Taking care of your mind and body is EXTREMELY important. Eating right, thinking positively, and exercising are only a few ways that you can take care of yourself. Julia Dellitt, author of SELF-CARE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS, shares some easy ways to practice self-care.
#1. Prep Healthy Snacks on the Go
Keeping up a healthy diet when your schedule is so jam-packed is challenging—and all of those snacks from the vending machine, drivethrough orders, and late-night pizza deliveries add up. Whether you are racing out the door, sans breakfast, to make it to class on time, or staying late at the library to finish a report, healthy snacks can tide you over until you have time for a sit-down meal, and will also curb the junk food temptations. They can also be the perfect energy boost before an exam or after a long lecture. Always keep a snack or two on hand wherever you go. Pick snacks based on what’s filling, mostly all-natural, and ready to take on the go. Some great snacks include trail mix with nuts and dried fruit, washed and cut fresh fruit, single-serving cheese with whole grain crackers or pretzels, smoothies, low-sugar protein or granola bars, Greek yogurt, carrots and hummus, applesauce, and veggie chips. You can throw these in your backpack, purse, or the back seat of your car, or keep them in a small dorm room refrigerator, or in your desk drawer.
#2. Stand More
Sitting is the new smoking, experts say, and it is no exception in school. Even if you exercise daily, you’re most likely sitting down quite a bit: in your dorm room to do some reading, in the library to study for a test, in the cafeteria to eat, in a lecture hall during class. And with all of this in mind, you might wonder how you can possibly sit less—but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Just aim to sit a little less and move a little more. For example, build a healthy habit of getting up and walking around for 5 minutes every half hour you stay seated at the library, or stand for 20 minutes after an hour-long lecture. You can also stand while you make a phone call or type an email, walk around your apartment while reading a textbook, stroll building hallways in between classes, or even see if your school has standing desks available for use. Try setting a timer on your phone as a reminder to get up and move.
#3. Opt for Less Sugar
Orange juice, vanilla lattes, energy drinks, sweet teas, lemonade—yum, right? Of course…so long as you don’t have all of them, every single day! Too many drinks with added sugar or artificial sweetener can cause weight gain, increased risk of diabetes, and higher potential for heart disease over time. Unfortunately, these types of drinks are everywhere you turn—vending machines, dining hall dispensers, your dorm common room—and you’re more likely to lean on them for an energy boost when the post-chem lab slump hits. The next time you start to reach for a sugary beverage, choose still or sparkling water, or a drink sweetened with stevia, instead. Work toward making these changes whenever you can. Then, on the days when you really need a lift, you want a reward for finishing a challenging assignment, or you are simply craving the taste of a certain sweet drink, you can treat yourself without the guilt.
#4. Soak Up the Sun
For all the emphasis on sun protection (which is important), you still want to get a good dose of vitamin D every day. A by-product of the sun’s rays, vitamin D is associated with an improved mood, better sleep, lower blood pressure, and stronger bones. Now, that doesn’t mean you should go lie on a grassy hill with tanning oil and no sunscreen on the next time you are in the mood for an outdoor study sesh; getting just 10–20 minutes of sun exposure is enough to benefit—especially when the sun hits your shoulders, arms, and legs. If you suffer from a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, ask your doctor if extra sunlight may also help minimize symptoms. And for those struggling with stress or seasonal depression (often known as seasonal affective disorder), sunshine can be especially helpful in easing stress and lifting your mood. Some research even indicates that sunshine can help students perform better on tests—a fantastic reason to get outside before your next exam!
Find out more self-care techniques in SELF-CARE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS!
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Excerpted from Self-Care for College Students by Julia Dellitt. Copyright © 2019 by author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.