1. Stick to a routine. Create a schedule for yourself and block out certain times of the day for things that should not be missed, like meals, exercise and sleep. It’s so important to eat at regular times throughout the day–at the very least, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a schedule, you’re less likely to skip meals. Breakfast is often neglected because it’s so tempting to roll out of bed five minutes before class, but with a routine, you’re forced to wake up in time for it. Eating regularly also prevents snacking on junk food. As for working out, having a schedule means that you don’t need to feel motivated in order to exercise. All you need to do is follow your schedule.
2. Snacking. Let’s face it, snacking is going to be inevitable in college. You have the freedom to buy and eat whatever you choose to because no one will watch over your shoulder and remind you to eat healthily, no one will make you oatmeal for breakfast–you have to make that choice for yourself. In order to snack healthily (yes, it’s possible!), only keep healthy snacks, like fruits and cereal bars, in your room so that those will be the first snacks that you’re forced to grab, instead of a pack of Doritos. If you’re not a fan of healthy snacks, simply don’t keep any snacks around at all. Keeping snacks around is not a great idea, especially if you’re prone to stress-eating.
3. Walk. College campuses are built for walking from class to your dorm to the dining halls, so there’s no reason to cab, drive or take the subway. If you live in a city that’s very compact, exercise your calf muscles and walk everywhere. If you don’t, a great alternative is cycling. The usual running and lifting workout isn’t for everyone (I’m not saying it’s not great… it’s just not for everyone), and if you’re one of those people, do yourself a favor and become a marathon walker. It saves money, too! If you live on a lower floor of your residence hall, stretch yourself and walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
4. Water. Sometimes, we can take water for granted. At least, I do. I forget to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day, and when you become thirsty, it’s your body’s way of telling you it’s too late–you should be drinking water before you ever become thirsty. Carry a water bottle in your school bag so you can refill it on campus instead of buying beverages like coffee, which are less healthy for you than water and probably cost a lot more, too. If you already have water with you, you’re less likely to bother going to the nearest Starbucks to order a fattening, over-caffeinated and excessively sugary drink.
5. Emergen-C. Every college student needs to swear by this stuff. If you don’t already know about Emergen-C and keep a stack of it stored in your dorm, then you need to get on this ASAP. It’s a small packet of vitamin supplement drink mix that includes 1000mg of vitamin C and other immunity boosting antioxidants and vitamins to enhance your energy and health in general. Constantly have a store of Emergen-C in your room so you can pop some in your water when you’re feeling under the weather–before it becomes full-blown illness. Taking care of yourself is hard enough as it is without adding illness to the picture. Catch yourself before you get sick so you don’t have to worry about being out of school for days and still having to keep up in your classes.
6. Gym buddy. Get one. It might even make working out fun. Also, just knowing that someone else is relying on you not to bail on them will place a heavier commitment on going to the gym. It’s easy to give yourself an excuse to skip a workout, but it’s a lot harder to convince someone else of that. Going to the gym with a friend will motivate you and force you to stick to your workout routine even on days when you really don’t want to, because that’s what friends are for, right? Sweating it out in the gym!
7. Working on your bed. Just don’t. I know it’s comfortable, believe me. But for that precise reason, it actually detracts from your productivity. Working on your bed will make you feel so relaxed, you’ll find yourself straying off your essay and onto Youtube, or even off your laptop altogether and onto your pillow. Not only that, it actually makes falling asleep at a usual bedtime more difficult, as it combines both your work space with your sleeping space, which may lead to insomnia. You don’t want to be thinking about work when you’re about to sleep. Your bed is supposed to be your safe haven. Keep it that way.
8. Roommates. Unless you’re living in a single room, chances are, you’re going to be living with roommates, and you’ll probably have different sleep routines, preferences and patterns. Maybe you can’t sleep without some light but your roommate can’t sleep unless the room is completely dark. Maybe you need some background noise to fall asleep while your roommate is a very light sleeper. With such contrasting sleeping preferences, there’s no other way to deal with it than to communicate and compromise, or you’ll both suffer sleepless nights (or one of you will, at the very least).
9. Vaccinations. Take advantage of them! You’ve probably already paid for them through your school’s health insurance requirement, so make use of them. A lot of vaccinations are offered through college health services, such as HPV vaccinations and flu shots. Nobody likes having vaccinations but the alternative is falling sick, and that may be infinitely worse without your parents around to take care of you.
10. Get involved. Another aspect of staying healthy is staying mentally healthy, not simply physically healthy. In a large college, it may be difficult to find a community to belong to, which may lead to loneliness and feelings of isolation, in addition to homesickness. To combat this, join school clubs, social organizations, sports teams and sororities or fraternities–whatever helps you to meet new people with similar interests.