As you have learned this year, being a student can be stressful! Balancing classes, readings, tests, papers, and assignments with the rest of your responsibilities can be overwhelming. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important factors in your success in college, and life.
You’ve completed a month of college this semester and it’s helpful to reflect upon your patterns of living – this will help with your upcoming exams, with your future activities, and your academic work in upcoming years.
Let’s emphasize three things: Get enough sleep, exercise, and eat healthy.
Getting a good night’s sleep, every night, will help you function at your highest level. During college, changes in both your physical and social environment can affect your ability to get quality sleep. The most important part of sleep is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which allows you to wake up refreshed and truly rested. Research has shown that during REM sleep you consolidate what you have learned that day, and that you learn better when you get good quality sleep. Large meals, nicotine, caffeine, exercise near bedtime, drugs, alcohol, and irregular sleep schedules; all can interfere with your ability to reach REM sleep.
Despite having a very busy schedule it is important to make time for exercise. Regular exercise will improve your physical and mental health, reduce your chances of getting sick and increase your motivation. Pick an exercise that you will enjoy, such as walking, jogging, basketball, tennis, aerobics, swimming, biking, or yoga. Work exercise into your schedule and into your daily activities; take the stairs or park in the back of the parking lot.
Be careful about your diet. The stressful, time-crunched environment of college, and particularly the end of the semester and exam times, can lead to vending machine lunches and take-out pizza dinners. Plan ahead and snack on low fat, low salt foods, like raisins, popcorn, carrots, yogurt, fresh fruit and pretzels. Drink lots of water, and avoid soft drinks and sugary fruit drinks. Eat a diverse group of foods. Your body needs a variety of vitamins and nutrients to function at its fullest, and to survive. Salad for every meal will not satisfy your body’s needs.