A healthy body and a healthy mind: The tools for your success

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By Katelyn Billings

When first starting school, young college students are often overwhelmed with the amount of freedom they are suddenly granted. Freedom, which can quickly turn from a positive, growing experience to an irresponsible and chaotic one when abused. With copious amounts of free time and plenty of distractions all around, students may lose sight of their academic responsibilities, inevitably leading to overwhelming amounts of stress, lack of sleep and poor nutrition.

A casual game of ultimate frisbee here, a favorite show on Netflix there, and soon enough you find that all of your papers and Web Work assignments are the very last things on your mind. Finding the proper balance of time for homework and recreational activities is something everyone has to figure out for themselves.

A tip to keep in mind is that although temptations arise and are hard to resist, your friends are not going anywhere. That game of ultimate will be much more enjoyable without the daunting thought of a five page paper looming in the back of your mind.

To prevent that drowning-in-homework-feeling, the best thing to do is to just sit down right after class while the lessons are still fresh in your memory, and “get ‘er done.”

Writing a paper ahead of time leaves plenty of time for editing, re-reading and perhaps even a trip to the Writing Center.

Completing your work sooner rather than later can relieve an iceberg of stress, leaving you with enough time to relax and enjoy some of your most favorite campus activities.

While working at your best potential at Union is always a top priority, don’t feel compelled to work yourself dry and let yourself be consumed by all the stress – relax! Take a break if you need to and breathe.

Turn off your computer and electronics, go for a walk, and give that hard-working mind a well-deserved break. And don’t forget – naps are a college student’s best friend.  All those late nights out take a serious toll on your immune system and wane your chances of recharging properly for the next day.

Getting stressed is normal – everyone deals with it. However, perhaps a call home, a power nap or even a trip to the gym can take the edge off and make it a little easier to cope with.

Stress not only impacts your academic performance, but on your overall health as well. Instead of drowning your sorrows in a plate of fries, turn to some omega-3.

Foods that are high in omega-3, potassium and magnesium are proven to lower your stress levels by giving your body a healthy boost of vitamins.  Apples, bananas, avocados and green vegetables like broccoli and kale, are just a few of a number of healthy options that lower blood pressure and alleviate tension.

Eating salmon and spinach, (AKA the “super foods”), prevents stress hormones from escalating and can also fight fatigue and migraines — two of the most straining effects of stress.

Simple sugars, such as glucose, sucrose and fructose are found in artificial sweeteners, and all of your favorite dining hall desserts. While they may catch your eye, they will wreak havoc on your immune system.

Excess sugar depresses immunity, thickens the blood and prevents vitamins and nutrients from supplying your body with what it really needs. Although your body does need some sugar, it does not need it from that triple layer red velvet cake; instead, “good sugars” come from natural produce such as fruits, vegetables and hearty grains.

Personal health and overall well-being starts with taking care of your studies and making sure you stay on top of all your assignments. It’s very easy to lose track of deadlines and before you know it, you will find yourself skipping meals to finish a term paper that snuck up on you.

Likewise, taking care of your body by providing it with nutrients and a proper amount of sleep are key aspects of performing well in class and in your personal life as well.

Break your sugary and stress-inducing habits, and create a healthier mindset and lifestyle that will help you during your time at Union and out in the real world.

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