Back to the Basics: the 3 Pillars

College. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you most likely have experienced some time here at Ohio State and have recognized the fact that it can be difficult to take care of yourself. It’s okay, a majority of college students feel the same way. I have gone through my own situations where I wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I should have been. However, I believe taking care of yourself is a process. For processes, it’s more beneficial to have a plan. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide that you want to take care of yourself better then have it immediately happen, unfortunately. That’s why I’m here to hopefully give you some insight on how to start this process; it all starts with taking care of the basics of making sure you’re healthy.

Sleep

College. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you most likely have experienced a night with like…somewhere between 5-6 hours of sleep. Maybe (hopefully not) less. Those coffees and Monsters on campus can only help so much.

Many resources state that for us adults, 7-9 hours is a healthy amount of sleep per night. If you make getting less a routine, you may start feeling lack-of-rest effects like a loss in alertness, a loss in ability to remember/process info, an increase in moodiness, and of course a decrease in energy.

Sleep, like classes or that meeting for the group you’re in, can simply be a scheduled time block. Fitting sleep into your routines/calendars and then working out your plans for studying and socializing around it will hold you accountable and hopefully keep you on track.

As for naps, if that’s something you can fit into your schedule, it’s best to avoid naps over 60-90 minutes to avoid sleep inertia (grogginess), while still gaining the rejuvenation effects. The optimal time is midday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., so that way your night schedule isn’t messed up!

Diet

College. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you most likely have experienced a questionable diet choice at some point. Whether it was forgetting to eat for 14 hours or downing 3-4 Buckeye Donuts, most of us students have done something that probably wasn’t for the better.

Diets are tricky…unlike sleep, there is no magic diet that everyone should follow because everyone is built differently, has different needs, and different goals/values. However there are a few “avoidables” that can benefit everyone’s physical health:

  • Greasy/Fried foods
  • Excessively sugary foods or drinks (there IS a difference between natural sugars and added sugars)
  • Excessively salty foods
  • Highly-processed foods

Honestly, I could go into way more depth and detail with this section, but to keep you from getting bored, I’m going to stop it there. Basically, it is pretty much known if something is unhealthy. Slight substitutions will go a long way towards benefiting your physical health and energy. Have any questions about on-campus food or want some more info? Visit the University Dining website or contact someone within the Student Wellness Center (they do a lot with nutrition/diet counseling and education – it’s free, too!)

Other basics tips?

  • Try to eat until you’re satisfied, rather than full.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods, which provides you with a broader intake of nutrients and keeps you from getting bored!
  • DRINK WATER. It is essential. The benefits would be a whole other section. There are a bunch of different recommendations as to how much you should be drinking, but I’ll let you research that on your own (everyone is different, like I said). Although I do recommend a glass of water every morning to kick-start your day.
  • If you’re struggling to find time to eat, do the same thing as sleep and establish time blocks within your schedule!
  • Add some vegetables.

Exercise

College. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you know of the large campus we have here at Ohio State and all its gyms it has to offer. Have you taken advantage?

Like diets, everyone’s needs are a little bit different, especially with regards to goals. The general “rule” is that it’s considered healthy to partake in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. As students, it’s almost easy to have exercise take a backseat in priorities. Most of our time with academics is spent sitting in classrooms and then sitting or laying down to study.. then, to add to it, when we’re finished up, we just want to relax.

However, by incorporating physical activity into our routine (whether that be aerobic activity or strength training) we can combat the negative health effects of all of our sitting.

Exercise, along with all of its benefits, will boost your moods and energy overall while reducing health risks. As a student, we need as much of those benefits as we can get. The good thing about exercise is that there are so many different types and opportunities on campus. The gyms here also have very broad hours, meaning you can incorporate a full workout or a quick sweat almost anytime during the day! Check out the times (and more) at https://recsports.osu.edu/facilities.

It all starts with…

This article was by no means professional advice, but rather general advice from a fellow college student. I’m not an expert in sleep, diets, or exercise. I also want you to know that I sometimes fall short of taking care of myself in these three basic areas. There have been times where I’ve gone to classes with 5 hours of sleep. There have been times where I have eaten 2 Mirror Lake meals. There have been times where I decided to play 2K instead of going to hit back/bicep day. I am in no way asking you to get 9 hours of sleep a night, skip out on every Snickers bar, or go deadlift 500 pounds. I am simply just trying to get you thinking about bettering yourself – these pillars are crucial for that.

The thing is, it all starts with you. Building goals and then proceeding to build commitment to those. Self-responsibility and motivation are key, but practicing consistency in these areas is almost even more important and will benefit you more in the long run.

Oh yeah, and make your bed every morning. I have to work on that too.

Extra Note: Are you or someone you know struggling with having food to eat? Ohio State has food pantries for students.

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