Last Updated: May 26, 2020
College is a time for self-discovery, learning new things, and pursuing new passions. While the typical college lifestyle isn't always conducive to maintaining healthy habits, these tips can help steer any busy college student in the right direction.
1. Make room for superfoods
What do frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, processed cheese, and instant ramen noodles have in common? Many college students consider these the four main food groups. Although they might taste great, these foods are filled with saturated fat, sodium, and refined carbs with very little nutritional value. Choosing only unhealthy foods can zap your energy and weaken your immune system.
Incorporate some superfoods into your diet to help counteract some of the damage. They are the perfect companion for busy college students because they pack a powerful punch of vital nutrients that are beneficial to physical and mental well-being. Walnuts, kale, salmon, berries, beans, and whole grains are just a few superfoods that provide your body with energy and help keep you healthy. Try to include a daily dose of one type of superfood (or more!) and your body will thank you as you push to perform during the school year.
2. Drink plenty of water
Juggling homework, friendships, class schedules, and part-time jobs makes drinking enough water low on the priority list of many overloaded college students. We know water has vast health benefits that affect every cell in our bodies. Try these strategies for staying adequately hydrated throughout the day: make a habit of toting a water bottle with you to class, sip on water during meals, and snack on water-rich foods (like cucumber, zucchini, watermelon, and grapefruit).
How can you keep track of your water intake throughout the day? There's an app for that! Waterlogged and Hydro Coach are two examples of popular (and free) apps that make getting your daily dose of H20 fun and easy.
3. Find time for yourself
The high-energy environment of college can make it difficult to find much-needed alone time to decompress, unwind, and reflect on your life experiences. From sharing close quarters with roommates to spending days studying with classmates, you won’t get many moments to yourself. Despite enjoying many laughs and new adventures, you may also feel depleted of energy and downright stressed.
Try to find time for yourself every day to rest and recharge. Go to a quiet space and process and reflect upon the day. Taking a time-out also builds confidence—it can give you a sense of independence and help you discover where your interests and passions may lie.
Related: 5 Ways to Find Alone Time in College
4. Get a full night's sleep
With the balancing act of juggling classes, homework, social obligations, and study groups, what student has time for sleep? The "I'll sleep when I'm dead" philosophy doesn't come without consequences, and college students are notoriously one of the most sleep-deprived groups. Sleep deprivation can lead to a decreased ability to concentrate, impaired memory, and a diminished ability to learn new information.
Incorporate various strategies to get enough rest. Try to limit caffeine after 3:00 pm, practice time management with respect to schoolwork, and minimize sleep disruptions.
Of course, late nights coupled with those pesky 8:00 am classes can sometimes make getting a full night of sleep out of reach. Here's where napping may be the answer to your sleepy prayers. When running on empty, a power nap might be just what you need to rejuvenate your mind and body. But beware: sleeping longer than 30 minutes can backfire on you by increasing your fatigue and making it more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime.
5. Take care of your skin
Long showers and the dry heat of the dorms can do a number on your skin. Maintaining a proper skin care routine can help you achieve a healthy glow and keep common skin issues at bay. Cleansing and moisturizing are the essential first steps in any effective skin care routine. Be sure to use sunscreen every day to protect your skin from sun damage. Always remove makeup before going to bed. And don’t forget that water bottle—proper hydration is key to healthy-looking skin.
Simply put, your body was meant to move. Despite having a full plate of responsibilities, make it a top priority to get some form of exercise on a daily basis. The benefits of physical activity are immediate and long term and include increased focus and attention, improved mood, and decreased stress.
Exercise doesn't have to take up a huge portion of your already-busy day, or even take place in a gym or studio. Take a daily walk, dance to your favorite tunes, utilize one of the many fitness apps out there, or take a physical education class for credit.
7. Eat regular meals
Packed schedules, tight budgets, and lack of cooking facilities and tools create the perfect storm for skipping meals. But eating three meals a day (with healthy ingredients) is important for fueling your body so it can be at its best.
8. Keep a journal
How does journaling help our minds and in turn our bodies? When we give ourselves the freedom to write down our life experiences, mental blocks are often removed, which fosters a better understanding of oneself, relationships with friends and family, and the world around you. Journaling allows you to clarify your thoughts and feelings and in turn enhances your problem-solving skills all while helping relieve stress.
9. Find healthy ways to de-stress
Eating copious amounts of junk food, partying all night, and overspending on frivolous items may be ways to de-stress in college, but they are certainly not the healthiest. Being in a constant state of stress takes its toll on you emotionally and physically, which makes finding healthy ways to de-stress that much more important. Watch your favorite movie, take a walk, or find a new hobby to decompress.
10. Reach out to a friend or loved one
It's ironic that you can be around people constantly and still feel completely isolated. Your college community may take some time to feel like home. While the transition from home to college is an exciting one, it doesn't come without some yearning for real friends and family that know you on a deeper level.
Having reliable and genuine friendships is imperative to your well-being and can ward off feelings of loneliness. Reach out to a friend or family member on a daily basis to help diminish the natural feelings of homesickness and make for a smoother transition to college life.
Maintaining your health in college requires a holistic approach that addresses your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. With these simple tips, you can stay healthy and maintain your energy level, helping you succeed during your college years.