When your body feels healthy, your mind is ready—and for college students balancing exams, classes, extra-curricular activities, academic clubs and a social life, maintaining good health can often feel overwhelming.

5 Healthy Tips for College Students to Keep in Mind Heading into the New Semester

Instead of overhauling your entire lifestyle overnight, pick a few areas for improvement to focus on during a specific period of time (i.e., a quarter or semester). In setting attainable and incremental goals, you’ll begin to feel the impact of these small lifestyle changes in your day to day routines. For inspiration, we recommend starting with one of these five essential areas:

Clean Eating

While the temptation of fast food can appear both delicious and economical, fueling your body with whole and nutritious foods can have a significant impact on one’s overall health. Clean eating practices are built on a foundation of consuming nutrient-dense meals that are, “as close to their natural state as possible.” This means you’ll need to trade your mid-day snack of french fries for an apple pecan salad or a spinach and kale smoothie. In making these changes, it’s important to avoid eating out as much as possible. Not only will you be surprised how much money you can save, but you’ll have more control on the specific ingredients that become a part of your diet.

Creative Workouts

Gym memberships can be expensive, and if you don’t have access to athletic facilities on campus, it can be hard to find opportunities to keep your body moving and active. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re out of options. Look into non-traditional forms of exercise to add to your schedule:

  • Online Video Workouts: In just a few simple clicks and a Google search, you can find trainers from across the globe that are providing at-home, no-equipment workouts for free. Especially in the strong heat of the Summer or the snow of the Winter, apartment-friendly workouts can be the perfect solution.
  • Sports Leagues: Most campuses offer intramural and sport clubs for their students. If you’re not comfortable lifting weights, consider scoring goals or shooting hoops with other members of your student body.
  • College Courses: If you need some extra motivation, take an athletics course through your educational institution for additional credit. Not only will you get closer to graduation, but you’ll have a teacher and students to help you finish strong.

Stress Management

Did you know that not all stress is bad? Sometimes, a little pressure is exactly what you need to finish an assignment or introduce yourself to a new friend. While you don’t have to be afraid of some extra intensity, stress also has the capacity to significantly damage our wellbeing. Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of negative stress while leveraging coping mechanisms to overcome those feelings is extremely valuable. While each person’s approach to managing their mental health is different, supplementing your daily activities with meditation, intermittent breaks or professional guidance can mitigate the poor side effects of stressors.

Better Sleep Habits

The time you spend resting in bed is important for your body’s recovery from a busy day. While it might be hard to develop a regular sleep routine, improving the quality of your sleep (for however long it may be) can dramatically affect your overall health. In order to make sure you’re getting a good night’s rest, consider the following:

  • Put away personal devices 30 minutes before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine after 3 PM.
  • Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
  • Don’t rely on the weekend to “catch-up” on missed sleep.
  • Minimize disruptions like outside noises or harsh light.

Proper Hydration

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “everything in moderation,” and when it comes to your health, this definitely applies to the caffeine, alcohol and high sugar foods. What it doesn’t apply to is your hydration, and how much water you’re drinking! To understand just how much H2O you need, use this hydration calculator and set a goal for your daily water intake accordingly. Not only will you feel refreshed, but drinking the right amount of water can help maintain your temperature, cushion joints, protect your spinal cord and improve body functions.