Being in college for the first time is a new experience that many young adults look forward to. However, many don’t realize what a lifestyle change it is and not being properly prepared can make or break not only your school life but your personal life as well. The good news is that it isn’t impossible to manage a college life and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. All it takes is a little know-how and practice.

Life for a new college student tends to be more of a challenge if you happen to go to school out of state or aren’t able to commute to and from school from your parents’ house. Living in dorms or on your own off campus requires a lot of changes in your lifestyle. Dormitories tend to take care of everything for the student but because of the close living quarters and the number of student bodies crammed into these living accommodations, sticking to a fairly healthy lifestyle can be difficult. If you find yourself in this situation the best thing to do is stick to a daily routine that works for you.

Once you’ve figured out your schedule of classes, breaks, etc. talk to your roommate and make sure you are both clear on when you’ll need quiet time in your room for studying, taking a nap, etc. It helps to communicate with your roommate so that you both can establish guidelines that will allow you to live together without any problems. If your dorm is too busy or noisy, then learn to find places on campus where you can study in peace.

A library is a great option. As difficult as it may be, do your best to get plenty of sleep each night. Or schedule your classes with long enough breaks in between that will let you squeeze in a cat nap so that you are able to attend the rest of your classes refreshed and better focused. Avoid eating at the cafeteria or sticking to takeout. Instead, go grocery shopping and get a mini fridge filled with healthy snack foods like fruits and vegetables you can easily munch on during or after classes.

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Living off campus in an apartment or house with roommates? Then you’ll want to make sure to establish house rules and create a daily routine for yourself that you can handle. Talk with your roommates to make sure it is understood when quiet time is needed and when it is okay or not okay to have visitors over or throw a party. When grocery shopping, learn how to make healthy choices and try your best to avoid only eating meals that come in a can or box.

Take advantage of your new lifestyle experience by purchasing ingredients and learning how to cook meals for yourself. Even if you aren’t a chef, you’d be surprised by how great it feels to eat a meal you’ve prepared yourself. Carry a bottle of water with you to class and stay away from too many caffeinated drinks as well as snacks filled with sugars and fats.

Being a college student often calls for late nights, little sleep and a lot of stress. Instead of opting for easy solutions like junk food, energy drinks, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices, seek out healthier alternatives. You can find many natural approaches to common lifestyle issues (lack of sleep, stress, poor diet) online. Give these a shot and see how your body responds. If your college has a gym, start using it to keep your body in shape and your mind clear and focused.