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Pizza, hot pockets, chicken wings, and ramen noodles-what do these foods have in common? They may be considered by many college students as the four food groups. Filled with saturated fat, sodium, and refined carbs with basically no nutritional value, these types of foods weaken the immune system and can leave you feeling fatigued. Superfoods are the perfect companion for the busy college student because they pack a powerful punch of vital nutrients that are beneficial to physical and mental well-being. Walnuts, kale, salmon, berries, beans, whole grains are just a few superfoods that provide your body with energy and help fight illness and disease. Try to include a daily dose of one type of superfood (or more!) and your body will thank you for years to come.
Juggling homework, friendships, variable class schedules, and part time jobs make drinking enough water low on the priority list of many overloaded college students. While there is no universally agreed upon quantity of water that is required daily, we know that water has vast health benefits that effect every cell in our bodies. Water improves mood and mental acuity, flushes out waste and harmful bacteria, prevents headaches, improves skin texture, all while enhancing nutrient absorption. Strategies for staying adequately hydrated throughout the day include making a habit out of toting a water bottle with you to class, sipping on water during all meals, and including water rich foods (Cucumber, zucchini, watermelon, and grapefruit) into your daily diet. How can you keep track of your water intake throughout the day? There’s an app for that! Hint water, Waterlogged, and Hydro Coach are all popular (and free) apps that make getting your daily dose of H20 fun and easy.
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 learning with classmates, your college years are bound to be filled with laughter, learning experiences, and new adventures. While this is fun and exciting, it can lead to feeling depleted of energy and downright stressed. Finding time for yourself everyday can allow you to rest and recharge by processing and reflecting upon the day. Taking time out for yourself builds confidence by facilitating a sense of independence and can help you to discover where your interests and passions may lie. Making lifelong friends is a wonderful part of the college experience, but taking time to be alone and reflect will enhance your life experiences during and beyond the college years.
When taking into account the balancing act of juggling classes, homework, social obligations, and study groups, what college 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 decreased ability to concentrate, impaired memory, and a diminished ability to learn new information. Incorporating various strategies including limiting caffeine after 3pm, practicing time management with respect to school work, and minimizing sleep disruptions can help you learn more effectively and grow into a well-rested adult.
Simply put, your body was meant to move. Despite having a full plate, getting some form of exercise on a daily basis should be a top priority for every college student. 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. Taking a daily walk, dancing to your favorite tunes, utilizing one of the many fitness apps out there, or taking a physical education class for credit can all ensure you meet your daily dose of exercise.
Running to an 8am class in flip flops trying not to spill your coffee, all while holding an umbrella. This scene plays out on college campuses across the country. Packed schedules, tight budgets, and lack of cooking facilities and tools create the perfect storm to promote skipping meals. Skipping meals slows the metabolism, contributes to overeating, and promotes nutrient deficiencies. Eating three meals a day will ensure that you’re getting the nutrition your body needs and help set you up for a more efficient metabolism to burn off that late night pizza delivery.
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.
Gone are the days of curfews, and checking in with the parents after a late night. While getting a full night of sleep would be ideal, let’s be honest, college is filled with caffeine fueled study sessions, chatting with friends into the wee hours, and late night pizza delivery. Given all the tempting late nighttime options in college, coupled with those pesky 8am classes, it’s no wonder why getting a full night of sleep may seem out of reach. Here’s where napping may be the answer to your sleepy prayers. When running on empty, a power nap might may 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 going to bed at a decent hour nearly impossible.
Eating copious amounts of junk food, partying all night, and overspending on frivolous items may be ways to destress but 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 destress that much more important. Watching your favorite movie, taking a walk, and finding a new hobby are all healthy ways to decompress. Also, discovering ways to give back to your new local community is a great way to meet new people and relax. Passionate about dogs? Volunteer at the local animal shelter.
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 wellbeing and can ward off feelings of loneliness. Reaching out to a friend or family member on a daily basis may diminish the natural feelings of home sickness and make for a smoother transition to college life.
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