Mental and physical health are both extremely serious things, and they should not be overlooked. So, amid class, homework, meetings and a social life, make sure that you take care of yourself. The sooner you begin to develop healthy living habits, the easier it will be to stay healthy throughout life.

Here are 12 tips for college students to stay healthy both physically and mentally:

1. Journal.

Journaling is one of the best mental exercises. The idea of a journal is up to your own interpretation. You can use your journal as a form of meditation and self-reflection, writing positive inspirations, answering questionnaires and making fun lists about yourself. You can also use the journal as a confidant and a way to talk out problems and ideas that you’re not prepared to share with others at the moment.

2. Walk the extra mile— literally.

Whether you go to the gym and use the treadmill or just walk around campus, take a few minutes of your day to walk a mile or two. At a slow pace, it should only take you about 10 -15 minutes to walk a mile. Put on some comfy clothes, grab a friend or some music and just walk. Your body will thank you.

3. Take the steps.

As simple as it may sound, take the stairs to get to your dorm or class, rather than the elevator. In the time that you take to wait for the elevator, you could probably be halfway to your destination.

4. Take vitamins.

Your diet changes in college, and so may your nutrition. Make sure your body is staying nourished by taking daily multivitamins or concentrated vitamins.

5. Talk to someone every day.

You may ask your professor a question, participate in a peer review in class, order a doughnut at the coffee shop or awkwardly say “hello” to someone you pass on your way to class. However, in none of those instances did you truly talk to someone. Truly talking takes more than a minute, nor is it forced or for a personal gain.

Make sure you are truly talking to someone daily. It doesn’t have to be the same person each day, but it should be someone you can be yourself around. This is very important to eliminate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Stay connected because as humans, we’re better together.

6. Take advantage of fitness classes in the gym.

From yoga to soul cycling to kickboxing, your school’s gym might offer free fitness classes. Find the right class for you, and fit the one hour class into your schedule.

7. Stay rested.

College students aren't exactly infamous for their early bedtimes and 8 hours of sleep, but getting sleep is an integral part of staying healthy. Staying rested gives your mind the break it needs to refresh so that it is not overworking itself. Your body needs the time to rejuvenate and regroup to keep you healthy and alert. Take naps and sleep long— doctor's orders.

8. Stick to a schedule.

Keep a calendar, planner, app or whatever keeps you organized to make a schedule for your semester, and stick to it. List everything from classes, homework, club meetings, work and more so that you can properly account time for each one. You don’t have to plan out every minute of the day, but planning your time and knowing your schedule will keep your body aware and prepared, while also keeping your mind from stressing out and overworking each day.

9. Avoid binging.

Whether it be binge drinking, eating or watching, avoid it. As a college student, you have this new found freedom to do whatever you want, but don’t abuse that freedom.

But, if you must, “Binge on the things that bring fulfillment and happiness and satisfaction and make you feel alive. Binge on people who fascinate you and love that wakes you up from monotony. Binge on exploring, both your hometown and the farthest continent. Binge on the time you spend bettering yourself and petting dogs. Binge on picking your grandma’s brain and learning the story of the time she got catfished. Binge on giving, in all senses.” —Tyler Oakley, Binge

10. Take breaks.

College students are often told this fallacy that every schedule will begin at 8 a.m., every night will be an all-nighter and every weekend will be full of projects due on Monday. True, there will be days like that, but more often then not, you will have free time in between class, at night and on the weekend. Don’t feel obligated to work yourself to death because you will miss out on so many opportunities, lose the quality of the college experience and ultimately push yourself into a depressing state of isolation. It only takes a few minutes out of your day to relax and maintain your mental health and happiness.

11. Surround yourself with positive influences.

The best relationships make you better; they push you to be your best self, help you when you struggle, accept you for all that you are and support you to do in everything. Do not surround yourself with “friends” who use you, bring negativity to you and pressure you into things you would not and do not want to do. Instead, find a genuine friend who will lift you up, rather than bring you down.

12. Ask for help.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Many students go to college with the misconception that from then on, they are on their own. The truth is there are so many resources that students can utilize. If you’re struggling with classes, take advantage of free student tutoring, writing services and professor office hours. If you’re struggling with mental health, many schools offer free student counseling services, mentoring programs and more. The most simple of all is to talk to your friends and family, as they know you best and want nothing more than to be there for you.

Only you know what’s right for you, so you are responsible for making the decisions and effort to maintain your physical and mental health. Take this step into adulting, and your mind and body will thank you.  

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