Being healthy in college is hard. You constantly feel stressed or overwhelmed with all the work and studying, and taking care of your body seems to drop on your priority list. You feel like you just don’t have the time to make it to the gym or to go on that run. You find yourself ordering pizza or quickly scarfing down some junk food during your study break. There’s no way you have time to actually cook a healthy, well-balanced meal for yourself. And as far as sleep goes, well it’s practically non-existent. You definitely haven’t gotten that recommended 8 hours in a longggg time (probably since the first week of the semester).
But don’t fret. I know it seems totally impossible with your crazy schedule to actually find the time to take care of yourself. But there is a way. You just have to commit to it.
Being healthy and taking care of your body and your mind is a responsibility everyone has as a human being. If you aren’t being active, or eating right, or getting enough sleep, it all comes back to you and your decisions. Bad habits can be changed, or can easily be continued. But you have to want to change.
I played basketball and ran track and cross country in high school and I was in extremely good shape. The summer after graduation I tried to keep my old habits of waking up early and going for my morning run. However, I found that I no longer had the same motivation or drive to run hard and I began to sleep in more and more. Once I started my first semester of college I was determined to start running well again. I did well at first, but with all the chaos of my first semester and rush and my difficult courses, it became less and less of a reality.
Then all of the sudden one day I decided to change. I realized that I was just making excuses for myself before because I was too tired or stressed and I really just didn’t have passion to run like I used to. But at that moment I decided all that was going to change. Running 3 miles only takes about 25-30 minutes and I definitely had that much time to spare, despite my busy schedule.
This time when I decided to stick to a running schedule every day, I changed a few things. Instead of trying to force myself to wake up early and run like I had always done before, I decided to run at night. Waking up early before my classes would just be more difficult and probably result in me pressing snooze. This was the key to me succeeding in my commitment. At the end of the day I was actually looking forward to take my 9:00pm study break to go for my run. Plus, it was cool outside instead of extreme heat. It became my way to de-stress from my hectic day and just let out any frustration or whatever. It once again, became my passion.
After I started running again and getting back into good shape, I decided I wanted to start eating healthier too. I’ve never eaten super bad and when I did eat not so great things for me it never seemed to effect me because of my fast metabolism and my small portion eating. However, I knew if I made more of an effort to just substitute some of the junk I did eat for a healthier option, it would make me and my body feel even better.
So I began to buy healthier snacks for around my dorm and drink a lot more water than I already was. I also took advantage of my dining hall and the meal plan I have which offers unlimited food in the cafeteria. Which along with all the junk and not so good foods for you, actually offers an amazing salad bar. As well as a healthy alternative to any of the usually foods on the menu. My body felt so much better. I flushed all the junk that was in my system out and it made me wake up happier, feel more energized, and be in an overall better mood.
Now to the sleep issue. I’m still at a constant struggle with this one to be honest. My whole first semester I don’t think that I was ever in bed before midnight, and most nights I was up until at least 2am studying. And I had to wake up every morning at 7:00am. I was definitely sleep deprived, as most college students are. Which makes you even more tired and have zero energy to take on the day or to study or to do anything at all really.
The only times when I would get to bed at a halfway decent hour was when I was prepared for that day. And I think that is the key. If you write down all of your assignments in your planner and plan to do them ahead of when they are due and actually study for tests the night or even a few nights before, it makes all the difference. You are not nearly as stressed or anxious and can get things down way more efficiently. So though sometimes all-nighters can be unavoidable to a college student, the key to sleep on a consistent basis is without a doubt time management and being prepared.
So if you take anything at all from this article, just remember that it is 100% possible to be a successful college student, as well as being a healthy individual. It’s just determined by the choices you make and how you decide to live.