4 tips for making your college experience a happy one

Regular exercise is a key component of staying healthy while in college.Earning a diploma and preparing yourself for a professional career are generally considered the two most important aspects of the college experience. At the same time, though, you’re going to want to make sure your time in school is happy and personally satisfying. Here are a few tips you’ll want to follow In order to balance the rigors of schoolwork and your emotional well-being while you’re in college:

Stick to a balanced diet

One of the most notorious pitfalls of going to college is gaining the “Freshman 15,” so-called because many first year students put on weight when they are out on their own for the first time and making diet decisions without parental input. Gaining weight can be bad for your self-image, but more importantly, a lousy diet can make you feel sluggish, hurt your concentration level and lead to an overall lack of physical and emotional vigor.1 Be aware of the food you eat. It’s likely you’re going to pig out on some late-night pizza at some point, so be sure to balance those binges with healthier fare at other times.

Exercise regularly

Physical health often translates into mental and emotional health.2 If your body is active, it’s more likely your brain will be too. As you plan out your class, study and work schedules, be sure to pencil in some time at the gym. Usually, all you’ll need is three or four days of approximately hour-long workouts to stay in shape. And that’s something most people can find time for while they’re in school.

Know your internal clock

If you are a notoriously late riser, don’t try to challenge yourself by scheduling early morning classes. At least initially, going against your internal clock is more likely to be counterproductive than transformative. However, as you progress in your academic career, you may want to start adding some earlier classes in order to prepare yourself for life outside of school. For instance, if you’re in a medical billing program or taking veterinary technician classes, it’s likely that your future employer will want you to work more of a 9-to-5 schedule. Slowly start working your way into that mindset.

Take advantage of your school’s resources

Between school, a job, family and other responsibilities, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re in college. Instead of panicking, consult your professors, use the school’s tutoring options, meet or communicate with an advisor or look into any other service that might be able to help reduce your burden. 1 Sarkis, Dr. Stephanie, “50 Tips for College Students,” Psychology Today, Aug. 23, 2010. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201008/50-tips-college-students 2 Berg, Dr. Peter, “Avoiding Back-to-School Illness and the Freshman 15,” inspiredhealthandhappinessblog.com, Oct. 14, 2013. http://inspiredhealthandhappinessblog.com/2013/10/avoiding-back-to-school-illness-the-freshman-15/

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