Five Tips for a Healthier Semester

Tip 1: Eat Less Sugar


A common New Years resolution is to eat healthier and exercise more. While overall changing your lifestyle is an excellent goal, a big part of that should be cutting out sugar. We’re often taught to believe we can exercise the calories off of us, but that isn’t realistic. To burn off a 20 oz Coke would take an hour and fifteen minutes of biking. A cookie would require twenty minutes of jogging, and you would have to swim for an hour and twelve minutes to burn off a medium fry. In addition, all calories are not created equal. One hundred calories from a banana is going to do so much more for your body than the 161 calories in one Oreo cookie. When you eat sugar, without any of the healthy things in whole food like fiber and protein, your liver turns it into insulin. Insulin becomes fat and blocks the signal in your brain that tells you you’re full, so you feel hungry, crabby, tiered, and overall not want to do anything. Not only will cutting the amount of sugar in your diet help you lose weight and be healthier, but you’ll feel better! Need some help to make the change? Check out SWAT member Allie’s blogs on going sugar free last year. She has a grocery list, alternatives to sugar packed food, and delicious recipes!

Tip 2: Sleep More


We all know how it feels to not get enough sleep. It is important to get enough sleep for not only your health, but also your performance in school. Being awake and alert in class is important for retaining information. The average adult needs eight hours of sleep every night. It’s always hard to get back into a good sleeping routine after a break from school, but there are things you can do to make healthy sleeping habits this semester.  You should try to go to bed and wake up at similar times everyday. This means that even on the weekends when you don’t have to get up, don’t sleep in until noon if you have to get up at eight on Monday morning. It might be hard at first to get into the routine, but once you do, you will notice a difference in how you feel. In order to get eight hours of sleep every night, you probably have to go to bed earlier, which is a tough habit to create too. First, only use your bed for sleep, relaxing, or other “bed” activities (if you know what I mean). Sit on the couch or futon to watch TV and never do your homework in bed so your brain associates laying in your bed with sleeping. Don’t eat any large quantities of food before bed, and if you do need a little bedtime snack make sure it’s something healthy. Stop using electronic devices like your phone, computer, or TV at least an hour before you want to go to sleep. While flipping through Facebook seems like a great way to drift off into dreamland, the light decreases the production of melanin in your brain, which makes it harder to fall asleep. Buzzfeed has a few ideas on what to do instead of using your beloved devices before bed. Finally, avoid napping during the day, especially really long ones. If you feel you must nap, try not to do so for more than an hour and not before 3:00pm.

Tip 3: Use Your Time More Effectively


Nobody likes those Sundays you have to spend doing marathon study session in the library, or really having to do homework in general. However, using your study time effectively can maybe shrink the amount of time you have to spend and make that studying stick! A study done at MIT found that the most effective way to study is to break it up into one hour blocks, work for fifty minutes and then take a ten minute break. Breaks are so important to help relieve stress and our minds need the occasional rest in order to be more alert and productive. Get up and move, play your favorite song and dance it out, talk a quick walk around the break, do a couple yoga poses (here are some easy ones for beginners), or even do a couple jumping jacks. If you are easily distracted by things like Facebook and Pinterest, be sure to do homework without your phone visible. Doing an assignment while “multitasking” checking your phone can make the assignment last two to three times longer. If you really struggle, schedule time to do fun, distracting things, and set an alarm to be sure you stop after ten minutes.

Tip 4: Take Care of Yourself


It’s important everyday to take time for yourself and do things you enjoy. College students are crazy busy. On top of classes most of us do other things on such as athletics, campus organizations, work, music, theater… there are so many opportunities to get involved on campus! As awesome as that is, it’s important to take sometime everyday to relax. There is nothing wrong with taking an hour to watch Netflix if that’s what makes you happy. If you are really busy, and find yourself on the go all day, everyday, don’t hesitate to schedule time in your day to unwind – and stick to it! If you have a favorite show you like to watch, or a weekly get together with close friends, put it in your planner and make a habit of it being an obligation, especially now when the semester is less hectic. You’ll be grateful when things start to pile up!

Tip 5: If You Choose to Drink, Do So in Moderation


While the only legal way to consume alcohol is to be over the age of 21, if you choose to drink regardless of your age, it’s best to do so in moderation. College students are known for their binge drinking and party lifestyles, but this can be detrimental to many different aspects of your life. Too much drinking in college can lead to having trouble in classes and relationships. Drinking alcohol is also bad for your health. SWAT offers many resources when it comes to drinking in moderation. For example, request a program and look out for activities that we hold for alternatives to going out and drinking. Again if you do make the choice to drink, be sure to eat before and while you are drinking, alternate alcoholic beverages with water, avoid beverages with carbonation and/or caffeine, and keep track of how many standard drinks you are having to be aware of your blood alcohol content. The effects most people enjoy from alcohol like relaxing, being “buzzed,” socializing, and lowered inhibitions happen with low BACs, around.03 – .07, and the negative effects like throwing up, blacking out, and getting hangovers happen at higher BACs. Again, moderation is key! Be aware of how often you’re drinking too. If you make drinking a habit, it could take priority over important things in your life, like school or friends. To make changes in your drinking habits, check out our blog on drinking in moderation and an organization called Hello Sunday Morning that gives you challenges to help make healthier habits- they even have an app! SWAT’s Allie even gave it a try, you can read it about that here.