College students are painfully familiar with perpetual feelings of stress and burnout. Every week just seems to pile onto the already existing workload. On top of that, we’re supposed to have a job, maintain a social life, and take care of ourselves in the meantime. This can be a lot to handle. However, there are ways to help cope with the madness and get your life under control.
Here’s a list of my top 10 wellness tips for college students:
1. Drink water and stay hydrated as much as possible
As someone who gets constant headaches and feels drained of energy all the time, I can concur that drinking water does in fact have more benefits than one. It helps rid your body of waste, which can help clear your skin of acne and facilitate the processes that your digestive system undergoes. If you feel bloated or experience heartburn, I suggest drinking more water for a simple fix. Not only does it help those organs, but drinking water also helps brain function and cognitive processing. So, if you want to optimize your performance as a student, make sure to reach your hydration goals!
2. Try to eat more whole foods
This is a lot easier said than done, especially as a college student who has to make financially conscious decisions all of the time. Whole foods can definitely rack up your monthly grocery budget, but if you make lists and invest time in meal planning, this can help you maintain your protein intake and overall satisfaction throughout the day. Eating nutritious foods not only makes you fuller and more satiated, but fats in whole foods help maintain brain cell structure, which optimizes function. So along with drinking water more often, try to prioritize eating leafy greens and fruits to get your best work done as a student.
3. Get your bedtime routine right
Never get comfortable giving up sleep to stay up late and finish assignments. If given notice ahead of time, professors usually understand if you need an extension for anything. They show more awareness and sympathy for anything regarding mental health (and good health starts with good sleep). However, you should still try to stick to these steps leading up to bedtime. Firstly, try to avoid doing work in bed. Your bed is meant for sleeping, so keep that space separate from your work space. Also, try to avoid eating or drinking caffeine a couple hours before bed. This can interrupt your sleep quality and your body’s internal clock. Taking your sleep seriously will pay off more than you might think, so take initiative and get your sleep schedule under control.
4. Always take time to plan out your week
I know that not everything goes to plan all the time, but using a planner definitely helps. It’s good to have an idea of how much of a workload you have, or how much time you have to eat, go to the gym, or hang out with friends. Also, seeing your week planned out helps you get things done in a more organized manner. Prepare yourself ahead of time and adjust if something doesn’t work out, instead of getting caught on your heels and forced to catch up. By having a planner and writing everything out, it’s easier to move things around as they happen. If you have a productive day and get more work done than expected, you can see when you have free time to go see friends. If an assignment takes a little longer, you can adjust and see when you have time to yourself later in the week. Nonetheless, a calendar never hurt anybody.
5. Set aside time to be active
This is another thing that might seem like a big ask, especially if you try to exercise every day with a tight schedule. However, being active doesn’t always mean you need to go to the school gym for over an hour. I’d suggest taking the opportunity to walk to class or the grocery store instead of taking the train or driving. Even if walking is too far, you can also bike instead. Even going on shorter walks after meals just to get your mind clear from doing work all day and helping your body digest food can be beneficial as well.
“It’s imperative that you set some time aside from school to do something active. By putting school aside for a moment, it allows your brain to refresh itself,” Syracuse University junior Agustin Gonzalez said.
Living on campus provides many opportunities to get your body moving throughout the day. Many schools have intramural sports clubs that you can join if daily walks don’t give you enough action. Even if you’re off campus, make an effort to find a good trail to walk, run, or bike on and explore your city! You can always bring out the yoga mat and try a new YouTube dance workout at home as well. As long as you get the chance to move your body just a little bit every day, it can significantly help your physical and mental health.
6. It’s okay to have nights in
Weekends at college are probably filled with some of the most fun memories you will make in a lifetime. People always say to take advantage of the experiences you have outside of class. They often emphasize the newfound freedom and liberty you have to do whatever you want. But sometimes, going out every single weekend can be tiring, and it’s okay to take some time for yourself and relax. If you have class four or five days of the week, wouldn’t it be smart to rest for the one or two days you have to yourself?
“I personally don’t like to go out all the time because I feel like it’s a waste of my time or whenever I’m out, sometimes I get overwhelmed. People have different priorities and it’s okay to put yourself first,” San Diego State University junior Moraya Drayton said.
Your college experience is what you make of it. Everyone has different standards of what “fun” is, and that doesn’t always mean partying your heart out. I get that FOMO is a huge thing and viewing everyone’s Snapchat stories at a party when alone in bed can sometimes make you regret staying at home. However, pushing yourself throughout the week and working nonstop calls for some time to unwind. I highly suggest you take it.
7. Have a hobby that helps you destress
In addition to taking time away from friends to wind down, I also highly suggest investing time in a hobby that isn’t related to school or work. Some of these hobbies may include taking up painting, knitting, reading, dancing, journaling, or listening to podcasts. Joining clubs on campus can open up opportunities to go to events with activities like the ones listed. They happen all the time and are fun social events. It’s a great way to meet new friends with similar interests in the meantime!
“Having a hobby you genuinely enjoy that isn’t academic is needed for balance. College students dedicate enough of their time to studying and to avoid burnout, you need something that makes you happy and fulfilled that isn’t homework,” De Anza College junior Rosalinda Baeza said.
The important thing to remember is that these activities shouldn’t take energy out of you. Instead, you should be excited to do them! While you plan out what assignments you have to do during the week, also plan some time for your destressing hobby. It’ll make you more motivated to get work done and have an activity to look forward to during the day. Having something in your routine that emphasizes decreasing stress levels and anxiety can help you focus on the present moment outside of your busy schedule.
8. Invest in connections outside of college
This one can be a little difficult for some, especially since school takes up a lot of time and energy. However, I think that making friendships outside of college is crucial to realizing that your life doesn’t completely revolve around school. Having a community outside of college is important and it also forces you to branch out and create an identity for yourself that isn’t just a student. Whether you make connections through your coworkers at your job or a place you volunteer at off campus, it can broaden your horizons and open up perspectives that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
9. Keep a clean space
When times get busy, cleaning your room or your space can be the last thing on your mind. But trying to focus in a space that has a lot of mess and clutter can make it more difficult for work to get done. If you want your mind clear and organized, your space must reflect it. When you get up in the morning, I suggest making your bed. It’s a good start to the day and it’s easy to start your daily routine with one simple cleaning task. I also suggest putting away laundry or unhung clothes before they start to pile up and turn into a chore that is overwhelming. Lastly, keep your desk space tidy. Buy desk organizers to keep your materials in the right places so you don’t lose track of them. Spraying your room or space with a clean scent is the perfect way to top things off and leave your space ready for productivity.
10. Appreciate the little things
College is a time where you can’t help but think about your future and the big picture and stress about the what-if situations. It’s extremely important to slow down and take a look at what’s in front of you. It’s hard to enjoy college when you’re too worried about what’s going to happen instead of experiencing the present. Going to college is a gift within itself, and we need to take advantage of the opportunities that we are given each day. Appreciating the little things helps bring us down to earth when we constantly put ourselves on a pedestal waiting for its collapse. So, take a look around once in a while and take note of things like the leaves changing color, a cute dog walking on the street, or a good sunset on a busy Wednesday evening. These moments pass you by fast, make sure to take time and enjoy them while they last.