Take control of your health in college.
Staying on top of your physical and mental health is important, especially as a student. Prioritizing both of these elements of your well-being will positively affect other areas of your life.
According to recent studies, 72% of college students felt, “very stressed” at least once in the past academic year. Another 70% say they feel sleep deprived. And to top it off, only 7% of students are getting an adequate amount of fruit and vegetables in their diet.
So, what does this all add up to? Poor physical and mental health.
We’re here to lay out how you can start integrating healthy habits into your daily routine, even as a busy college student. From exercise to meditation, nutrition to sleep, and so much more, we’ve got you covered.
Exploring The Connection Of Physical & Mental Well-Being
It’s no secret that there’s a huge link between physical and mental health. The two are inextricably connected—you can’t talk about one without talking about the other. In general, regular physical activity is associated with better mental health outcomes.
People with mental health issues are more likely to eventually experience physical health problems, and vice versus. For example, people with depression have a 50% chance of eventually developing cardiovascular disease.
Exercise has been proven to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. It also improves your overall mood and enhances your general well-being.
Clearly, taking care of your physical health directly impacts your mental health, and prioritizing mental health can improve your physical health. By working on one, you’re also working on the other.
Thriving Without Breaking The Bank
Now that you’ve decided to start taking care of your physical and mental health, you might be worried about the overall cost. Things like joining a gym or seeing a therapist aren’t free and are rarely cheap. So what are you, a college student on a budget, supposed to do?
Thankfully, there are free or low-cost resources available to you.
One way to save money and improve your health is to start cooking at home (or in your dorm) more. While it depends on how much you eat out now, those who cook at home more tend to save $2,000 to $4,000 per year on food expenses. That’s a huge amount of money that you could use towards something else! Plus, it’s healthier, too.
Most college campuses also have plenty of free resources available to students, as well. Check with your college to see if they offer free or low-cost therapy sessions to students (most do) to help you take steps to work on your mental health.
As far as exercise goes, there are more options available than ever before. Here are a few suggestions on where to get started when it comes to saving money and physical fitness:
- If available, utilize your college rec center as a gym. It’s usually included in your tuition costs, so you’ll have free access.
- There are plenty of low-cost gym memberships available, especially for students. Check out our list of the best low-cost gyms of 2023.
- If you’d rather work out by yourself, head to the internet! There are thousands of free resources available on YouTube, Instagram, and more!
Balancing Academics & Wellness
It might seem impossible to be able to manage your well-being while you’re in college—you barely have time to sleep, so how are you supposed to start adding more to your daily routine? Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips.
As with everything else in college, time management is crucial. Plan your workouts, meal prep, meditation, or whatever else you want to do to take care of your physical and mental health. If you see the time blocked off on your calendar, you’ll be less likely to put it off or reschedule it.
You also want to be realistic with your goals. Don’t get too ambitious right off the bat. Ease into your new routine, and give yourself an adjustment period. You don’t have to tackle everything all at once. Start with one goal and, once you have that built into your daily routine, try adding another.
Don’t forget to give yourself some grace, too. It’s going to be tough at first, but don’t get discouraged. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but all of your efforts will start to add up soon!
Essential Healthy Habits For Studying & Academics
But what about the other side of your college life? You know, the main part? The studying part? Yeah, that takes up a big chunk of your life. But there are even effective ways to manage that so your physical and mental health doesn’t take a nosedive.
Creating healthy and effective study habits will pay off in the long run. Remember, your goal is to work smarter, not harder. Thankfully, we’ve already covered all of that in another blog post, so you’re going to want to check out how to maximize your study time.
It can be tough to manage everything you have to get done, but remember that stress just builds up if you don’t have a positive outlet for it. Don’t be afraid to take breaks—it will pay off in the long run.
And sometimes, you just have to be okay with doing what you can in a day. Try and stay organized to help you plan everything out, but not every day is going to be the same. Give what you can, and know when you need to ease back some.
Strength In Unity: Harnessing Community Support
One of the best ways to improve your physical and mental health at the same time is to find a community of like-minded people to spend time with! There’s plenty of different examples on how you can do this.
An easy way to start integrating yourself into a community in the health and fitness sphere is to join a group fitness class. You’ll be surrounded by other people with similar goals and interests right off the bat. If group fitness isn’t your vibe, it can be as easy as going to the gym with a friend, or even just going for a walk around campus.
As far as mental health goes, having a community has been statistically proven to improve feelings of well-being and belonging. Group therapy can be great for this, but if you’re not totally comfortable with sharing your thoughts and feelings with people, try joining a club or group on campus. Again, similar interests make easy ice-breakers.
It can be difficult to prioritize yourself, especially when it comes to your physical and mental health, but there are small and actionable steps you can take to improve. Just take it one day at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be living a whole new healthy lifestyle!
Did you know students might be able to take five days of mental health leave soon? Check out what’s going on with the groundbreaking legislation.