What is the definition of a healthy habit?
Simply stated, a healthy habit is any regularly occurring behavior that is good for your mental or physical health. Online research reports that there are several important and universal healthy habits. They appear repeatedly in the mental and physical health literature. These habits are important for your first year of college, and for years after, as they set you up for success not only now but into the future. Learning a good system in advance of the school year will help you focus on studying and making friends. The outcome of these habits will leave you feeling more in control of your new life at college.
What are these important healthy habits?
Experts widely consider exercise, good nutrition, relaxation and sleep crucial to healthy living. While these so-called “four pillars” of good health keep your body running, they also do wonders for your emotional wellbeing. In other words, it’s good to work out more (exercise), eat better (nutrition), cut down on stress (relaxation) and go to bed earlier (sleep).
These pillars are key to good health. It’s important to pay attention to each component because ignoring one could impact your ability to sustain the others. Eating heavily processed, high sugar foods, for example, can cause you to feel sluggish, slow, and heavy. This makes it harder to stay active and feel energized. It may be harder to fall asleep at night because of stress and feeling tense about something that happened earlier that day. These four components need to stay in balance to maintain a healthy set of habits for the rest of your life.
Nutrition is key in the healthy habits equation. Healthful nutrition keeps the gut feeling good because it promotes good gut bacteria. In turn, these bacteria send “feel good” sensations to the brain. It’s important to focus on fruits and vegetables and maintain a diet that includes five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. These foods make a difference in the way you feel. Swap out less healthful versions for ones that improve your health. You will feel a big difference.
Exercise is crucial in the four pillars of health. Aim for thirty minutes a day of exercise, which can include walking, running, aerobic exercises, weight training and yoga or Pilates. All are good activities to consider when looking for ways to stay healthy. Moving your muscles produces endorphins and a chemical that helps the brain deal with stress. Doing activities like yoga also helps with relaxation and good mental health.
To the college student, this component is key. Mentally unwinding after a busy day can help reduce stress and anxiety as well as increase energy and focus. This is important to college students who are required to perform well under stress. Examples include reducing stress prior to exams. Another way to increase relaxation is to practice deep breathing exercises. Aim for ten to twenty minutes of focused breathing each day. The impact will be tremendous on your ability to relax. Try it, it really works!
Sleep is another important factor in getting through the college years. A good night’s sleep helps lower stress, improve concentration, and boost emotional stamina. An important rule is to put away electronic devices an hour before bedtime. The light from these devices can affect your internal clock which can become confused in the process.
How Does School Affect Your Sleep Cycle?
In college, a person’s sleep cycle can be influenced by several things. If a student shares a room in a dorm, one person may be a night owl, and the other gets up early in the morning. How can these two different styles exist simultaneously in the same room? Great roommates can add a lot of fun to the college experience. But it can also mean trouble sleeping if roommates are noisy or on a different schedule than you. Be open and honest with roommates about your efforts to improve your sleep. Set up some “house rules” on loud music or groups of guests past a certain hour. Using this method of communication should help to establish boundaries and ground rules before sleeping schedules become an issue.
Dorm Deck Life Hacks
Dorm Deck, produced by The Uncluttered Life, Inc., offers a card deck full of life hacks for dorm room living. These hacks help to make college a better experience right from the start of the first semester. While some hacks are based on having a fun and enjoyable time with friends and roommates, others suggest setting up systems to make your year more effective and less stressful. The deck consists of 52 prompt cards that offer tips and suggestions for a happy and healthy school year.
A Great Gift for First Year College Students
Give a gift to a friend before going away to school. Do the deck together if you're attending the same college. Or give one to a friend who will be far from you and do it together from a distance.
A Great Going Away Gift
Send a deck as a going away gift to a niece or nephew who is going to college for the first time.
Ask Mom or Dad to Purchase a Deck for You
Or pick up a deck for yourself. Even better, suggest your mom or dad get one for you. With the deck in hand, conversations home can be about what you’re learning or loving, and less about how to handle the transition to college. Think of it as a trusted adviser for these transitional years. Each deck sells for $19.95 and is available on this website.