College life presents many unique challenges. From classwork to homework, from friends to that annoying neighbor down the hall that won’t stop playing music at night, just existing on campus is bound to present some interesting times. Your parents warned you about how stress can affect your health, so you’ve taken all the precautions and stocked your fridge with fruits and vegetables ready for snacking.
However, lurking in the deep recesses of your mind, the stress from adapting to no bedtime and total freedom is weighing on you. Your pores are clogged from the tension. Your plants are suffering from neglect. Fear not, dear reader, for you have stumbled upon this handy guide that will (if followed) help you reach your health goals with simple life hacks and low-effort changes to your daily life.
Mental Health Tips
Staying mentally fit is just as important (or perhaps more so) as keeping physically healthy. Strengthen your mind, take breaks, and take care of yourself before you become overwhelmed.
- Take deep breaths when you feel stressed.
- Take a long walk around campus for a much-needed break and some treasured alone time. If you want to go farther, have a friend, just in case.
- Carla Hagan, the nurse on campus, also had a few good tips: Take advantage of resources on campus. Counseling is free, use it. Students may be used to stability in the home, so she recommends visiting the nurse, your advisor, your coach, or some teachers for advice.
- Know when to quit! It’s okay to not be up for finishing your essay or Calculus assignment at all times. Know when you’re feeling overwhelmed and take a short break.
- Take up a hobby.
- Eat when you’re hungry. Going to Ryan or DSAC doubles as a good break from exhausting work.
- Libby Lyons, a counselor on campus, mentioned, “The Counseling and Wellness Center […] is a free resource to all students. There are three counselors, including myself who address issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, homesickness, time management, eating disorders, and many other issues. There and various ways to relax or wind down after a stressful day/week. Getting together with friends and getting a meal, watching a favorite TV show or movie, or just hanging out.”
- Write yourself a nice note to read later.
- Text your friends and see if they are willing and able to hang out.
- A student who previously lived on campus, Josephine Bahr, writes, “Try to sleep, it really makes a difference. I get crabby or cry a lot when low on sleep.”
- Start your assignment early to avoid the panic that comes with procrastination
Physical Health Tips
Being physically healthy will help you stay mentally healthy. Exercise provides a nice way to blow off steam while making sure you don’t feel sick from the buffet too often.
- Eat some vegetables. Probably eat fruits too. Just eat some plants with your daily chicken tenders and bacon cheeseburgers.
- Avoid washing your face in the shower. It’s often too hot.
- Eat less of the daily chicken tenders and bacon cheeseburgers. Switch one of those out with something a little healthier.
- Hagan recommends using the diagram on Myplate.gov to build your plate, having a balanced diet, adding additional greens if you want to lose or maintain your weight, and limiting sweets.
- Get around eight hours of sleep every night. I won’t preach about exactly eight hours, but you should probably strive for that. You can’t get back lost hours of sleep.
- When asked about steps to live healthier, Bahr replied, “I like vegetables and cook for myself a lot, but I also joined the tennis team for exercise.”
- Walk wherever you can! Walgreens, the closest movie theater, and Forest Park are all within walking distance from Fontbonne! The Galleria is as well if you’re willing to really stretch your legs.
- Lyons had some more ideas, “exercise is another great way to relax, as long as it’s in a healthy way. Going for a walk or run 30-45 minutes, 2-3 times a week or weight lifting 2 times a week are moderate ways to move your body. Finding an exercise that you enjoy and find fun is key!”
- Take the stairs. You’ve heard this a million times and it will suck the first few times, but soon you’ll feel amazing when you reach the top.
- Hagan also suggested students should schedule breaks between studying (sit for 60 minutes, be active for 5 minutes), use the fitness classes offered on campus, and walk to Forest Park.
- Wash your pillowcase to get rid of the dirt that can cause pimples.
- Take it easy at Starbucks. The frap can be downsized or replaced. Pay attention to the calorie count and notice healthy alternatives. The venti white chocolate mocha frap has about 600 calories, while a tall has about 300.
- Balance the cookies and crackers at the grocery store with fresh fruit. Bananas are both crazy cheap and crazy healthy.
- Lyons does not support diets and instead supports the idea of Intuitive Eating, where you would “listen to your body and mind” will help with “Learning to listen to what [your] hunger cues are and how to follow them.”
These are some tricks that I and others have picked up as we made it through college. From simple things like how to get cheaper or free groceries to a job suggestion by a student still working there, these hacks will help you achieve success on campus.
- If you need to use up your last meal swipe, but your mom just sent you some amazing leftovers, bring a bag to DSAC with you and order snacks. You can skip the entree and get three snacks from the fridge, chip rack, or cereal tray for a meal swipe. Stick those in your fridge or makeshift pantry for later. Eat a home-cooked meal while spending your meal swipe.
- To get through nursing school, Hagan would have a nutritious snack before long work hours, practice good time management, have the calendar be as colorful and organized as the plate, and balance the calendar to make time for everything.
- The Griffin Market is another way to get groceries for free, excellent for when you have no car or meal swipes left.
- Go to campus events! If not for the opportunities to join clubs and make friends, go for free meals. This could save you a trip to the grocery store in the future and you still have that meal swipe for another day.
- Bahr vouches for working in foodservice: “You will never be hungry or lacking caffeine.”
- Take some Tupperware to Ryan to stock up on as many fresh veggies you can to eat as snacks later or to use for your own recipes.
- You can borrow tools and things from Ryan Hall. Just ask.
- Speaking of asking, you can ask for raw ingredients from any on-campus dining establishment and they will generally oblige.
- When asked about tips she used in school, Lyons brought up that coffee is good for when you stay up too late with your favorite shows.
- WASH YOUR FACE. Unless you’re on medication that prevents oil buildup or dryness, your skin will suffer the moment you get stressed.
- Try a DIY facemask. Not only is it cheaper than a spa treatment, but you can also customize it to fit your skin concerns. One of my favorites is to combine a mixture of honey and green tea leaves into a paste and let that sit on your face for about fifteen minutes and then wash it off in small circles. This kills bacteria while exfoliating.