There isn’t a handbook big enough to tell freshmen how to lead healthy college lifestyles! But I have a few tricks that worked for me when I was a freshman and I think they may help you out too.
Don’t be overly concerned with the “Freshman 15”
Sure, there is a possibility that you will gain some weight during college, but there isn’t a universal amount of weight that everyone gains. So instead of fixating on a number on the scale, point your attention to the health behaviors you can control, such as how much you exercise. Try to take steps to avoiding unhealthy drinking behaviors, which are commonplace in college. And listen to your body: when it’s tired, let it sleep, and when it’s hungry, let it eat!
Do go try out the group fitness class!
Group fitness is perfect if you want to get to the gym and don’t know exactly how to start a fitness regime. I went to fitness classes almost every week with my freshman hall, and coincidently now I am a group fitness instructor! Whatever your motivation to exercise is, don’t forget about group fitness. The classes offer a range of flexibility, strengthening and cardio classes. From Zumba, Body Pump, or a Zen Restorative Yoga class, the options, depending on your school’s recreation center, offer something for everyone. Exercise has been proven to be an excellent de-stressor as well. Lastly, group fitness is an effective way of making new friends as you’re getting into the swing of college life. So try out a class, have fun and release those endorphins!
Develop a gym routine.
If group fitness is not your thing, or you enjoy working out alone than the gym equipment should become your new best friend! In addition most college campuses have personal training programs that can assign you a personal trainer that can teach you how to use the gym, equipment and help you design a workout plan just for you. However, your world should not revolve around what your body looks like. Instead focus on living a life that feels good, on the inside. Turn your attention to all of the things you can do rather than what you think you cannot do.
Talk about your emotions.
Everyone wants to lead perfect lives and hide their true emotions. This is called emotional perfectionism, when a person feels that their feelings should always be rational and that the emotions of sadness and fear exhibit weakness. But in all truth every college student, regardless of his or her year, has something that there probably struggling. College is a rollercoaster ride, and obstacles, be they medical, spiritual, financial, or social, can appear from time to time. But what you can control is how you react to these situations. It is a healthy to discuss what is troubling you, because keeping emotions bottled up inside increases stress, anxiety and put unnecessary strain on your health. That’s why it’s so important to know when you need to talk with someone and finding a support system to share your feelings with.
The mind needs breaks too! Allocate time outside of your academic schedule to pursue things that you like to do. If baking de-stresses you, bake up a storm! Studying non-stop during college is not the answer. Ignore the hype of how much others study, because what others are saying it probably untrue anyways. Instead, figure out a study and leisure time plan that works just for you.
Go to sleep.
You may think it is completely awesome to stay up all hours of the night. But the feeling that you will have the following morning will not be nearly as awesome. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for teenagers, and 7-9 hours of sleep for 18-25 year olds. Sleep is essential to recharge your body and keep your immune system working up to speed.
Love who you are, and who you will grow to become during college.
It can be easy to fall into the social comparison trap in today’s society, as everyone is posting what he or she has or did, online. And there will be times where you just want to fit in with everyone else. But don’t fit in, stand out! Always remember to love your individual strengths and unique qualities: they are what makes you YOU. And there is only one you for a reason. At the same time, don’t be afraid to embrace the personal growth and changes you may experience during college. You are destined to change both on the outside and inside, and this is a good thing. Besides, being normal is overrated!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help:
Sometimes freshmen don’t ask for help because they think they should be completely stable, and thus they assume that every other freshman is perfectly stable. This is a false consensus effect, a psychological belief phenomenon that’s very prevalent among the teen and young adult communities. We always think we should behave as others do. But there is a reason why it is false, because other people are probably dealing with their own struggles too. So if you are unsure about anything academic, don’t be afraid to ask the professor or advisor. They are there to help you succeed. If you have a health issue, talk to the staff at the student health center. And for emotional concerns most schools have counseling centers set up for this exact reason. And of course, upperclassmen are also a rich resource for common college questions.
Have your own tips for keeping healthy in college? Leave them in the comments section below!
By: Chelsea Dade, AiT Contributor
Niederhoffer, K. G., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2012). Sharing One’s Story: On the Benefits of Writing or Talking About Emotional Experience. In The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, (2 Ed.). Oxford University Press.
Teens and Sleep | National Sleep Foundation – Information on Sleep Health and Safety. National Sleep Foundation – Information on Sleep Health and Safety |. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.