By Jenny Gregory
Now that you’re settled into your first semester of college, you’ve probably realized just how easy it is for stress to creep into your life — especially if you have all-night study sessions. Skipping meals or eating unhealthy foods is often a result of the busyness and stress.
Those witty Snickers’ commercials say it best: You’re not you when you’re hungry. It’s true. Eating right, exercising regularly and reducing stress will help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.
- Don’t Skip Breakfast
Mom was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. According to The American Society of Nutritional Sciences’ Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that breakfast calories are more filling and satisfying than calories eaten later in the day, so eating breakfast will lead to lower calorie consumption overall. It’s easy to grab a quick bite if you’re running late. Keep a stockpile of granola or yogurt bars in your dorm room, or grab a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Also, coffee is okay — up to two cups per day — but try to limit the creams, sugars and lattes.
- Eat Three Square Meals a Day
Have you ever heard of the Freshman 15? It’s a real thing! According to WebMD.com, nearly one in four freshmen gain at least 5 percent of their total body weight — an average of about 10 pounds — during their first semester in college. Just say no to skipping meals, especially breakfast! Most colleges have dining facilities with all-you-can-eat serving stations. Be sure to go for the healthier options. It’s ok to have the pizza, but eat a salad first! Also, don’t forget to grab some fresh fruit after you finish.
Want to boost your mood quickly? Get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping is a great way to help with your mood and mental health. Getting a good seven to eight hours of restful sleep at night is the key to not only relieving some of your stress but also strengthening your immune system so you stay well for class. So, consider turning off the Netflix and counting sheep instead!
We all know that, regardless of your age, exercise is the key. Why? Exercise stimulates brain cell development, which is a great benefit for anyone. Exercise reduces stress, helps with weight loss, boosts mood, and increases focus and concentration. It’s relatively easy to do — it just requires a little time and motivation. Try taking the long route to class during the day, playing intramural sports, working out in the fitness center or finding an accountability partner who will partner with you to stay fit. Be sure to have fun with it! Exercise in the way that you enjoy the most and that works the best for your busy schedule. Having fun will help you to stay committed.
- Snack Intelligently
Put down that donut! Instead, choose nuts or yogurt — items rich in protein or fiber. Limit snacks that are high in sugar, like pastries, candy, cookies and cake. When it comes to quenching your thirst, water is the best option. Caffeinated sodas (including diet) and energy drinks (or that Venti Macchiato you’re drinking) are huge no-no’s when trying to stay fit and healthy. Not only do they cause an energy crash in the afternoon, but they can lead to weight gain and can be linked to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Try a fruit smoothie with no added sugar or drink plain water!
- Leave the Stress at the Door
Exams, papers and quizzes, oh my! College can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Creating a weekly routine will help to reduce stress. Maximize your days by scheduling study time, exercise, sleep and fun with friends. Give yourself a break. If you’ve been working steadily for hours, give yourself a chance to rest. Grab a snack or take a walk. You will come back feeling more refreshed and ready to go. Prioritize. You’re in college for a short season. It’s ok that you can’t do everything. Prioritize your activities and let some things go. Take care of your spiritual and physical well-being, and enjoy learning!
What’s the bottom line? Take some simple steps toward a healthy lifestyle while in college. It takes care, planning and motivation, but the reward will pay off — you’ll thrive in school and in your social life.
Jenny Gregory is the Content Manager for Truett McConnell University.Return to Blog Archive