Coming to college is a time of independence, whether you’re going across the country, across the state, or staying close to home. The habits you make during this time can improve your health and well-being for years to come. Here are a few small ways to set yourself up for success in college and in adulthood.
Take stock of your past health
Before you go to college, if you haven’t already, consider switching from your pediatrician to a family doctor or internal medicine provider. learn more about the differences between a general practitioner and an internal medicine provider to decide which would be best for your care.
“Re-arranging a patient appointment with a provider for a wellness or care setup visit is recommended.” says Laura Bowshier, MDa family health care provider MercyOne Waukee Family Medicine. “If you have more chronic conditions or multiple medications, consider making a final visit to receive a summary letter or note about your new provider.”
Whether you are going for a graduation visit or an induction visit, make sure you are up to date on all of your vaccinations, especially meningitis and HPV.
“We recommend Everyone Patients are receiving the HPV vaccine, both males and females,” says Dr. Bowshier. “The HPV vaccine is more effective when given at a younger age and significantly helps reduce the risk of cancer.”
Make routines that work for you
There are many new freedoms upon entering college, but when it comes to creating strong routines and habits — particularly healthy eating, exercise, and sleep — it’s important to remember that what you’re learning now is your health can shape for years to come.
“College is a great place to gain more independence,” says Dr. Bowshier. “Sleep, physical activity, and ideas for quality and quick meals are great places to start developing habits.”
has sleep important benefits for energy, concentration, immune system, psyche and metabolism.
“Focusing on getting good sleep regularly and making healthy sleep habits will improve grades and performance in activities and make you healthier and happier,” says Dr. Bowshier.
Helpful habits to work towards include taking a 30- to 60-minute phone break before bed and not scrolling when lying down, avoiding caffeine after the afternoon, and striving for a consistent sleep schedule each day.
We all know that we need to eat our fruits and vegetables, but reaching for dark leafy greens in a dining room can be difficult.
“Think about what you like, what’s easy to buy/store, and ideas for healthy, quick meals to prepare before you go to school,” says Dr. Bowshier. “Finding some good, simple sources of protein (eggs, peanut butter, frozen cooked chicken breasts, nuts) as well as planning healthy and easy snacking options is key.”
Remember, none of this has to be fancy, but having one does A running list of ideas on your phone, available when you visit the grocery store or quick market, makes decision making easier!
Regular physical activity has great benefits for both physical and mental health. As you transition from organized athletics in high school to more independent pursuits in college, it’s important to pay attention to finding ways to stay active. Knowing what activities are fun and what a campus has to offer is a good first step.
Prioritize your mental health
Any big (or small) life change can Challenge your sanity. There will always be bumps along the way, and planning and understanding what works for you can help you navigate transitions and realize “it’s okay to not be okay.”
“It’s good to recognize what works best for you when things get tough to make your toolkit stronger when needed,” says Dr. Bowsheir. “Now take the time to recognize what works (and doesn’t work) when you’re feeling stressed.”
Questions to ask yourself include:
How would you like to be regeneratively active?
How much sleep do you need to feel good?
Do you feel better after conversations/time with people or with some rest?
If you’ve felt stressed in the past, what makes things better (or worse)?
dr Bowshier also recommends searching your school’s mental health resource information ahead of time so that you are familiar with the process to find options and available help if needed.
Stay prepared with a comprehensive first aid kit
A good dorm first aid kit would include pain and fever medication (acetaminophen, ibuprofen), a working thermometer, bandages, bladder blockers, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, elastic bandage, and over-the-counter steroid (anti-itch) cream .
learn more about First aid kits and what an emergency room nurse says are your must-haves.