How to Stay Healthy, Even When School is Hectic
As the summer comes to an end (if only the heat would, too!) we all know what that means - it’s back to school time. Whether you can’t wait to get back on campus, or you're dreading the end of those week-day beach hangs and long summer nights, we’ve got back-to-school tips for everyone.
It’s way too easy to be unhealthy at school. From all the late-night instant ramen to the pressure of midterms, our studies often put our health on the back burner. Not this year! Check out our simple guide on how to have your healthiest and most sustainable semester yet!
It can be hard to find healthy food, especially on campus. We also all know the stereotype of only eating instant ramen or mac n’ cheese in college. By regularly grocery shopping, meal planning, and bringing your own meals and snacks, you’ll actually save money, use less plastic, and eat so much healthier!
All those snacks at the canvas convenience shops really add up. Create an easy shopping list with simple, healthy meals with a grain, a protein, a green, and other veggies. By sticking to a structure like that, it makes shopping, planning, and packing a lot less daunting.
Have a favorite snack? Consider finding a healthier swap out (if necessary) or even buy in bigger batches (or bulk if that’s an option!) and portion out in your own containers to save plastic and money. It also helps with portion control!
Make this semester single-use plastic-free!
We know you know about Non Toxic Revolution, so you know how harmful single-use plastic can be for our bodies and the environment. You can save money, avoid toxins, and keep your campus - and the planet - clean by making the switch to reusables! (Sensing a pattern?)
Plus, while yes, they are a larger one-time investment, you’ll actually save money with the one-time purchase of a reusable coffee cup. Did you know that most coffee shops offer a discount when you bring your own? Those discounts add up quick!
Go multi-use with a bento box!
Remember those DIY lunches we talked about? Bento boxes are great investments for on-the-go meals because they have lots of compartments! Plus, this one comes with multiple layers, which are removable, so it’s great for a big bowl of pasta leftovers, or for keeping your sides on the side.
Stash sustainably with Stasher!
Don’t need a whole bento box? Stasher bags are awesome and compact ways to carry your favorite snacks or meals, or even keep your bag organized!
Don’t forget to accessorize!
These bamboo utensils are an awesome and low cost alternative to plastic, equipped with a carabiner and carrying case for easy storing! Plus, if you prefer to drink with straws, you can totally fit one of these reusable simply straws in the case, too!
Stay hydrated without the trash & toxins
Drinking lots of water daily is so important, and you’re probably not drinking enough of it. Staying hydrated aids in everything from keeping our skin healthy, to kidney function, to helping us be more alert! So while you should be chugging away, those single-use water bottles tend to have BPA and other toxic chemicals in them, which means you’re likely drinking endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Luckily, there are no doubt, water fountains all over campus. Bring your own reusable bottle, and fill up for free all day! Bonus: lots of campuses now have water fountains specifically for filling up water bottles! They often have counters, showing how many plastic bottles were saved. If your school has this, then you get to see the direct impact of how you’re helping reduce plastic waste every time you fill up, which may even motivate you to drink more water!
Don’t get consumed with school stress
Our mental and physical health are so connected. When our physical body isn’t healthy, it hurts our mental health. We’ve all likely experienced this even with a minor cold. When you feel bad one way, you feel bad in lots of other ways. Of course, the same goes for our mental health impacting our physical health. Stress is inflammation, so long-term stress means long-term inflammation which can make us more susceptible to cancers and other illnesses. Not to make you more stressed, but it just shows how important it is to find ways to unwind and relax. This can be incredibly difficult in the demanding high-pressure environment of academia.
People have a lot of feelings about meditation. Whether you’re a pro-breather or a silence skeptic, mindfulness and centering yourself can have an incredible impact on your stress and mental well-being. Does the idea of sitting in silence make you more stressed? There are so many resources for guided meditation like the Headspace app, Spotify playlists, or even one by our friends at BPRST made just for KAB & F4P. If you’re one of the skeptics, we suggest the book (and movement) 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
Put pen to paper
We know you’re constantly taking notes, but journaling can be super cathartic and stress-relieving. Stream of consciousness your feelings, break down your tasks into more do-able lists, make note of patterns that trigger your stressors, or whatever you like! There are endless possibilities to how you journal, it’s all about what works for you.
Try some aromatherapy.
Smells are seriously powerful and essential oils can make a big impact on our mental health. Aromatherapy is a thing for a reason! Why not make a DIY roller of your favorite calming essential oils to keep on you when you need to take a breather. Roll it on your wrists, close your eyes, take a couple big inhales in through the nose and out through the mouth to help soothe your mind.
Find a quiet spot on campus.
Designate an area just for relaxing. Is there a big tree you can sit against somewhere? How about a quiet floor of the library? Does your campus have a garden? Whatever soothing is for you, try to find a spot on campus where you can take some time for you. You can, of course, find them off-campus, too, but it’s great to have something close especially if you need to decompress right after a particularly hard test or in between classes.
Work it out with a workout!
Yep, among its many benefits, exercise is great for stress relief! Read on for some tips for getting in your fitness this semester!
Step away from the desk chair!
You’ve seen us say it countless times, and it’s what our Fit 4 Prevention campaign is all about: 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week may lower your breast cancer risk by 30-50%
When you’re slammed with your studies and pulling those all-nighters (which is a whole other issue) fitting in some exercise time may not be the top of your list, but it should be. Did you know that regular exercise improves cognitive function? That’s right, it’ll even make you a better student!
Take the stairs, always!
Class on the third floor? Stairs! Office hours on the 8th floor? Stairs (ok, maybe just on the way down, no need to be sweaty for your meeting). You’d be surprised how those things add up, especially in comparison to standing in elevators all that time.
Did someone say free gym!?
That’s right, a lot of colleges have free gyms. In fact, the Cal State updated all of their gyms a few years back, and they all have state of the art equipment. Gym memberships are expensive, especially nice ones, and if your campus has free access to a great workout spot, definitely take advantage of it! Worried about the gym? Take it slow, try an elliptical or something easy, or just run on the track or do laps in the pool. There’s a space for everyone.
Take a fitness class!
You are in school after all. Getting credit will not only incentivize you, but you’ll have no choice but to workout or risk your GPA. If you’re looking to hold yourself accountable, this is a great way to do it. Just like your regular classes, there are fitness classes of all different levels, so this is also a great way to try something new or hone your technique with instruction!
We’re not saying to run 5 miles every day and you’ll magically have tons of energy, a perfect GPA and stress-free. It’s all about finding balance and incorporating healthier and more mindful practices that work for you! School is hard, and the pressures of it can take over other areas of our lives. We hope some of these tips will help you with that school-life balance and assist you in having a more preventative, sustainable and all-around healthier semester!
Bree is a vegan, intersectional feminist who is particularly invested in health and environmental justice. She has a degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from CSULB, where she spent her time turning her passions into academic activism; she now carries out the same work as a content creator. When she’s not busy spreading awareness on living a non-toxic lifestyle, she is most likely chugging coffee, talking to her plants, cooking with arguably too much garlic, taking a bath, or crying about dogs.