Be a better you

Being a college student while also maintaining a healthy life can be challenging. There are many obstacles that get in the way and distract us from taking care of ourselves when life gets too busy. I am here to share my knowledge as well as tips I've learned to have balance.

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My Journey

All throughout my life I have struggled with finding a balance. Whether it’s with my family, sport obligations, friends, personal struggles, or school, I never thought that it was possible to able to live in harmony with so many things going on. When I got to college, I realized that I had even more on my plate. Not only do I have my normal day-to-day struggles, I also have a whole new way of life I need to adapt to. I started skipping meals in order to get to class on time. When I was finally done with class for the day I would end up eating junk food because it was the easiest option. I was always too tired to work out after running around all day with classes and doing errands. In college, a lot of student’s sacrifice taking care of themselves in order to get a good grade. I have many friends that risk their mental and physical health because they can’t risk getting a bad grade on a test. Forgetting the importance of taking a break and sleeping is a big problem most students forget. Students know that college is a lot of work and doesn’t always fit into the obligations we have to do every day. Because of those obligations, student sacrifice their energy and brain power to study or do an assignment. I have learned that depriving myself of basic needs has made my work in school worse. I noticed that cramming for a test all night didn’t actually benefit me more than if I went to bed early and had a good night’s rest. I ended up feel anxious all the time from my awful sleep schedule, horrible eating patterns, and bad mental health. In order to do your best in college, you have to be your best with your mind and body. Taking care of yourself sets the rest of your life into place. Ever since I started making time for myself, I notice how much more enjoyable school can be. I no longer feel the immense exhaustion most students have during tests because I’ve learned a balance. Of course it can take a while to find what works for you, but it will pay off in the end. Imagine having a life where you not only do well in school, but you always feel good too. I want to share what I have learned through my journey to find balance with other students who are struggling so they are able to be at their full potential too.

This is a before and after of my body from learning how to prioritize my life.

The Bigger Picture

When you think about how you balance your life in college, you have to think about how it’s going to affect you after college. The work ethic you have now can determine the way you work in your career one day. I think it’s important to look at the big reason of why it is important to learn how to balance health and school. It’s the small moments of life in between that are important. The time you spend with your friends hanging out at your favorite sports event. Spending alone time making your favorite healthy meal. Taking a hike outdoors to see the sunset. These moments are what prioritizing your life is meant for. These small moments make all the hard work worth it. You will be able to have more joy in your life if you learn how to balance the work and the fun. By allowing yourself to stay focused in school while eating healthy, you will feel strong enough to go hangout with your friends more. You will appreciate life more because your mind and body will be cleansed. You don’t want to look back on your college experience and just see the dreadful nights you spent staying up studying for an exam. You don’t want to think about all the breakdowns you had because you were overwhelmed. You want to remember the nights you didn’t want to end with your friends. You want to remember activities that you love to do. Not only does being healthy help your education, but it also helps you have a better life in every aspect. It all starts with you. The way you treat yourself will have a domino effect on your life. Good things come to those who work hard and know the value in taking the time to prioritize. This will help you for when you are out of college and have to adapt to a different way of life. It gives you a practice on what changes you can make to live happier and healthier. I always think of what I do today and what that effect has on me tomorrow. Taking it one day at a time is the best way to start. Realize that your life is worth every happy moment. Within those happy moments, are sacrifices you have to make. Maybe you get up earlier to meal prep so you don’t end up getting fast food for lunch. Maybe you turn off the television to study before you go to bed. Maybe you turn off your phone and go for a walk around your neighborhood. The key is to find what your priorities are in life.

Support from friends

The best way to become the best verison of yourself is by having a good support system. The love and encouragement from loyal friends is undeniable what keeps me going. When I feel crappy about myself or the progress I have made, my friends are always there telling me that it will be okay. Friends can keep you accountable for your actions and let you know when you aren't making the right decisions. They can be a shoulder to lean on when you feel like you can't keep going. Have good people around you to let you know why you started the journey to be healthy in the first place.

Exercise

Everyday you should strive to get some type of exercise. Whether it's going on hike in your local trail by your apartment or swimming laps in a pool. Working out sends out endorphins in your brain that make you feel good. You genually feel happier and more alive from working out. Your body needs to move everyday in order to function properly. It doesn't always have to be the most intense workout with weights and an hour of running. Grab and friends and make a night out of it. Play sand volleyball with your neighbors or jog with your dog around the block. Whatever gets you moving and on your feet is the main goal. Not only is this good for your body, but also for your mind. Working out is a good way to get out of your head and whatever problems you are facing. It can give you a clearer mind and a way to put your problems into energy.

Diet

One of the most important ways to be healthy and to stay healthy is through your diet. I have learned that my diet affects everything else that I do during the day. If I eat a well balanaced meal, I am able to have more energy to do all my obligations and tasks. Whenever I choose to eat junk food, it makes me lazy and not excited for the day. What you choose to fuel your body with matters. It affects your mood, skin, digestion system, hair, nails, and everything that makes you a person.

Having a well balanced diet in college is not the easisiest task. With so many distractions during the day, it's hard to put eating healthy at the top of your priority list. On top of all the school assignments and projects someone has to do during the day, grocery shoping is usually the last thing on someone's mind. Also finding healthy food that is affordable and convenient is another problem. I have learned that the best way to handle that, is by setting out your meals early in the week. Planning what you are going to eat for each meal for each day can take off the stress of not knowing what you're gonna have for lunch.

