A Healthier, Wealthier (maybe), Wiser You

I'd like to start with a little disclaimer: I am not a professional nutritionist, psychologist, doctor, etc. These are just some little tips and tidbits that I've found useful throughout my first year here at IU for staying healthy, happy, and on track for creating a lifestyle I can enjoy!

Occasionally, college is going to be stressful--this is an unavoidable fact that at some point you will need to accept. And if you don't make your physical and mental health a priority you are increasing your chances for developing a lot of bad habits that could potentially lead to unhealthy changes in your life.

So here we go:

Know your limits.
Balance your class schedule so you won't be overwhelmed by the amount of time you spend in the classroom, with an outrageous workload, etc. You need enough of an academic challenge to keep yourself heading toward your degree, but you don't want to burn yourself out from one heavy semester.

Take care of your body.
Try to eat well--it's relatively easy on campus if you avoid mindless snacking, eat when you're hungry but don't overdo it, make sure you're getting a variety of nutrients and not eating the same thing all the time, and drink lots of water! I've realized that I get dehydrated really easily and I'm more likely to feel hungry when I'm actually just really thirsty! Sugary, carbonated beverages are great every once in a while, but they don't do anything to hydrate you, so bring a water bottle with you to class instead.

Try to exercise regularly--visit the HPER or SRSC for group exercise classes or individual workouts, take a HPER class with a friend, walk to class! Staying active will give you the energy to conquer everything you need to do, keeps you physically fit, and makes you happier (hello endorphins)! It's great if you can make a habit out of hitting the gym instead of playing video games in your dorm room...

Try to keep an eye on your mental health status--I know people aren't usually comfortable discussing how they feel with other people, but it's really important for you to be in a good mental state. It's hard to focus on classes or friends if you are anxious or depressed. IU offers CAPS: Counseling and Psychological Services and with your IU Health Fee you are given two free sessions with a qualified counselor per semester, and after that each session is only $20 (much less expensive than it would be anywhere else!). IU Health Center's counselors are really understanding and will help you as best as they can so you feel better and are able to do what you do best!

Try not to get sick--Being sick is awful. And when you are around so many people every day, especially if you life in a dorm, it's really easy to catch someone else's bug. Last semester I had a cold that turned into bronchitis and I didn't go to the Health Center for two weeks because I was sure my "little" cough would go away! I would've been back on my feet much faster if I hadn't been so stubborn about going to see a doctor or nurse practitioner.

A great way to take care of this whole "checklist" for your body is to get enough rest! If you can't get 7-8 hours of sleep every night then you should try to take 10-30 minute nap during the early afternoon. You will feel much more relaxed, refreshed, and have energy to finish everything else!

Socialize and Get Involved in Something That Interests You.
IU is such a big and diverse campus and with so many students to connect with, you are bound to make friends that you'll have for the rest of your life. It's so much easier to get through the ups and downs that college stress might bring if you develop a strong support network of friends who care about you! Keep your door open during Welcome Week, introduce yourself to at least one person sitting near you in a class (study buddies are the best!), go to the Student Involvement Fair, and attend at least one call out meeting for a student organization that catches your eye. From the Student Involvement Fair, I ended up joining a volunteer group called Movement Exchange and  was able to travel to Panama over winter break. I never would have had that amazing experience if I hadn't taken the initiative to meet people with similar interests and become part of a group that I would enjoy.

With the freedom of college comes responsibility and daily stresses that you may not have had to think about in the past. So it's your job to take charge of your college experience and make your life infinitely better by caring for you mind and body as well as doing something you are passionate about with other people!

So much advice, and my experiences/tips might be completely different from another person's! The point is to make college the most enjoyable experience as possible, while staying healthy and preparing yourself for the next chapters of your life. Good luck!

About The Author
Lindsay StoneIU Class of 2015

IU sophomore studying speech and hearing sciences and psychology. Movement Exchange at IU marketing director, PALS therapeutic riding volunteer, VIDA Spanish theater participant, and club member of the IU Equestrian Team. Future speech-language pathologist.