opinion | How to take care of your body at school

College isn’t easy. I’ve written 20-page essays, acted in plays and musicals, written for after-school groups, all while searching for summer career opportunities. But do you want to know what the hardest part of college was? Learning to take care of myself.

Sure, you’ve had a health course and know the basics. But when you’re in an exciting new place with tons of social opportunities, don’t play high school sports, and don’t eat your family’s meals, you need to develop a new self-care program.

Disclaimer – this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Some people can drink an entire bottle of wine and feel great the next day. Some people have disabilities that prevent them from taking care of themselves to the maximum. Please assume nuances. OK! Now the advice!


The dining rooms at Pitt are a buffet. You probably want to try everything, maybe a dessert or a slice of pizza. I promise you nothing, and I mean nothing, will be earth-shatteringly good. Look at your options and find a source of protein, carbs, and fruit or veg — and I emphasize the veg. Serious. Constipation sucks.

Here’s a dining room rule of thumb in case you want dessert. Take a first bite. If it’s good, eat it! Enjoy! If it’s bad, throw it away. Don’t waste the capacity of your stomach on something you don’t enjoy.

A lot of college social events are centered around food—it’s a surefire way to go about it freshman 15. If you eat a meal before the event, eat a snack, but don’t eat a second dinner unless you’re really hungry. Or take something with you from the event and save it for later.

The newbie 15

You may gain some weight in the first few months of college. Here’s the thing – your body will change no matter what. In high school you might have been totally sober, ate three decent meals a day, and exercised year-round. This isn’t your life anymore and it will never be your life again, so you’ll probably see your muscle mass and fat content change. be nice to yourself

However, if you notice significant weight changes, whether it’s weight loss or weight gain, you should work with a doctor to find out the cause and find a solution.

alcohol and other drugs

I’m sure some freshmen started drinking in high school. Some people don’t get hangovers, others do. Some people really like being drunk, some don’t. There’s no one right way to party in college — you don’t have to drink, but if you do, do it responsibly.

If you drink, drink as much water as you drink alcohol. And when all else fails and you’re over-drinking and under-hydrated, find a hangover cure. Sleep, Pedialyte, Pepto-Bismol, or even a greasy breakfast sandwich. And more water. It’s trial and error.

Also, if you’re on psychiatric medications that interfere with alcohol, either don’t drink or tread very, very lightly. Many antidepressants and stimulants interact adversely with alcohol and other drugs.

To protect yourself from roofies, you should invest in the NightCap Drink Cover Scrunchie. This thing could save you from being drugged by someone with bad intentions. Also, never leave your drink unattended at a party. If you need to go to the bathroom or suspect your drink has been tampered with, just throw it away.

Mental health

I believe that everyone needs a therapist. If you have difficulties, see a therapist immediately. If you need to speak to someone soon, the university has one counseling center. If you have suicidal thoughts, call 800-273-8255.

If you find you have serious, serious problems and aren’t getting better, consider taking time off from school to seek more comprehensive care. I took 9 months off in 2020 and it was the best self-preservation decision I have ever made.

Taking care of your mental health is very trial and error. Meditation, exercise, journaling, therapy, psychiatric care, and general self-care are essential.


Exercise is vital to your physical and mental health and if you are able to do it you should aim to exercise 4-6 times a week. That doesn’t mean you have to run 5 miles or deadlift 150 pounds in the Pete. You can easily incorporate exercise into your everyday life.

As mentioned earlier, food is often the center of social functions in college, but you can make exercise a social function too! Ask a friend if they’d like to go for a long walk — or jog if you feel like it — in Schenley Park or around Shadyside. We love a good walk and talk.

You can also access the Pete, the WPU gym or the many other small gyms that Pitt has to offer. Cash this page if you are interested in Pitt’s free group fitness classes.


If you’re lucky enough to have good health insurance, don’t bother with Pitt’s health insurance. UPMC has a ton of amazing medical professionals and you can take full advantage of this within your own insurance.

Always carry a copy of your insurance details with you, whether it’s on your phone or in your wallet.

If you’re curious about Pitt’s student health services, stop by this page.

If you need a healthcare specialist, be one gynecologist, Orthopaedist, dermatologist, dentist, you name it – do your research and fill out a new patient intake right now. do it immediately Don’t even finish reading this article. Once your classes start and you have loads of responsibilities, it will be a lot more cumbersome to set up and access a care.

COVID-19 testing

If you got exposed, Pitt did it on-site examination with Quest diagnostics. Healing is also a great resource if you really want to speed up your test results. Curative has a trailer in front of the Carnegie Museum on Forbes for COVID-19 testing.


Get tested regularly for STDs, which you can pull off Pitt’s Health Services. They also offer free condoms which you should definitely use.

For womb carriers, assuming you are having sexual intercourse that puts you at risk of pregnancy, I recommend some form of birth control, be it an IUD, the pill or the implant. Research your options and reconsider setting up treatment with a Pittsburgh gynecologist.

Penis owners, especially if you are not monogamous, must use protection in the form of a condom. Always.

Also for LGBTQ+ people – Pitt offers clinical services to meet your needs and can also refer you to LGBTQ+ friendly providers. You can read more about Pitt’s offerings here. UPMC also offers a great low-cost or free route to PrEP if you need it –– which, by the way, goes for everyone, not just LGBTQ+ Students.


Get a large water bottle and take it with you wherever you go. It’s worth spending $50 on a water bottle — it’s so much better to have a steel-lined bottle that won’t leak or sweat and will keep your water cold. hydroflasks are great. Get one in a light color and maybe put some stickers on it so you never mix it up with someone else’s or lose it. Take it with you everywhere and drink it whenever you can. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Finally, take all of my advice with a grain of salt as this approach may not work for everyone. You will make mistakes while learning how to live a healthy lifestyle, and that’s okay. Your physical and mental health are critical to your experience at Pitt, so work on forming healthy habits. It is the foundation on which you will build your success. Take care!

Paige Wasserman (she/she) writes about art, pop culture, campus culture and things that make you scream. You can reach them at [email protected].

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