7 College Health Tips No One Else Will Tell You

When you ship off to college, it seems like everyone has some sort of health advice that they absolutely must tell you about.

Much of this advice, it seems, is solely focused on making sure that you don’t gain any weight (when I was about to go to college, Soraya, my eyebrow waxer, told me she’d slap me if I came back for winter break having gained “zee American freshman fifteen,” which seemed a little extreme to me). You’ll hear a lot of people tell you to pay attention to portion control in the dining hall and to make it a habit to go to the gym every day.

While it’s certainly important to stay healthy in college–or, you know, all the time–health actually means more than just making sure you eat a salad every now and then and trying to burn off any late-night pizza binges on the college gym treadmill. Check out these seven college health tips that no one else will tell you:

Don't Make Being Skinny Your Barometer Of Health

A lot of girls, I've noticed, go to college with "not getting fat" their singular health goal, which, if you ask me, is pretty messed up. Yeah, staying healthy is very important, but simply not gaining the "freshman fifteen" is not actually a good indicator of health. To do this, just try to think about what makes you feel healthy--for me, this meant not keeping a scale in my room and eating foods that made me feel good (so, sometimes salad, sometimes pizza) rather than foods that were just low-calorie. You'll be happier if you don't focus exclusively on your weight.

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Don't Let Your Schoolwork Consume Your Life

Much like staying healthy, schoolwork is obviously hugely important, but if you find that it starts to consume your entire life, it's time for a breather. So, if you find yourself actually taking advantage of the 24/7 library all the time instead every now and then, it might be time for a quick break. Which brings me to my next point...

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Sometimes, Sleep Should Come First

All-nighters are NOT your friend. If you have an exam the next day and you have to choose between going through one last look-through of the study guide or getting a few hours of sleep, always choose sleep. If you don't, you'll be so tired in the exam that the extra hours you spent studying won't even be worth it. Protip: Start your papers and exam studying in advance so you never have to deal with this (aspirational, I know, but so worth it if you actually do it.)

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Don't Let Caffeine Become Your Lifeblood

This one is hard. I didn't drink coffee at all before I went to college. This turned into drinking coffee a couple times a week during my freshman year, which eventually brought me to my current state of drinking coffee every day OR ELSE. Stuff like this happens to a lot of people, so don't be surprised if you start drinking coffee in college. But. Just drink it in moderation, please. Limit yourself to one or two cups a day, and don't drink it past 3 PM.

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Walk As Much As You Can

If possible, walk to your classes instead of driving or taking a bus. This isn't so much about burning calories as it is about staying alert. There's something so rejuvenating about walking around, and it'll also give you some alone time to think about things, whether it's your lengthy to do list or Important Life Musings. Trust me, you'll be much more alert for your 8 AM if you take the extra time to walk or bike there rather than sleeping for as much as you can on the bus ride over.

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Know That There Are Resources If You Aren't Feeling Like Yourself

Some people go through some tough mental stuff when they first get to college. After all, it's weird being away from home for the first time, and dealing with the new stresses that come with college--like harder classes and new friends--can be really, really challenging to deal with. Thankfully, lots of schools offer a multitude of mental health options, like counselors and support groups. These are often included in tuition, too, so you don't need to pay extra or even tell your parents if you don't want to.

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Above All, Pay Attention To Your Own Mind And Body

Basically, you know you the best. These are the "rules" that worked for me, but you should always be in control and aware of your body and its needs. Sometimes your body will need to go for a run, and sometimes you're just going to need to watch Netflix and eat cookies. You can break the "rules" every now and then, as long as you're doing what's genuinely best for you.

Image source:iStock

Do you agree with these health tips? Did I forget anything? Let us know in the comments below!

 You can follow the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter or Instagram.


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