The iconic party lifestyle of college may not have you thinking much about staying healthy, but you will want to make a plan for your health so that you avoid the harsh realities of school-day hangovers and the dreaded “Freshman 15.” If you’re like most students, college is the first time that you’ve been in charge of your own health, so you might be overwhelmed with this added responsibility of campus life—especially with the temptation of eating ice cream for dinner every night and attending every party on campus. Here’s a look at the ways that you can be a little more responsible with your health decisions while getting the complete college experience.
Never skip breakfast (or other meals)
It’s tempting to skip meals when you get wrapped up in a hectic schedule of classes and social events, but you should avoid this habit, which could lead to binge eating later on. Even if you only have time for an energy bar or piece of fruit before class, it is definitely better than nothing. Alternatively, if you plan on splurging with late night burritos or a midnight burger run, have a light but fiber-rich dinner early in the evening like a salad to balance things out.
Stay physically active
Weight gain is a very real problem for college students, and it is largely attributed to heavy drinking paired with a more sedentary lifestyle. While it can be hard to find the time to work out every day, you can find some physical activity by walking or biking to class, organizing outdoor trips on the weekends, and stopping by the campus rec center during longer breaks between classes.
Make sleep a priority
Good health begins with a good night’s sleep. If you are not getting enough sleep at night or you are relying on your boring lecture classes to help you get some shut-eye during the day, it’s easy to harbor a dependence on junk food and super-caffeinated drinks to function.
Be realistic about the party lifestyle
Telling a college student not to drink and unwind at weekend parties is likely to get nowhere, but it is wise to ease up on the alcoholic refreshments when you go out. Drinking in moderation can not only save you from some embarrassing stories, but it will also keep you out of hangover misery in the morning.
Play it safe with your sexual health
Finals aren’t the only tests you should be worried about in college. As you build more intimate interpersonal relationships, you will want to have regular STD screenings and use various means of birth control to stay safe.
Keep your parents involved
You will have more distance from your parents in college, but remember that they are probably still funding your health insurance and have their own concerns about your wellness. Your parents will be there to listen and help you make important decisions, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and ask for advice when you need it.
Tap into campus resources
As you get to know your new school, make sure that you’ve paid a visit to campus health to learn about the services they offer. If you ever get sick or want to get a flu shot so sickness doesn’t sidetrack you during finals, campus health will be a great resource for you.
Savvy students can also utilize MeMD’s offering of online medical exams for low-acuity health needs (think – cold, sinus infections, UTIs, medication refills) and for second opinions or medical advice if they feel too embarrassed to go to campus health.