“When you feel great, you emanate a certain energy that translates as beautiful.” – Christie Brinkley
We all know that staying healthy in college isn’t easy. During the semester it’s easy to get wrapped up in heavy coursework, clubs, work, and interning and completely sacrifice your health in the process. While there are some easy steps you can take to avoid germs when you live in the dorms, avoiding acute illnesses is only one part of making sure you feel your best.
Today, we’re taking it back to basics — and we recommend you join us. Here are a few simple things you can do on a regular basis to stay healthy throughout the semester, plus why they’re worth it. They’re easy and only take a few minutes out of your day. Trust us, they’re worth it!
Yup, you knew it was coming. Working out is important, even when you have five million other things on your plate.
Look, we are all crazy busy, so it’s important that we try to fit in our workouts however possible. The recommended minimum for women our age is 30 minutes a day but that’s not always feasible. So if you have a busy schedule, I suggest trying your best to work out three times a week, whether it’s going on a run, swimming, or going to a workout class with friends. (And yes, walking between classes can count for exercise, provided you walk quickly enough to get your heart rate up.)
Working out is good for blowing off steam and keeping every aspect of your health in check — so it’s important that you don’t skip it. When I’m feeling stressed, I like to work out to take my mind off of things that are bothering me. As a bonus, regular exercise gives you more peaceful sleep, something college students always need.
2. Allow Time for Self-Care
We say this all the time on CF but that’s because it’s so important: You need to make time for self care. College life can be so busy that it’s hard to leave time to take care of yourself. But after a while you will need to treat yourself — otherwise, you’re going to burn out fast.
There are zillions of ways to practice self care, many of which we’ve already talked about on CF extensively. Examples can include treating yourself to a nice dinner or spending a night in and doing your nails. Anything that makes you feel like your best self counts. My favorite thing to do when I’m having a self-care night is to watch my favorite movie and put on a face mask. Little things like this will help you feel refreshed and mentally healthy, which will allow you to push through the rest of the semester.
3. Eat Clean
I know, I know: At college, it’s hard to eat healthy all the time. Some colleges make healthy eating near impossible so students resort to fast food because it’s most convenient. And I don’t have to tell you that regularly eating fast food is bad for your health.
What students really need is to focus on eating clean food. This means that you should focus on eating vegetables, fruits, lean meats (if you eat meat), and legumes, and cutting out foods with added sugar, preservatives, and saturated fats. This will give you more energy and will make your body stronger and mind clearer. Of course you can always have a cheat day, but if you keep your diet in check most of the time, you’ll reap serious benefits in every area of your life.
For more on this, see our guide to maintaining a healthy diet in college.
4. Spend Time with Friends
Oftentimes when coursework gets heavy, it’s hard to stay connected to friends. You end up spending your days in the library and studying for hours on end. While studying is obviously important, completely separating yourself from friends is detrimental to your health.
To get your fill of social interaction, try to make plans with friends throughout your week in order to have breaks in between your work. Plan a night out on the town or just spend the afternoon in your dorm binge watching your favorite show. Spending time with friends is fun and good for your health, so make it a priority!
You’ve heard it before so I’ll say it for the millionth time: The most important thing every college student needs is sleep! We like to think that we can go weeks without getting the proper amount of sleep or that we “just don’t need to sleep that much,” but that’s not the case. Students that continuously skip nights of sleep will eventually crash and can even get sick much easier than their well-rested peers.
Sleep allows you to get things going for the day and helps you feel refreshed after a day of classes. So make sure that you are getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night in order to be your best self. (See also: 5 important reasons to make sleep a priority in college.)
How Do You Remain Healthy at College?
Let us know in the comments below how you stay healthy while at college! Do you follow all of these five steps? Which ones do you need to work on? Let’s discuss in the comments.