Originally published September 29 2008
Four Ways to Survive College Healthfully
by E.L. West
(NaturalNews) As a new school year is upon us, thousands of students have entered this nation's higher education institutions full of hope. Bright-eyed freshmen pace the halls, full of the anticipation of a new beginning and a new start. Indeed, this is a new start for many. Many are leaving home for the first time, and many are faced with important decisions that for the first time they are going to have to make on their own. This article will deal with 4 ways to cope with the new surroundings of the college scene and how to use this time as an opportunity to build healthy habits.
College is fun, enjoyable, and exciting; however, all of that excitement can be easily dwarfed by the
mounds of school bills, ever-increasing textbook prices, pressure to do well, and the strain of new surroundings. All of those factors can quickly turn a new and exciting time into a nightmarish, depressing situation where the student feels trapped under the weight of these incredible stresses.
To make college life easier, regular exercise is a must, particularly to keep excessive stress away. If stress is allowed to foster, it can result in not only poor grades, but also a poor quality of life. Exercise serves as an excellent stress reliever, an outlet to help the student cope with loneliness, stress of exams and bills, and help the student deal with problems in a positive, uplifting way. It not only keeps you mentally prepared for school, it also can help students keep the legendary freshmen fifteen at bay.
If stress overcomes the student, bad habits that may carry on for the rest of their lives may form. Excessive eating, not enough exercise, dwelling on negative thoughts, these negative things will definitely turn the bright-eyed into unhealthy cynics.
Sleep is so important to the college student, yet most college students do not sleep enough. Earlier this year, a study was reported on Science Daily that the sleep patterns of college students may be detrimental to their health.
Proper sleep should be 8 to 10 hours a night, ideally in complete darkness. Such a sleep pattern should be maintained every day not just on weekends. Also, sleeping for example 5 or 6 hours a night during the week, and then 12 hours on weekends disrupts the Circadian Rhythm, a body system that regulates processes such as when one should eat, sleep, etc. Ignoring and disrupting this system will surely result in potentially serious health problems.
Sleep is a time when the brain is restored, where valuable information (this is especially important for college students) is learned and stored, and where the body is rested. College is not the time to cheat yourself of such precious sleep time. Students who do not sleep properly will be robbed of their youth, grades, and ultimately their happiness. Some may say, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," but what they don't realize is that if they don't sleep, they will find themselves six feet under, getting the kind of rest you don't wake up from!
Eating well, this is probably the most problematic part of the college experience. It is so difficult to eat healthfully when in college, probably because most college students are heavily stressed and sleep deprived. It is especially difficult because on just about every corner you can find some fast-food place that is ever-eager to serve their unnatural, unsafe, and unwholesome "foods," leading to overweight and depressed students.
Fortunately, there is also an abundance of stores and restaurants that serve natural and organic meals. Co-ops, farmers' markets, and produce stands, these kinds of places are pretty common around the college scene, making eating healthily a not-too-difficult task.
Eating well includes eating lots of raw, organic vegetables and fruits, organic grains and dairy, and eating a balanced diet. If every student ate well, there would be no legendary freshman fifteen.
Journaling during the college years, or at any time for that matter, is a great stress reducer and a great way to record all the important moments during the experience, helping to solidify these experiences for future reference.
Journaling also provides a way to improve creativity, a way to help solve difficult problems, helps to put relationships in perspective, and many other wonderful things. Without self-reflection, many of the answers to life's problems will seem elusive, but with journaling, these kinds of problems can be put into perspective.
The college experience is only as difficult as the student makes it. If the student gets proper sleep, keeps stress-free, journals, and eats well, a happy and pleasant school year is sure to be.
About the authorEmily West is a freelance writer that focuses on topics of natural health and sustainable food production systems. She also maintains a blog, The Wordsmith, at www.journeyoutofrabbithole.wordpress.com
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