Buying healthy food in bulk is always the best way to go. I have learned that when I do that I can save more money than buying it individually. Make food that you actually will enjoy and not tell yourself you have to eat it. When you are excited for the meal, it will encourage you to keep going. Don't buy a big bag of broccoli if you know that you won't end up eating it. Experimenting with what healthy foods you like on top of recipes you can find on google is the best combo for success. Try to focus on foods with color. You want to make your plate have as many natural colors as possible, that way you know you're getting all the nutrients you need.

The hardest part for me wasn't having to eat more healthy food, but having to stay away from sweets. I am a big sweets person and can't figure out how to only have one piece of chocolate when I can have the whole container. Depriving yourself from cravings is hard at first and shouldn't be a forever type of thing. Let yourself have that piece of cake. Get that extra scoop of ice cream. That way you won't end up binging and feeling as though you lost all of your progress. Allowing yourself to have cheat meals is important mentally as well as physcially. You don't want to constantly be thinking about that cheeseburger. Eat the cheeseburger as a treat and keep doing your thing. Just like one meal won't make you lose progress, one meal won't make you gain progress. You have to stick with the healthy choices and balance the cheats meals in order to see a full circle.

You are what you eat

If you have ever heard of the saying "you are what you eat" then I am sure you are rolling your eyes at me. Thats okay, but it is essential to know that basis of what that means. If you are constantly grabbing a package of noodles and a beer for dinner, chances are you aren't going to feel so great. Yeah it might taste better than a bowl of berries, but you have to think about if it's worth it or not. Is it worth it to not take 30 minutes out of your day to make a healthy meal instead of grabbing a bag of cheetos you know you will regret later? By giving yourself a strict scheudle of when you're going to eat and what you are going to eat can make the quick junk food snack trips to the vending machine not needed. You will get the most of nutrient dense food when you're sitting there studying for your test and you won't have the guilt either.

Downtime

You have to take a step back from your crazy schedule of work and school and do something you enjoy. If you don't learn how to prioritize downtime, you won't get all the benefits from being healthy. Your mind needs a break from always going hard with equations, papers, and memorizing vocab words. When you learn how to relax, you can find the hobbies you once loved. Maybe you used to garden before life got chaotic. Maybe you loved to draw and paint all day just to express yourself. You have to find the simple things that you love in life to fully live it. Always have responsibilities can make you think that doing this is a waste of time. You might think that there's no point in taking time off when you could be getting another essay done. I can tell you from experience that when I let myself relax and learn to let go, I am more refreshed to get my tasks done.

You will eventually burn out from constantly overworking yourself. You don't want to wake up one day and realize that you didn't get to go out with your friends to that bonfire because you had to stay home and finish a paper. Prioritize when to get school stuff done, so that you can have valuable memories with your friends. I hate knowing that I missed out some pretty great times because I was stressed about school or thinking that it was pointless to let myself be free. Work hard so you can play hard. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful and productive, but you can't let that stop you from enjoying your youth. You only get to be this young once in your life. Don't waste it!

Giving yourself the freedom to let go will you give you something to look forward to throughout the week. You could be having a tough day with assignments due and having to organize your apartment, but knowing that you get to go to the river with your friends gives you hope. Hope is something that gives us all motivation to keep going even when it feels like you can't. You have to let yourself breath and give yourself some credit for how hard you always push yourself. Working hard becomes not so tedious when you know you have an end goal and and end dream to it.

"We need to build downtime into our lives, so that we can have a solitude without feeling overcome with guilt" -Melody Beattie

"Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer" -William S. Burroughs

Self Love

The hardest part about becoming healthy is figuring out why. Why do I want to make a better life for myself? Do I even care about myself? Do I even love myself? These are all hard questions you have to answer in order to start. When you look back at where you went wrong in not caring for yourself or giving yourself what it needs it goes to self love. You have to love yourself in order to take care of it properly. When I was overweight I hated looking in the mirror and wearing tight clothes. I didn't see the point in taking care of myself because I didn't like myself anyways. I figured that there was no way that I could be any different than what I was. I was wrong. When I finally realized that it all starts with my loving myself, my life changed forever.

You can read all the magazines and articles you want about self love and how it can happen over night. I am here to tell you that, that is not true. Of course you are going to have days where you feel amazing about yourself and other days where you feel awful. The most important thing is that you are trying. Stop comparing your journey to others is the first step. Just because your best friend has the nicest body and seems to have her life together doens't mean you are less worthy of happiness than she is. We all go through different obstacles in our life and nobody got to where they are in the same way. Someone elses beauty and success does not take away yours.

Listing out things you love about yourself can help you visually see what value you have. Tell yourself in the mirror kind things instead of always wishing you could change something about yourself. You are beautiful in your own way. Loving yourself doesn't mean you stick to how things are, it means you are always striving to be better. When you see your self worth, you will want to work everyday to do things you never thought you could do. The key is to take it one day at a time. Wake up everyday and set goals to accomplish. If you focus on a few months from now you will get discouraged and overwhelmed by how far you have to go. You should always focus on how far you have come and all the little progress you have made no matter what it is. Never feel like you aren't worthy of happiness and health.

Here is a video of my dad talking about how he lives a healthy lifestyle

Stats from the Mental Health College Guide for Students

Email

m_n138@txstate.edu

Phone Number

972-821-9691

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