Photo by Tanner Van Dera on Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/oaQ2mTeaP7o
University/college is stressful; there’s a mountain of homework, assignments, projects and tests on top of the challenges with growing into a fully-fledged adult. This mountain though, can only be conquered when our brains are at their best. To keep our brains in shape, we have to make sure that our body is in shape as well. Regular exercise and healthy living can potentially be the single best improvement a student can make to help with college/university. Scientific research has shown that exercise improves both learning and memory - can a student ask for anything more? Often the biggest fear for busy students, however, is the time commitment. Time spent staying healthy should be thought of less as time wasted, and more as time invested in school and on yourself. You might lose an extra hour or two of studying, but the benefits exercise and healthy living contribute to your brain will multiply the value of the hours you study.
So how can you maximize the benefits of healthy living?
Practice good sleep hygiene
It’s easy to say, but it’s probably one of the hardest things to do as a college student. There’s just so much that we want to do every day, from school assignments to hanging out with friends. Some days, there’s just no way that you’re going to get eight hours of sleep, and that’s okay. As long as it doesn’t become a habit and if on average you’re still getting a good amount of sleep, your body will still be able to refresh and re-energize. The amount of sleep isn’t the only important factor either. Especially with online school, it’s easy to mess up your sleep schedule and begin to sleep during the day and stay awake all night. Our body has a natural sleep-wake cycle and flipping it definitely won’t help our brains.
Eating healthy is hard as a student. It takes time to prepare meals and ready-made healthy food seem to be more expensive. A lot of that is out of control, but try as much as possible to eat whole foods and make sure you’re consuming enough fruits and vegetables. Meal prepping for the entire week on the weekend can help so that you’re not strapped for time on a busy school day. In the business of school, try not to miss a meal either. Without nutrients, our body and brain can’t function, so it’s important to eat our three meals a day.
Stay physically active
It’s scary to think of how many hours we probably spend sitting in a chair as a student. Most of it is unavoidable; it’s hard to study or type up an essay without sitting at our desks. So, when you have time to spend away from your desk, be sure you’re participating in physical activity. Even a mere thirty minutes daily, can go a long way to keeping your body healthy and your mind fresh. If you don’t think a daily goal is possible, set a weekly goal instead. It’ll give you some flexibility and even if you’re not active every day, you can make it up on other days. Physical activity isn’t restricted to going to the gym or running outside. Playing sports with your friends, going for a hike or even strolling through campus for an hour is incredibly good for you.
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