It's a Balancing Act: College Students Guide to Staying Healthy
By Ruby Laine
Ruby Laine (she/her) is a current undergraduate student at The George Washington University pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Public Health. She is passionate about improving health outcomes for underserved communities, families, and children. She wishes
to assist in expanding access to healthcare and promote healthy lifesyle behaviors. She has previously worked with the NYC City Council in District 2 under Carlina Rivera while being an advocate for constituents and the community. As a member of the editorial team of Today’s Patient as a Senior Contributor, Ruby focuses on reaching out to wider audiences, to spread awareness for health concerns and improve health literacy.
Back-to-school season is upon us yet again. For most of us college students, going back to school is much different than what it used to be in grade school. We are transitioning to living independently, which means being responsible for what we eat and working out on top of being a student, maybe working a job, and trying to have a social life. This can be overwhelming and
can eventually take a toll on your health, whether it's mental or physical.
Many factors contribute to students getting sick with higher frequency, including lack of sleep, changing one's environment, high-stress levels, poor nutrition, and a lack of physical activity. Not including the masses of other students around you, carrying a host of other germs and illnesses. We are all bound to get sick, but here we will go over some tips to stay the healthiest
you can this semester.
1. Sleep is so important.
Studies have shown that the commonly known "freshman fifteen," or the phenomenon of gaining weight as one transitions into college, has more to do with a lack of sleep than anything else. Rest is necessary for your body to repair and restore, and it's not just how much sleep you get but the quality of sleep and having a consistent sleep schedule.
2. Stress is a risk factor.
Many people are unaware of stres's massive impact on our bodies and health. Negative stress has been shown to significantly contribute to developing chronic diseases and puts a strain on our immune systems, causing us to get sick more frequently. Stress
triggers your body's fight or flight mode, which causes the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. If these functions are repeated it increases your risk of severe health problems.
3. Hygiene in close contact living.
This doesn't just mean washing your hands after the bathroom and before you eat. It means a whole host of things like; taking showers regularly, washing your face, and brushing your teeth, which are small habits that need to be continued in this
environment. This also means washing your sheets and cleaning your room so you aren't creating a breeding ground. You can't control what others around you are doing to maintain their hygiene, but you can try to protect yourself.
4. Nutrition and Fitness.
Maintaining a balanced diet and incorporating physical activity will help you stay healthy, improve sleep, and reduce stress. This means going out of your way to include fruit and veggies in a meal and making sure you are drinking enough water. Physical activity adds up, and there is no one way, so find what works for you. It could be the gym with a friend, walks, yoga, or a sport. No one is saying you have to be working out every day or never eating desserts, but balance is key.
5. Take it easy when you are sick.
There is never a good time to get sick in college, and it always seems to happen at the worst times. Yet the more we can slow down and give our bodies time to heal, the quicker we bounce back. You might have to cancel a plan or two, stay in for a night, or
tell a professor you can't make it to class, but pretending it doesn't exist is doing more harm. Stay hydrated and sleep as much as you can. Your body will thank you.