
Have a schedule where you simply must stay up late or wake up early? You can still supplement your sleep time by incorporating naps during your downtime throughout the day. Even a brief 30-minute nap can do wonders for keeping your senses sharp and your body in good shape.
College entails a lot of sitting in classrooms for hours each day. What’s more, you might not be making the best nutritional decisions for your diet, paving a fast track to your freshman 15 (or sophomore…or junior…or senior).
Even though most students will perform a good deal of walking every day to reach classes, nothing will ever beat putting aside time for dedicated exercise. Working out or stretching has been demonstrated to improve nearly every aspect of your daily life, from bolstering physical health to reducing mental stress.
Don’t have the time in your busy college schedule to exercise? Even quick 15-minute sessions of exercise have been demonstrated to improve life expectancy and provide a host of other benefits when performed daily. No matter how crammed most students’ schedules are, there are likely at least a few times each day where they can spare 15 minutes.
Early in the morning and late at night (the “bookends” of your day when you have the most control of your schedule) can often be convenient times for a workout if you have trouble finding time during the day.
- Watch What You Eat
Sometimes a student’s food preferences are simply beyond their control while living on campus. Cafeterias are usually hit-or-miss in terms of nutrition, and since many students might not have cars (or income), buying healthy groceries might be out of the question.
Nevertheless, most college dining halls will still offer healthy alternatives to the burgers and fries most students crowd around every day. The biggest hurdle comes from having the discipline to choose the salad over the shake, especially when both are readily available to you each day.
It isn’t unusual for nutrition to take a back seat for most students during the college semester, but that doesn’t make it an ideal way to live for the long run. A poor diet will make sleeping more difficult, reduce your energy and motivation from day to day, make learning and studying more difficult, and give way to all kinds of health problems that could interfere with your campus activities.
Overeating can also be an issue for college students, especially when stress levels are high or the food is given in large amounts. Make an effort to dial back your eating when you feel full. If you have the time, tracking your calories and macros can also make a big difference if you’re concerned about putting on the pounds this semester.
- Manage Your Stress
Homework deadlines, class schedules, upcoming projects, extracurricular activities, social hangouts…attempting to juggle all of these aspects of college life can be daunting and, in most cases, very stressful.
Stress plays a big role in your time on campus. It directly affects your mood and wellbeing. Left unchecked, bottled-up stress can make you more susceptible to diseases, decrease your academic performance, and cause you to “burn out.”
Therefore, having a handle on your stress levels is vital to receiving an enjoyable experience at college, as it carries over to every corner of your life.
If you find yourself dealing with copious amounts of stress, try to proactively find ways to alleviate it. Make time to relax, either alone or with friends. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep and receiving enough vitamins and minerals from your food. Do activities you enjoy from time to time. Opt for counseling, or find someone to share your stressful concerns with.
If your schedule is simply structured to be too stressful to handle, it might be time to consider making bigger adjustments, such as dropping certain classes, reorganizing your daily commitments, or even taking a break from school to preserve your mental health.
- Stay Clean and Avoid Disease
College campuses tend to be rife with viruses and other pathogens that take advantage of your busy school life to hijack your health. With so many different hands touching all kinds of public surfaces around the university, it can be nigh impossible to get by without contracting at least a few illnesses before the semester is out.
One of the best ways to stay disease-free at college is to prevent the germs from entering your system altogether. This might mean staying in the dorm instead of going to that packed concert, keeping your hands away from others as much as can be managed, keeping your hands away from your face, and practicing good hygiene.
Hand washing is going to be your saving grace at college. Since most of your environmental interactions will end up on your hands (whether because you touched something or someone gave you a handshake), cleaning them frequently can discourage bacteria from getting into your system and stirring up trouble.
But as on-the-go as college life can be, a sink and hand soap aren’t available very often. In those cases, hand sanitizer will be the way to go. Muse Health’s own fragrance-free hand sanitizer makes for a great school companion and includes natural oils that keep your hands from drying out when you sanitize often.
If you’re a college student, make sure to stock up on sanitizer and try not to touch your face! Making smart decisions on campus can help you focus on your education and social life instead of staying miserably sick in your dorm room.