Center for Student Achievement
Holloway Hall

Achieving Balance: Stress, Diet, Exercise, Sleep

All of us at one point in time have felt that no matter what you do, you’re almost always stressed out. Well, unfortunately stress just happens to be a part of life, especially a part of college life.  In college there are so many things going on that it may feel like you never have time to relax.  Between classes, schoolwork, studying, roommates, social life, eating, and if there is time, sleeping, you will notice that your lifestyle has changed immensely from before you came to college.  All of these factors, if you cannot handle your stress, can even put a strain on your health.    Hopefully some of the following tips will help you survive the life of a college student.       

Stress:

Of course very college student will feel stressed at one point, but the better you take care of your yourself now, the better you will be able to deal with stress when it comes.  Stress can affect our health both physically and emotionally.  When you do not take time to replenish yourself, stress can reoccur frequently affecting your self-esteem, personal relationships, and academic performance.  Here are some of the main signs of emotional of physical stress.

  • Emotional:
    • Sudden mood changes
    • Confusion
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Inability to concentrate
    • Increased use of alcohol and other drugs

  • Physical:
    • Nervousness
    • Muscle tension
    • Changes in sleeping, eating, or sexual habits
    • Lack of energy
    • Headaches
    • Increased heart rate
    • Hives

Being able to manage your stress is the key to becoming successful in college.  As you will find it is hard to get everything done that you would like, but it is definitely to incorporate some downtime into your busy schedule.  Friendships may be one of the best stress relievers that you will find in college.  You can go to them and talk about your situation or just go out with them for dinner or have a movie date.  Friends are great for letting you know everything will be okay and will be there when the times get hard.  Here are some other stress management tips:

  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and too much caffeine
  • Schedule down time with friends
  • Take time each day to try a relaxation technique (yoga, meditation)
  • Take a short nap if needed

Diet:

As I am sure many of you have heard of the freshman 15, and unfortunately it is not myth.  Many college students do not have time to really think about what they are eating and whether it is good for them or not.  The cafeteria on-campus has so many different types of food to choose from that it is easy to not make the healthiest choices and sometimes even go back for seconds.  Also, because your sleep schedule changes, so do your eating patterns.  You may skip meals, eat more during other meals, snack during the day, and even have some late night munchies. Instead you should eat three well balanced meals with healthy snacks during the day.  Instead of having French fries and pizza every meal, make sure that you eat whole grains, protein, and vegetables.  Also try substituting fruit, vegetables or even pretzels for that bag of Cheetos or Doritos.  And as much as you can, stay away from refined sugars, alcohol, caffeine and drugs.  All may increase anxiety or even lead to insomnia or headaches.  

            Healthy Snack Ideas:

         Baked chips

         Fruit (apples, grapes, raisins)

         Yogurt

         Vegetables and dip

         Granola bar

         Nuts

         String cheese

         Pretzels

         Popcorn

         Juice

         Crackers

Exercise:

Even though you may feel that the last thing you have time for is to exercise, it has been found to be positive for both academic and physical fitness.  An important part of staying healthy and energetic is exercising at least 20 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week.  There are many things that you can do right here on campus.  You can go for a run outside, go to our fitness center, go swimming, or play basketball.   Many students have also found it helpful to have an exercise buddy to help stay on track.  It is also important to work out early so that you are more motivated throughout the day.  Many students also find it helpful to have an exercise buddy to help them keep on track.  Salisbury also offers a wide range of both club and intramural sports that you can participate in.  The following link will tell you about our campus recreation programs as well as open gym hours. 

    http://www.salisbury.edu/campusrec/

Sleep:

Make sure that sleep is not at the bottom of your priorities in college.  You should try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.  You are less likely to get colds, fall asleep in class, or become stressed if you are well rested.  Even though in college it is hard to have a set schedule each day, you should try to have a sleep schedule where you wake up and go to sleep around the same time each day.  This will help you feel better and become more alert instead of feeling groggy throughout the day.  Go to sleep when you feel tired, if you are falling asleep while reading an assignment, you are most likely not getting much out of what you are reading.  The most important this is just to listen to what your body needs.  If you are feeling tired or a cold coming on, take a nap if you need to, just make sure that you don’t push yourself too hard or pull too many all-night study sessions. 

Resources:

http://www.medaille.edu/academics/asc/stressmanagement.pdf

www.gocollege.com

http://ww5.hunter.cuny.edu/studentservices/current/healthy