Staying Healthy On & Off Campus
written by: Marlee Mason
COVID-19 may be causing all kinds of chaos for students, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t adjust and stay in control of our own physical and mental health.
Everyone knows that eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising regularly are necessary, and sometimes it can be difficult to know where you stand or where to start. Luckily, there are general, well-established guidelines to shoot for, which will definitely help you study more efficiently, promote positive feelings, and prevent getting sick:
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting added sugars, saturated or trans fats, and excessive sodium intake. Learning to be aware of portion sizes and reading nutrition labels is extremely helpful!
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. *pulling an all-nighter reduces memory recall and will not help you on that test!*
- Do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 times per week AND/OR at least 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise 5 times per week.
- Dedicate at least an hour out of the week to do something just for yourself that has nothing to do with school or work. It isn’t selfish, it’s self-care!
These are four really simple things, yet they all build off each other. If you find that you’re doing one or two of them really well but still don’t feel like you’re in a good place, it might be because all four are intertwined and some extra work may need to be done on the weak spot. The best part? All of these things can be done whether you’re in quarantine or not! All it takes is a little planning and creativity, and there are plenty of online resources dedicated to helping people figure out how to establish good long-term eating, sleeping, and exercising habits. Take advantage, and don’t be afraid to try new things! It took me a while to find out that I like a certain app for guiding some of my workouts, that I sleep better if I eat dinner earlier, and that tracking calories stressed me more than it helped me.
Here are some tips that work great for on-the-go undergrads:
- Add something healthy to a guilty pleasure or study snack. Love chocolate? Try a darker variety and add nuts or strawberries!
- Use your microwave for a wide variety of foods. Just about anything can be cooked *safely* and quickly in them, including healthy options like beans, eggs, potatoes, rice, etc.
- Baby steps are your friend! Even deciding to grab a banana instead of a donut in the morning or switching to whole grain pasta makes a difference! Set small, achievable goals and work from there.
- Plan ahead a little bit and bring healthier snacks like veggies, fruit, or nuts to campus or your at-home office so you don’t head straight for the vending machines come lunchtime.
- Identify what your best de-stressing methods are and USE THEM! I can’t tell you how many times my favorite playlist and some brownies after a long run saved me from a total meltdown.
Even incorporating just one of these tips will result in positive effects on your physical AND mental health. Do something today that your future self will thank you for!