Five Tips for Staying Well During Your College Search

Posted by: Mary Johnson, DNP, FNP-BC, CWP, Director of Health Services

Student working out on fitness machine

Applying to college can be a trying experience no matter the time, but it may feel particularly stressful right now during the pandemic. The pressure of picking the place where you are going to spend “the best four years of your life” or where you’re going to earn your degree can feel overwhelming. And if you’re not being mindful, the stress could take a toll on your health. Here are five tips to keep your wellness a top priority during the college search:

1. Get enough sleep.

  • Your body and mind need at least eight hours of sleep a night.
  • Ideally you should have a good sleep hygiene plan that allows you to go to bed at the same time and wake up at approximately the same time. It’s best if your schedule remains about the same every night of the week.

2. Engage in daily movement.

  • Like sleep, regular movement has a positive effect on your mood.
  • Physical activity can serve as a mental break from other pursuits and lead to more efficient times for college research, completing applications, etc.
  • Use movement as a time to reset your mind and start fresh. If you feel overwhelmed, stop and take a walk with a friend or your family dog or bike to your favorite spot. Try yoga or gentle stretching if you aren’t feeling engergized enough or if you’re experiencing any tension in your muscles.

3. Eat nutritious foods that fuel your body.

  • Feed your body and mind so you can perform and think at the highest level.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables! Fuel your body with the best resources available and avoid highly processed foods.
  • Why not prepare a meal for your family? It is a nice break from the stress of decision making, allows you to focus your attention on the present, and provides a way to express your gratitude to those around you who are supporting your decision-making process.

4. Wash your hands.

You would be amazed at the benefits of adding a little soap and water to your hands before touching your nose or face and before eating. Something as simple as washing your hands with soap and water for a minute before these key activities can prevent many illnesses, not just COVID-19.

5. Remember to enjoy the present.

When wrapped up in the stress of a college search, we sometimes forget to pause and enjoy the present. Worrying too much about a future outcome can get in the way of achieving it. One solution to decrease the cycle of spinning thoughts is learning to stay mindfully in the moment. Your mind is a powerful tool that can lead you down a path of worry and fear or help you conquer your biggest challenges.

Next time you start worrying about an important event or desired result, take a couple of deep, slow breaths and spend a few minutes checking in with your senses; what do you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell? These two simple acts can help ground you in the present and staying in the moment keeps you ready to respond to each challenge or opportunity as it occurs.

Take a healthy approach to your college search. Establish a good sleep pattern, use physical activity to reset your mental state, eat well, and enjoy the present! Caring for your health is an important part of making a confident decision that is right for you – and establishing those good habits now will set you up for greater success in your new college home.

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