Your health should be a priority, but it can be easy to neglect when life gets busy. The temptation to let healthy habits slide is understandable, but this will ultimately only make it more difficult to achieve the ambitious goals that currently have you running on empty. Make yourself a priority by implementing these wellness tips for students—both campus-based and online. You’ll thank yourself later.
1. Wash Your Hands Correctly
Few health tips for students are repeated as often and followed as rarely as hand-washing. The public understood the importance of lathering up long before this strategy took center stage as a central tenet of coronavirus mitigation. Despite this widespread knowledge, many of us neglect to follow through when the experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) insist that hand-washing is needed most: before eating, after using the restroom, and after sneezing or coughing.
Among those who actually bother to wash their hands on a regular basis, few dedicate enough time to ensure that this regimen actually makes an impact. A quick splash of water won’t work. Commit to singing the happy birthday song or adopting whatever trick forces you to continue scrubbing for the recommended twenty seconds.
2. Adopt a Strict Dental Routine
Little impresses others quite like a bright smile. Not only do those pearly whites help you look and feel your best, they can hold huge implications for your overall health. As the official entry point for both your digestive and cardiovascular systems, your mouth can harbor bacteria, which, in turn, could make you susceptible to a variety of illnesses.
The essential elements of oral hygiene are well-understood: brush and floss your teeth every day—and limit sugar intake.
Build brushing and flossing into your daily routine to ensure that they’re completed before you leave your home in the morning and before you go to bed at night. If you need an extra incentive, brush while watching two minutes’ worth of YouTube or TikTok videos.
Depending on your social circle, your time with friends can be helpful or harmful. Some friends encourage healthy habits, while others may convince you to eat out too often or take on other less-than-desirable behaviors. In general, however, you’ll benefit from maintaining strong friendships and a rich social circle.
Research highlighted by the National Institute on Aging links isolation and loneliness to a variety of health concerns, including depression, cognitive decline, and even heart disease. It’s never easy to make friends as an adult, but hobby clubs, sports teams, and other recreational pursuits can help.
4. Drink More Water
Water serves many important functions. It cushions your joints, carries waste away from your body, and promotes healthy digestion. Despite this, most people are chronically dehydrated at least to some extent.
While standard advice calls for eight glasses of water a day, your needs may vary based on your medications or exercise regimen. Assess your progress based on how often you feel thirsty—and whether your urine is yellow or clear.
Get in the habit of carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go. This will encourage you to take small sips throughout the day. You can also set reminders on your phone or even download a dedicated water drinking app to help you maintain your intake.
5. Avoid Processed Foods
Check the ingredients list on the label of your favorite snack. Those chips, cookies, and even granola bars likely include a plethora of preservatives, artificial food coloring, and all kinds of other unsavory ingredients that harm your health. These foods rarely satisfy you in the long-run, nor do they provide the full range of nutrients you require.
Don’t be fooled by labels claiming that processed foods are healthy because they lack gluten or because they’re fortified with vitamins. The old adage about shopping the grocery store’s perimeter definitely applies. If you struggle to reach for veggies instead of French fries, stock your home with easy-to-eat snacks that you actually enjoy. As you increase your produce intake, you’ll find that you feel more energetic throughout the day.
6. Fix Your Posture
Take a moment right now to assess your posture. Are you sitting up straight? Or are you slouched over your computer or smartphone? If you regularly suffer aches and pains, your posture could be a chief culprit. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to fix.
Keep your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Use smartphone alarms or Post-it notes to remind yourself, if necessary. If you’re still struggling, yoga could help, as can an ergonomic chair.
7. Fix Your Sleep Environment
Healthy sleep impacts your mental health, cognitive abilities, and physical performance. Despite this, one in three American adults fails to get enough shut-eye, as evidenced in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Is your living space designed to promote a sound night of sleep? Proper lighting and sound-proofing can make a huge difference, as can reduced exposure to blue light from electronics. Avoid keeping a TV in your bedroom. If possible, use a traditional alarm clock instead of your cell phone. This will reduce the temptation to browse Instagram for hours instead of getting much-needed sleep.
8. Take a Break
Whether you’re studying, working, or running errands, it’s important to hit the reset button from time to time. Even a five-minute break can do wonders for your well being.
For the greatest health impact, take this opportunity to get out of your seat and move around. Students and white-collar workers spend far too much time sitting, but short bursts of movement can mitigate the negative effects of our modern sedentary lifestyle.
In an ideal world, everybody would visit the gym for strength-training and HIIT exercise on a regular basis. In reality, however, we’re often too busy, tired, or unmotivated to pursue intense exercise. Thankfully, several options exist for integrating physical activity into our daily lives. Walking is easily the simplest and most accessible method.
If you’re struggling to implement an effective exercise regimen, don’t be afraid to start small. To begin, park your car further away from your classroom or office. Better yet, walk to class whenever possible. (If you’re an online student, let an upcoming study session or class be the jolt you need take a quick walk around the block.) Instead of spending lunch at your desk or with your smartphone, take a relaxed stroll.
These brief walking sessions add up, as do other short bursts of movement. If you need additional motivation, use a Fitbit or step-counting app to track your activity. Aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.
From diets to exercise challenges, we go to great lengths to level up our physical health. Meanwhile, we often neglect our mental health. This can lead to diminishing returns for physical efforts, as stress has a discernible impact on everything from our waistlines to immune function.
While a variety of mental health tips for students can be called upon, meditation remains one of the most effective means of handling stress. A 2019 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology highlights meditation as a top strategy for increasing mindfulness. This, in turn, can mediate issues such as worry and rumination, ultimately reducing the risk of clinical depression.
Self-care is a hot topic these days, but it doesn’t merely reference massages and bubble baths. Rather, this concept can play a key role in our understanding of how to maintain good health for students. When we view this as an opportunity rather than a chore, we’re more likely to follow through.
Healthy habits might seem like hard work, but they represent the ultimate form of self-care. A few small changes could have you on the road to true vitality, so don’t hesitate to make health a priority.