This blog post is focused on wellness for college students. We will talk about the challenges college students face and then tips to focus on health and wellness while at college.

They say that college is some of the best years of your life, however there are many difficulties associated with being a college student that not many people discuss. Many college students can face struggles not only academically and socially, but can also experience challenges mentally and physically. There are adjustments of schedules, changes in sleep routine, more socializing, and balancing a course load on top of all these changes. It can be very difficult as an incoming freshman to move to a new area and adjust to a completely new lifestyle. It can become challenging to balance so many different aspects of your new college life.

On top of all the changes that college brings, students have to adjust to caring for their mental and physical health and wellness.  For the first time many students are faced with unfamiliar decisions. For example, for so many students, college is the first time they are on their own to decide what to eat and buy. Prior to this, many students relied on their parents to cook meals and supply the home with groceries for them. Some students don’t know where to start when it comes to cooking for themselves and buying the necessary groceries. It can also be challenging to include self care activities and even times for rest. Students have a lot to balance on top of school work, a potential job, and social activities. The overwhelm of all of the things to manage can potentially lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. Here are some tips to help you focus on your mental and physical wellbeing while juggling the many responsibilities of a college student. We hope that you will take away some wellness tips that you can implement in your day.  

Wellness Tips For College Students

1. Create a list of meals that you enjoy that can be easily prepared if you’re in a pinch for time. If you’re struggling for ideas then ask a family member or a friend who has been living on their own for a while. They’re bound to have some go-to meal ideas they recommend. For those who maintain jobs while in school or simply just don’t have much time to spend cooking, meal prepping can be helpful. Also, do not be afraid of frozen meals or items you can easily microwave. Keep things that you can quickly heat in the microwave when you are in a pinch for time or just wanting something simple. 

2. Before you go grocery shopping, write out a list of meals you plan to have throughout the week and then break it down into ingredients to put into a grocery list. This way you can make your trip to the grocery store more effective and less time consuming.

3. It can be helpful to have snacks in your dorm or apartment that you can pack in your bag for class or eat in between meals. Try to include foods that have protein in them in order to satisfy your body for longer. You do not want to go a long period of time without eating, and at college time can fly by very quickly. An example of a quick, easy, and convenient snack is a protein bar. When you pack your bag for class you can simply throw this in to have in between classes.  

4. It’s important to enjoy your fitness routine. Exercise should not be a punishment of any sort. You want exercise to be a way to take care of your body. It also is a way that can help you de-stress. Additionally, exercise can help improve your mood. You want to move your body because you love it and want to respect it, not to punish it. 

5. Remind yourself that walking is exercise. We can get into a mindset that in order to exercise we need to go to the gym or take a group fitness class. If you are a college student, you are likely moving your body much more than you are used to. Think about all the movement you get in just walking to class. Remind yourself that walking is exercise. If you get very busy and are not able to make it to the gym as you planned, it can be helpful to remind yourself of this. Also, if you walk outside your able to get sunshine and movement in which can be helpful for mental health.

6.  We need to prioritize our sleep. You are so busy that sometimes sleep gets the last priority, but getting an adequate night’s rest is so important in many aspects. It helps with your studies, helps your mood, and helps your stress level. Sleep is one of the key pillars to mental health as well as physical health.

7. For many students college can bring more noise and light that gets into your bedroom than you are used to. You can download a white noise machine on your phone to help block outside noise. An eye mask can also help with the light. An ideal sleep environment is one that is dark and stays dark, and is quiet and stays quiet throughout the time you are sleeping.

8. Remind yourself that you are allowed to rest. There is this idea that students should always be doing something. If you are not studying you should be socializing or doing something that adds to your resume. Rest is productive and so helpful for mental and physical wellness. Our bodies need rest days from exercise, and our minds need rest. Give yourself permission to rest and take breaks.

9. Know that it is ok to ask for help and support. There is so much to balance in college and a lot of changes and unfamiliar experiences. You do not have to go through it alone. At Best Within You Therapy & Wellness our psychologists are here to support your mental health and wellness as you navigate college. The psychologists at the practice have significant experience working with college and graduate students. You are welcome to reach out to schedule a  therapy appointment. We provide therapy for anxiety as well as therapy for depression and treatment for eating disorders.

This wellness for college students blog post was written by Dr. Rebecca Leslie and Marcella Peach. Marcella is interning for Best Within You Therapy & Wellness and is a college student at the University of Georgia.