In the midst of assignments, online classes, work and family responsibilities, it’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness and neglect to take care of oneself. For the sake of your physical and mental well-being, however, it is essential that you find time to exercise, rest, eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated.
Here are a few tips to get you started on the path to physical wellness as a college student:
- Stay mentally and physically fit. Studies show that adults who regularly engage in physical activity are not only more physically fit; their cognitive abilities are also greatly enhanced. Take care of both your mind and body and hit the gym. Many colleges have an on-campus workout facility that is free to students. If you struggle to keep yourself accountable with your workouts, try signing up for an intramural sport or fitness class where you have to go every week.
- Sleep sweet and deep. As tempting as it is to simply reach for another cup of espresso and study late into the night, sleep deprivation negatively impacts mental performance. Try setting an alarm 15 minutes before your bedtime as a cue to put the textbooks away and start settling in for the night. Regardless of how much work you were unable to get done the night before, come morning, your brain will feel refreshed and ready to tackle another day of classwork.
- Eat well to stress less. The better you eat, the better prepared you are to handle stress. Eating whole grains can boost serotonin levels in your brain, improving your mood. Fruits and vegetables with high levels of Vitamin C and magnesium, such as strawberries and spinach, can reduce cortisol, a hormone that induces stress. Be sure to watch your caffeine intake as well, because too much caffeine may cause you to feel anxious.
- Drink plenty of water. Water is not only important for carrying out bodily functions, it also contributes to our energy levels. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you feel tired. Depending on your physical activity level and overall health, the amount of water adults should drink each day varies from person to person. A good practice is to simply drink a glass of water whenever you feel thirsty or in need of an energy boost.
Practice time management
As a nontraditional student, it is likely you have more commitments than a college student starting right out of high school. Learn how to make good use of your free time and how you are best able to concentrate. Does listening to music or having background noise help you focus? Are mornings a better time to study, or is it early evening? Run errands or work out when you don’t focus as well and reserve your best times to concentrate on studying. It often helps to keep a to-do list, so when you have time, you can check off something on the list. It will also help you prioritize what should be done right away or what can be started now and finished later.
Although it can be challenging to balance a family and career with your college education, try to take advantage of the campus activities available to you. Most colleges have a wide array of student organizations you can join. If you enjoy writing, consider writing for your college newspaper or submit a story to a student publication. If you like to stay active, sign up to participate in an intramural sport or fitness club. Some colleges have activities specifically for nontraditional students.
Campus involvement doesn’t have to be exclusive to you; it can turn into a family affair! Have your spouse and kids join you at a football game or buy tickets to see the college theater department put on a play.
If you have the ability to do so, participating in student events and clubs is a great way to get acquainted with your classmates, form friendships and provide yourself with a creative outlet.
If you are going to be on campus, you will likely find yourself walking between classes rather than driving or participating in late night study sessions. You will meet many new people, and there is a chance you may meet someone you shouldn’t trust. Take a self-defense course, whether you are a male or female. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use those skills, but in case you do, you will be prepared.